Friday, November 18, 2016

Holiday Party Games for the Office Team

Holiday Party Raleigh DJ

Raleigh DJ Holiday Party
Oh, those frightful Holiday parties. You know the one's. They require you to dress up and mingle, there is usually a sit down dinner, a speech from a leader/boss man/CEO and perhaps a white elephant gift game, or prize drawing and that's a wrap. Not only has Top Notch attended numerous events such as these, Top Notch has unfortunately also serviced these events. With the Holidays approaching quickly (exactly 36 days as I write this until Christmas 2016) I have been requested by a number of past customers for a new blog article focusing on some of the more recent holiday entertainment and games that Top Notch DJ Service incorporates into our Holiday and End of the Year Parties. Without further ado, below is a list of just a few popular activities you will find Top Notch DJ Service including in our 2016 Corporate Holiday events.
  1. Jingle Box-
    Corporate Party Game Jingle Box
    Top Notch DJ Service Holiday Games - Jingle Box
    How to Play: Jingle Bells (or Sleigh bells) are placed in present or gift boxes. The game hostess should have between 5-9 different present boxes for this game to work well. Different quantities of the bells should be placed in each box. Participants can determine the amount of bells in each box by shaking and rattling the box so that the bells will ring.   Participants are allowed 1-2 minutes to arrange the boxes in the correct order from the least to the greatest number of bells. (Hint- for an even more exciting game, require the participants to be blind folded while they attempt to arrange the “Jingle Boxes”

    2.  Saran Wrap Ball - (compliments from website Awesome Jelly for posting this idea) 
    Corporate Party
    Saran Wrap Ball- picture from

    How to Play: This game does require some prep work as the party host will need to create this enormous ball of saran wrap. Be sure to include fun Christmas Candies and treats throughout the wrapping of the ball, along with 1 major key prize in the center of the ball that all participants will be eager to obtain. How to Play: Participants must either sit or stand in a circle. The first chosen participant may begin unraveling the ball, meanwhile the participant beside him/her should have a roll of dice and attempt to roll doubles. Once the participant rolls doubles the ball is passed to them and the dice to the next person in the circle until all gifts in the Saran Wrap are acquired and the ball has been completely destructed. 

    Top Notch DJ Service Holiday Game
    Image from the move "A Christmas Story"
    3. Holiday Movie ID -
    How to Play: Participants are formed into groups and are given either buzzers, bells or chimers to ring in their answer. The party host should state a list of buzzwords. These buzzwords can be various words, items or phrases from specific famous Holiday movies. Along with the list of buzzwords, the host should state a buzzword that is in fact NOT a part of the Holiday movie category. The first group that identifies the holiday buzzword that does not belong receives a point. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins. An example would be 
    Category: A Christmas Story”   Buzzwords: Red Rider, Bunny Suit. “I Triple Dog Dare You”, Elf on the Shelf. The buzzword that would not belong would be “Elf on the Shelf” 

    Raleigh DJ Holiday Game Idea

    4.  Right Left Gift Exchange - (also known as the The Grinch Gift Game) (original idea for game credited to Diva Girl Parties & Stuff
    How To Play: A short speech or holiday story is composed and read by the party host that MUST include the words “Left” and “Right” repeatedly (such as “When Santa left Bobby's home, he jumped in his sled and immediately went right to Jenny's house, he went right through the chimney and left only 3 presents” Participants must be formed into a circle with unclaimed gifts in their hands. As the party host reads the story, every time the word “Right” is read, the participants must pass their gifts right, similarly when the word “Left” is read, participants must bass their gift left. When the story has concluded participants can keep whichever gifts they are holding.
    Grinch Gift Game
    Image from "How The Grinch Stole Christmas"
    NOTE:Alternative versions of this activity includes reading the story "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and passing the gift one direction when the word "Grinch" is read, meanwhile passing the gift the other direction when the word "Who" is read (such as Whoville, Cindy Loo Who, etc)

    Raleigh DJ Corporate Party Ideas
    Junk the Trunk Game. Original image found here
    5.  Jingling Trunk- 
    How to Play: This game is basically similar to “Junk in the Trunk” which Top Notch plays at various pool parties, birthday parties and other types of events. 2-5 empty tissue boxes are required along with string or belts and jingle bells. Jingle bells should be placed in each tissue box and tissue boxes are attached to the participants prior to the start of the game. Participants must shake their hips in the attempt to shake all of the jingle bells out of their box. The first to shake all of the bells out within 1 minute wins!  

