I thought I'd share a couple of thoughts which I realized have made a world of a difference for me personally. I've had a break from practicing/turntablism for almost a decade, but I'm amazed by the progress during the last couple of months after getting back to it. I've pretty much surpassed what I achieved in over five years when I first started. I scratch with my weak (left) hand on the record and back in the day interest in practicing pretty much died with the lack of progress (also a lack of mates and jam sessions).
Drilling the basics:
- Minimum hand movement. I mean, strip it down to the last millimeter. Drilling tears and and babies for even a few minutes every practice with intentionally focusing on barely moving the record hand. I believe this is what Symatic is referring to when talking about relaxing yourself. With minimum hand movement and getting consistent helps to reduce strain. Of course you have constantly push your comfort zone, but I clearly remember being too aggressive with the record hand back in the day. The smallest details, like how little you should lift your record hand on release, can make a huge difference.
- Tears. Lots of them. This time around I really started being analytic about my practicing habits. Now I've intentionally focused on doing tears with movement of the palm/knuckles/fingers only, not the entire arm/shoulder etc. Same thing as above, just relaxing and starting super slow (minimum movement, slow pitch etc.) and building up muscle memory. When things become effortless, moving on to triplets, double timing, higher BPMs. Also doing babies with the palm motion only with the platter off is a great strength exercise.
- Focusing on 2-click and 3-click orbits and different rhythmic and timing patterns using them. Brings benefits to transformers, but this was my biggest revelation. Pre youtube you had all these fancy tutorials about advanced scratches, but looking back at them now, seems as if they were over-complicating and over-mystifying what were essentially only variations on 2-clicks and 3-clicks. After getting comfortable with 2-clicks and 3-clicks, learning boomerangs, aquamans, swing flares, etc. becomes a breeze.
Of course youtube has helped a ton, but still having a solid foundation is the key. And for me, it feels like a snowball effect: had most of the fader foundation (basic 2-clicks, solid transformers, crabs), but with a new mindset and outlook, the progress has been faster than I expected. I just never had a solid record hand, but now it's finally coming along...