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Spin doctorates;The Knowledge

IT WON'T guarantee you a transformation into Fat Boy Slim but studying music technology at Amersham and Wycombe College could boost your chances of becoming a professional disc jockey.

For three years now the college has run a one-year City and Guilds qualification in sound engineering and a two-year BTEC National Diploma in Popular Music. And last year it started offering a new BTEC National Diploma in Music Technology.

Andy Taylor, manager of the sound and multi-media section, said: "Quite a few of our students are part-time disc jockeys already but a lot of them want to get into it much more professionally.

"With the low cost of equipment, a lot of them are starting their own small studios to produce dance music."

The BTEC in Popular Music is designed for students with some musical ability who can sing or play the guitar or drums. Although these students study musical technology and theory, their main interest is performance.

The BTEC in Music Technology, which is open to students who do not play a musical instrument, is biased towards the use of audio technology, sound studios and computers to create music. Graduates from this course are more likely to become music producers, music programmers, studio engineers and more competent DJs.

Mr Taylor, a sound engineer by training, said: "One of the skills of being a DJ is putting tracks of a similar tempo together so that people are dancing at a constant speed. They interleave the music with different tracks to give it interest, or take the mood up and down.

"We recently had a disc jockey competition here judged by the famous DJ Goldie. Top DJs can earn up to pound;4,000 a night. It is like getting an artist on stage. People will pay a lot of money to come and hear a particular DJ, especially those who play out in Ibiza and those sorts of places.

"We don't actually teach DJ-ing, but we do give students the musical and technical expertise and knowledge to enhance what they do already. We teach them musicality and the right buttons to press."

Tom Langley, aged 18, who is just starting the second year of the music technology course, was runner-up in the college's DJ competition earlier this year.

He said: "There are lots of DJs on this course. It helps you with the business side, work on contracts and things like that." He has a not-quite-monthly DJ residency at the Bar Med in Beaconsfield. For the future he is considering promoting dance events or perhaps becoming a sound engineer.

Dave Ecclestone, 19, also in his second year, wants to become a sound engineer. He said: "Coming here was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I am in my element learning to record sounds in various ways to achieve different outcomes."

The City and Guilds sound engineering course teaches techniques such as sound mixing and recording, television sound, film sound, live public address system work and putting sound tracks together for theatrical shows.

The department has a 16-track digital studio, two rehearsal rooms, a keyboard suite, a radio production room and two music technology rooms. It is also equipped with computers, mixing consoles and keyboards. Mr Taylor hopes that in future the college will expand into the professional studio market which could be run on a commercial basis.

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