           Conclusion: Holiday Party games are not only great Ice Breakers for any corporate or holiday event, but many also incorporate teamwork, camaraderie and fun memories between working peers. The result is not only good stories for water cooler chat the next week at the office, but a shared sense of enjoyment outside of the working environment for all involved. Along with the activities listed above, Top Notch does utilize a number of additional ideas and activities for Holiday parties that can be found in a prior Top Notch post by clicking here.

    Need More Help?  
    For even more games and ideas, please feel free to contact Top Notch directly at Thanks for reading!

    Corporate Party Holiday Help

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Songs for your Wedding Recessional

Top Recessional Wedding Songs recommended by Top Notch DJ's

Top Notch DJ Service. Wedding Recession
Picture of Nathan & Ashley Magiera from their wedding recession at Shady Wagon Farm, NC

     The Recessional. A matter of minutes that bring an experience and feeling immediately after a bride and groom have exchanged vows, sealed their love with a kiss and are pronounced husband and wife. The recession is also the initial moment of celebration for the bride and groom as well as their guests. After all of the seriousness, nervousness and pressure that may arrive with the ceremony, including walking up the aisle, the recession is finally a bride and grooms time to turn, face their guests and say to the world “We Did It!!”. Despite this fact, the song selection chosen for the ceremony recession for a bride and groom is quite often overlooked. It’s understandable. A bride may spend her time and efforts in finding that perfect song for her and her bridesmaids to walk down the aisle to, meanwhile, the song selection after the ceremony is often forgotten or neglected to be chosen. That’s where Top Notch comes in!

Top Notch DJ Service
Drew & Brittney Hutchins. Photo by Liz Grogan Photography

     Here is a list of our top recommended and most popular songs to play for the recession of a ceremony. These are selections are broken out into 2 categories, which are the top most common chosen that we play along with a few not so common, less cliché pieces that we often recommend for brides and grooms during consultations. Please note that YOU WILL NOT find the traditional “Bridal March” listed in this post. It is 2016 friends. Not only is “The Bridal March” no longer expected, but it is also very conventional and somewhat unoriginal. To play in place of“The Bridal March” Top Notch recommends the following…..

Most Requested Recessional Songs

1.  Natalie Cole- "This Will Be" (Everlasting Love) 

2. Hall and Oates- "You Make My Dreams Come True"

3. American Authors- "Best Day of My Life"

4. Jason Mraz - "I'm Yours"

5. Etta James - "At Last" 

6. The Emotions- "Best of My Love" 

7. Ray Lamontagne - "You Are the Best Thing" 

8. Zac Brown Band - "Loving You Easy"

9.  The Beatles - "All You Need is Love"

(Note: this is youtube clip is a copy of the original song from a Tribute band" 

10. Bruno Mars- "Marry You" 

Top 15 Less Popular, yet excellent Recession Songs that Top Notch DJ Service recommends includes...

1. Queen - "You're My Best Friend" 

2. Blue Swede- "Hooked On a Feeling" 

3. Michael Jackson - "The Way You Make Me Feel" 

4. Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros- "Home" 

5. Pete Townsend - "Let My Love Open the Door" 

6. Imagine Dragons - "On Top of the World" 

7. Cheryl Lynn- "Got to Be Real"

8. Michael Jackson & Justin Timberlake- "Love Never Felt So Good" 

9. Beyonce - "Love on Top" 

10. Stevie Wonder- "Signed, Sealed, Delivered"

11. U2 - "Beautiful Day"

12. The Darkness- "I Believe in a Thing Called Love"

13. Frankie Valli- "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" 

14. Nat King Cole- "L.O.V.E"

15. The Lumineers- "Ho Hey" 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Why You Should Hire a Wedding planner. (A DJ's Perspective)

Wedding Planner rescue
Wedding Planner to Save the Day!! 

        The reception has begun. It's cocktail hour and guests are busy mingling, chatting and enjoying drinks and horderves. The original plan was for guests not to be seated. In fact, the bride and groom even opted to skip a plated meal as they did not desire for their guests to sit through their wedding reception. I hear the words “Dj, The Bridal Party has arrived. There is not a wedding coordinator hired so they have asked for you to assist them in coordinating their entrance, first dance, etc, can you please leave your station and advise them in their Bridal Suite located on the 5th floor”. Top Notch has performed hundreds of weddings with the absence of a wedding coordinator. The result of this is usually the DJ (aka us) stepping in to control and assist in coordinating the overall flow of the event and or reception. So, in this case of course I obliged, assisted the bridal party and the wedding reception went fabulous.

