School for DJs

Hip-hop tracks blare out of a small third-floor room in an otherwise quiet Halifax office building on a Monday evening.

Craig Muise

HALIFAX — Hip-hop tracks blare out of a small third-floor room in an otherwise quiet Halifax office building on a Monday evening.

A look of concentration spreads over Michel LeBlanc’ face as the budding DJ bobs his head up and down, matching the tempo of Akon’ Locked Up.

“Don’t forget now, you’re gonna want to drop your volume,” says his mentor, Craig Muise, aka DJ Trixxx.

With headphones pressed to his left ear, LeBlanc places his other hand on a mixer flanked by two CD players and moves the fader down slowly.

“Nice. Perfect,” says Muise.

There are no bright strobe lights or smoke machines. The walls are painted off-white and the room — stuffy from the outside heat — is aglow in sunshine and overhead fluorescent lights.

But with the pounding beats, the dancing, the chatter and the laughing, the mood is comparable to a downtown nightclub.

Here, professional disc jockeys show young people how to turn the table on shyness and low self-esteem as part of an innovative weekly class.

The Rhythm program — an acronym for “Reaching Halifax Youth through Harmony and Music” — pairs eligible youths aged 16 to 21 with DJs, teaching them the basics of mixing and scratching for eight weeks.

“We’re looking for some kids that just kinda need a fair break, and just need something different, something fun,” says Sandy Sinnott, the program’s co-ordinator.

“Get them in here to learn a totally cool skill that nobody else is doing and, at the same time, boost them up, boost their self-esteem, their self-confidence.”

The program, which is funded under the Canada-Nova Scotia Labour Market Agreement, started in March as part of Reachability, a non-profit disability organization based in Halifax.

The Rhythm program, however, is open to most young people regardless of whether they have a disability, says Sinnott.

On this evening, LeBlanc and two other youths are meeting with DJs from Atmosphere Entertainment, a Halifax-based DJ company, for their final two-hour session.

After the class wraps, the students are given a CD with their personal playlist. They also get to keep disc-jockeying computer software so they can hone their skills at home.

LeBlanc, 20, says he was nervous about meeting new people when he first started his DJ lessons, but his love of rap pushed him to continue.

“You get stress out of your mind,” says LeBlanc, sporting a T-shirt featuring the Pink Panther wearing baggy clothes and a backwards ball cap.

“You have fun, enjoy people, enjoy your music and hang out with friends.”

Muise, who’s been a club DJ for the past 17 years, says he’s seen positive changes in his students.

“They come from being totally unaware of the gear and the surroundings they’re walking into, and by the end of it, you can really notice the difference in their confidence level,” he says.

A wide grin spreads across Cody Rogers’ face as Muise makes old-school scratching sounds over 50 Cent’s I Get Money on a special CD player that’s modelled after a classic turntable.

From his wheelchair, Rogers, 20, is unable to reach the mixer’ many buttons and knobs. But with a set of headphones over his white ball cap, Rogers says he’s content to sing along and help Muise count beats.

“I’m having fun with this course,” he says. “(My family thinks) it’s great. They’re proud of me.”

Just Posted

Parenting: Every woman will have a different pregnancy experience

Wife whose hormones are unbalanced can be unpleasant experience

Men posing as repo men attempt to steal vehicle in Red Deer County

Two men attempted to steal a utility vehicle from a Red Deer… Continue reading

Red Deerian spreads kindness with one card at a time

One Red Deerian wants to combat bullying by spreading kindness in the… Continue reading

Bowden baby in need of surgery

“Help for Alexis” Go Fund Me account

PHOTO: First Rider bus safety in Red Deer

Central Alberta students learned bus safety in the Notre Dame High School… Continue reading

WATCH: Annual Family Picnic at Central Spray and Play

Blue Grass Sod Farms Ltd. held the Annual Family Picnic at the… Continue reading

Woman has finger ripped off at West Edmonton Mall waterslide

SASKATOON — A Saskatchewan woman says she lost a finger after her… Continue reading

Uncertainty looms over Canada’s cannabis tourism, but ambitions are high

TORONTO — Longtime marijuana advocate Neev Tapiero is ready for the cannabis-driven… Continue reading

Feds mulling safeguards to prevent ‘surge’ of cheap steel imports into Canada

OTTAWA — The federal government extended an olive branch of sorts to… Continue reading

Ontario govt caps off summer session by passing bill to cut Toronto council size

TORONTO — The Ontario government passed a controversial bill to slash the… Continue reading

Updated:Italian bridge collapse sends cars plunging, killing 26

MILAN — A 51-year-old highway bridge in the Italian port city of… Continue reading

Saudi Arabia spat affecting Canadians embarking on hajj, community members say

TORONTO — Members of Canada’s Muslim community say recent tensions between Ottawa… Continue reading

Tug carrying up to 22,000 litres of fuel capsizes in Fraser River off Vancouver

VANCOUVER — The smell of diesel filled the air as crews worked… Continue reading

Nebraska executes first inmate using fentanyl

LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska carried out its first execution in more than… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month