Wedding Clean Up
Wedding Clean Up. Image by Azul Photography 

Oh Wait! Let's rewind. There is a part of this story that should be worth mentioning. The bride was awake at the crack of dawn on her wedding day with her bridesmaids at the venue setting up decorations, bringing in the wedding cake, stocking up the beer and liquor and ultimately preparing for as much as she could for the event. The conclusion of the reception was more of the same, no grand exit, simply a “congrats” from the wedding guests as the bride, groom and bridal party stayed behind to clean up the venue. I see this scenario far too often. So much work. So much preparation. So much effort placed into the event and one of the most common statements I hear soon "wedtobe's"  say is the following “I'll Just be Glad When It's Over”. It's Your WEDDING DAY WE'RE TALKING ABOUT HERE!! One should savor the entire day and relish in all of the wonderful, magical moments that a monumental occasion such as a wedding should be. That's why today's message focuses on the multiple reasons why a bride and groom should hire wedding planner/day of coordinator to assist them in scheduling, planning and running their “Big Day”.

Wedding Time
Save Time on Your Wedding Day! 
Reason # 1- Save Time - Let's get the obvious reason out of the way first. Brides know a wedding coordinator will save them a tremendous amount of time in the planning stages prior to their wedding as well as during their wedding. From creating assigned seating charts, to ordering the appropriate linens, an event coordinator can create and plan your event to your standards and likings meanwhile saving you tons of time in the initial planning stages. Furthermore, on your wedding day, duties such as prep work, décor, meeting vendors to let them in the venue, etc can all be completed via your assigned wedding planner or day of coordinator, allowing you additional time to enjoy the day!

Saving Money for Wedding
Save Money for your Wedding
Reason # 2- They Can Save you Money- Wait? What? How so? An event planner costs money correct? In actuality, Yes, of course hiring an event planner will require you and your fiance to shell out a few extra dollars from the wedding budget, however, trusting in the experience, and relationships of an event planner can often save your wedding budge overall. For starters, wedding and event planners know where to find the best deals on items for your wedding day. Instead of the bride ordering things directly through amazon or other specialty shops for specific items that she has seen on Pinterest (yes this happens quite often), a wedding planner may advise a bride or groom of a local shop or store that can offer the same or similar product at half the price. Additionally, wedding and event planners are familiar with the standard rates for the majority of vendors that are hired for a wedding. They can advise a bride and groom if the quoted price for entertainment, photography or catering is high, or low, and often their relationship with specific vendors will allow a bride and groom to receive that vendors service at a discounted rate. Top Notch for example often immediately provides a discount for specific weddings and events that certain event planners are involved in planning around the area. Oh, and let's not forget to mention the critical point that wedding planners are usually
phenomenal for managing and halting the overspending of a wedding budget.

  1. Stressed Out Couple
    That's 1 Stressed  Bride and Groom 
    Reason # 3- Save Stress- Planning a wedding can take a large amount of effort. Additionally many facets of the wedding planning process can feel much more like homework rather than a glamorous and fun duty in prepping for the “Big Day”. Take the example mentioned at the beginning of this post. So much stress could have been eliminated from the bride and groom if an event planner was hired to assist them in coordinating and performing the numerous actions their wedding required them to personally handle. 

    Wedding Issue
    Wedding Fires are bound to occur 

  2. Reason # 4- Save Sanity (when the fires start)- On a wedding day something is almost guaranteed to go wrong. It is inevitable. The ceremony could be delayed because the mother of the groom does not arrive on time, the wedding cake is neglected to be put at the reception to be cut for all to see (yes that actually happened at a recent event), a bridesmaids dress suddenly does not fit (I've seen this one happen too), the things that could go wrong are endless. The solutions to solving these fires that will arise will often be the newlyweds responsibility if an event coordinator nor wedding planner is not present. Countless times I have personally seen a bride frustrated at friends, loved ones, etc on her wedding day because small items or requirements were forgotten or slipped through the cracks.  When a bride learns of these dilemmas during the ceremony or reception the result is her ultimately pulling away from enjoying the event she has worked so hard to prepare for. Wedding planners can serve as the “Go To”person, the designated problem solver, the “Superwoman” that may resolve the dilemmas before the small flame issues turns into fires that potentially ruin a wedding. Top Notch performed a wedding earlier this year when an assigned party neglected to bring the alcohol they were responsible for providing. The result lead to the Groom leaving the wedding 20 minutes prior to the ceremony start time to pick up alcohol, and the ceremony being delayed nearly an hour. This example is only one of many scenarios, Top Notch has seen that would have easily been avoided if an experienced wedding planner was hired to resolve such rising situations. 
  1. Reason # 5- Save Your Experience & Memories- A wedding is undoubtedly one of the most important days of an individuals life. It should be full of positive emotions such as fun, love, joy and excitement. Furthermore, the lasting impressions after a wedding should hopefully be the same. When a wedding planner is hired, the duties listed throughout this post are handled appropriately. Worries of stress, time, schedule coordination, money, and problems that may arise throughout the day are not placed on you nor your spouses shoulders. The result is a bride and groom present physically and mentally in the thrilling moments of their “Big Day”. Additionally, their lasting impressions and memories of the day will more than likely be similar, optimistic, and positive recollections.

In Conclusion:

      To enjoy the wedding day or to run around frantically with responsibilities on your wedding day, that is the question. Please understand, this post is not to deter future brides and grooms that do not desire a wedding planner, it is only to accentuate the tremendous assistance a wedding planner can provide to a wedding or event. It should also be noted that NOT ALL  VENUE COORDINATORS that are present at a wedding  are assigned the responsibility of assisting a bride and groom. A venue coordinator and wedding planner can certainly be two different things, with different obligations in assisting a wedding or event. With that being said, below are a few local wedding and event planners that Top Notch recommends and works with on a regular basis. I invite all future "wedtobe's" to research and even contact the below listed parties to determine the many additional wedding services Top Notch may have neglected to mention in this post. As stated in the title, the above actions and duties of a wedding planner are from this DJ's point of view only. As always, thanks for reading!

Event Planners Top Notch recommends:

Happily Ever After

Jennifer V Events

 Pearls and Lace Weddings-

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Wedding Reception Games your Guests will LOVE!

“Oh yay, a wedding, I can't wait to attend so I can sit at a table for the evening” said no one ever!! Top Notch understands that a level of importance, elegance, structure, and class must be displayed at a wedding, however, this does not mean your wedding reception has to be BORING. Too often, Top Notch works with future brides and grooms that initially desire a “magical” evening entailed with a beautiful ceremony, a nice cocktail hour, wonderful fellowship, accompanied love music to fit the occasion (played by the band or DJ) and a delectable dinner followed by fun and dancing. Although the above described scenario is always the ultimate goal, sometimes a lengthy ceremony or cocktail hour, long dinner hour, and an array of slow paced love jams, can actually bore your guests. Why not liven things up with a number of activities, and games for your guests to play? Below Top Notch DJ Service shares a number of great ideas and activities your wedding guests can enjoy. PLEASE NOTE: You will not find the “ever popular Shoe Game in this post, instead you will hopefully discover a list of vibrant, fresh, and even quirky ideas that your guests may find unique, memorable, and ultimately enjoyable.

  1.   I-SPY- Recently played at a Top Notch DJ Service wedding for Brandon & Natalie (see wedding clip here) this activity is an excellent way to keep guests young and old amused. Furthermore, by making the activity a contest with a guests prize, and involving engaging items, guests are more prone to participate. Additionally, with a multitude of social media, photo sharing, and even wedding apps now available, guests can photograph the items and a winner can be determined directly from one's smart phone. It is suggested to provide guests with at least 8 but no more than 15 items that they are required to locate and the more interesting items = the more fun for the guests. Examples Top Notch has seen for this game in the past include “The Groom in a Diaper” (guests had to find his baby photo), “the officiant dancing”, “Something Borrowed & Blue” and more. The first guests to post the wedding photos onto the wedding app or social media platform (instagram, facebook) that you are using is the winner! Plus this allows the bride and groom to suddenly have numerous, entertaining photos from their wedding day instantaneously.

  2. Say Cheese for the Guestbook! - In substitute of having wedding guests sign a guestbook, the wedding attendees are instead allowed to take a photo which they can glue to a scrap book and then sign their names and include their best wishes for your wedding day. This activity works well, when there is a particular person assigned to operate either a Polaroid camera, or an immediate print and scan machine (click here for ideas). Furthermore, while posing for the camera, a copy of the picture can be printed for each guests to take home as a keepsake. To expand on this concept for additional fun incorporate a photo booth or photo props for guests to utilize

  3. He Said/She Said or “Was it the Bride or Groom”Game - This activity can be played during the reception and is similar to the Shoe Game, however, it does allow for all wedding attendees to be involved. How to Play: Rare Facts or Statements are provided to the Emcee/Host about the Bride and Groom. Wedding guests are then divided into teams (usually by the numbered table they are at for Dinner) and are asked a list of questions. The teams must be determine if the question pertains to the Bride or the Groom. Each question= 1 point. Top Notch usually prepares 10-12 questions with the intent of asking 10 questions, but having 2 questions as a bonus round/tie breakers when needed. To make this game more thrilling, it is exciting to provide guests with a fun prop to answer their questions such as a Barbie/GI Joe per table to represent the bride and groom, stuffed animals that are clearly boy or girl, or even an image of the bride and groom glued to the front and back of a lollipop or similar type stick (like the image on the right).

  4. Music Video Marryoke- Don't worry, this activity isn't exactly karaoke, instead it consists more of famous reenactments and dance moves all caught on video. For this specific concept to take place at a wedding either a hired videographer, or an assigned person (that preferably knows how to work a video camera) is designated to film the guests. A specific space in the reception venue should be allotted for this activity. The directions are simply this: Guests are required to do their best impression, of a dance move from a popular film, TV show or even music video. Examples may include the dance to “You're the One that I Want” by John Travolta and Olivia Newton John from the move Grease, the Macarena, or even the new “Whip/Nae Nae” dance sensation. A video camera with tripod is needed along with an Ipad or some type of device to allow guests to review the dance moves of their chosen reenactment scene before they are filmed. Allow guests to receive a copy of their dance (if they desire) and this make's for hilarious video footage that the bride and groom may keep. It is important to mention, this activity is successful if only 1 or 2 movie or dance scene reenactments are chosen for guests to duplicate(deterring certain guests from choosing random acts that are not comical or music related) and the bride and groom make it a requirement for all guests to participate.
    For an example of a Marryoke clip, check out this video!

    Marryoke At It's Finest!!

  5. Chinese Fortune Tellers- There are 2 types of fortune tellers that Top Notch has seen at weddings, they are “Origami” (also known to some as Cootie Catchers (see an example by clicking here) and then there are Chinese Fortune Tellers with sticks which are great fun for wedding guests during cocktail hour as guests are finishing dinner. Fortune sticks with painted numbers on them are placed in a barrel at each dinner table and 1 guest at each table is assigned to be the “fortune teller”. Guests may draw sticks and advise the assigned fortune teller the number painted on their specific stick. The “fortune teller” using the provided “fortune teller pamphlet” can then provide the guests drawing the sticks their fortunes based on their numbers. For more information or a brief tutorial of this activity, see below!

     I know, I know, some may have the notion that the Wedding Day should be about the bride, not the wedding guests. In a sense, this is true, but the wedding guests are present on a bride's “ Big Day” to share the experience, the moments, and the memories with the bride and groom. With that being said, wouldn't it be great to ensure that they have a great time while attending the event as well? With activities planned such as those mentioned above, not only is the wedding filled with amusing activities for all of the guests, but they will most likely have a more favorable, fond, and pleasant memory of their time at your wedding reception when it's all said and done. For additional ideas and activities, feel free to send an email to Thanks for reading! 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Hey DJ do you know Your Venue?

 Castle McCulloch
Pictured: a photograph of Castle McCulloch taken by

     Music, a play list and mixes prepared for the event? CHECK! All equipment packed up and ready to go? CHECK! Knowing your venue and you’re destination? CHECK! You’re all set right? WAIT! Let’s revisit that last question again as this is not only a question that many musicians, DJ’s and even event planners fail to grasp, but it can also lead to your largest challenge in preparing for an event. So do you know the venue? The question posed is not simply referring to the name of the location “The Boondocks on 4th Street” for example, nor is it inquiring that you’re familiar with the address location. In order to be 100% prepared before an event it helps tremendously if you know and understand the layout, the structure, the ins and outs, the sets ups required and even the challenges that may await before you even arrive at a venue. Although I myself am very guilty of not thoroughly researching all venues before an event, below are the top 5 reasons Top Notch strives to research and recommends that all entertainers know their venue before performing.

1. Equipment-  Knowing the venue prior to arrival can provide great insight as to what equipment to use for the event. Does the size of the venue require 2 speakers or 4-6? Additionally, the height of the ceiling may determine which lights as well as even which light stand could work. Tall scanners that must be placed on a stand and are heightened to shine on a dance floor will obviously not be effective nor very useful at a venue with low vaulted ceilings. Furthermore, while on the topic of lighting, if uplighting is required, it’s always a good idea to know the size of the room so that the number of lights needed to appropriately illuminate the space can be determined.  Lastly, alongside speakers and lighting, becoming familiar with the venue prior to the event start time may assist you in understanding if there are any additional items that may be required or supplied for the event such as a table, linen, extension chords, etc. Radio personality and Mobile DJ, Frank Carbone of CWDJ’s states “I visit each (local) venue and for those that are not local “I call to gather information about the venue and hopefully gather pictures of the event space so I can plan accordingly” to insure that he is never in a bind due to a venue. (visit Frank Carbone's DJ site at

2. TimingAn article was written here in the Top Notch blog about timing back in January. Timing is a huge, critical factor for Dj’s and in regards to a venue, the same concept applies. I hear stories and have actually witnessed fellow DJ’s running late for events, not because they neglected to allow the proper time for the set up of their equipment, but they neglected to anticipate the challenges that the venue contained which ultimately slowed them down and made them tardy. A venue can offer a number of challenges that could deter an entertainer from setting up on time including traffic, parking (traffic and parking are always large issues that can swallow up unexpected time in downtown Raleigh), the floor of the building that your event may be held on, and if there is an elevator that is not only available, but also functioning, Becoming familiar with the venue may help you anticipate these challenges and therefore     allow prompt time for your set up.

3.  “The Surprise Factor”- The “Surprise Factor” also known as the “oh SH!T factor” is all too familiar with DJ’s. The concept applies usually prior to an event when a complication or obstacle is present that could have been foreseen. Recent examples for Top Notch involving the “Surprise Factor” include 1. A wedding coordinator contacting Top Notch for Ceremony music assistance at a wedding only to learn that no power outlets were present on site at the venue, 2. A wedding venue designated guests to dine for dinner at a specific space on their facility where they provided their own speakers and sound equipment only to learn that it was malfunctioning so there was no music nor speakers for dinner and toasts at this wedding and 3.  Even being stuck in an elevator at a popular downtown wedding facility only to learn later that a select portion of elevators will open and close but are not functional on the weekends (thank goodness someone found me!). All circumstances could have easily been avoided with further research, communication and learning of the updates and layouts of the venues before 
the events.

4. Security and Trust- Going out of your way and taking the extra effort and time to research and even visit a venue builds an extra sense of trust for the event planners, coordinators and even the bride and groom of an event. It shows you care enough about their event to learn the ins and outs of their chosen venue and allows you to potentially meet the venue owners, event planners, etc that could be on site. Furthermore, as their entertainer or DJ, you may think of questions or recommendations that you could provide to the owner of the facility or even the event planner for your event such as where the dance floor could be placed, the best spot for the DJ and speakers, etc. "I definitely research a venue and love to get a floorpan if one is available state's local friend, fellow DJ and Curtis Media Operations Manager, Joel Gillie, "it take's the stress off of me if I know the layout and I know where I will be, and when the bride mentions specifics about the venue it's good if I know what's she's talking about" he goes on to say. (check out Joel at 

        5.  Confidence- Lastly, and incontestably, by performing the necessary research and understanding of a venue it will ultimately provide you as the performer with more confidence, less stress and a more optimistic outlook on the event.  Knowing that you have done your homework, prepared and should not have to fret over equipment setting up, timing or surprise factor issues will create an ease to your persona through the evening. Any entertainer will affirm that having that this additional peace prior to an event makes a world of difference.

     Of course it is impossible to predict all issues and dilemmas that could occur at an event, however, being as prepared as possible is essential as a professional entertainer. This preparation does include understanding more than just the name and location of a venue. As an entertainer, we have plenty to worry about like equipment, intoxicated patrons, timelines, and of course, entertaining just to name a few. Don’t let the dilemmas that may meet you at your next venue delay you in setting up or working to your full potential. Out there lies small, low vaulted ceiling spaces, broken elevators, and a number of venue conundrums that we will undoubtedly confront. The more research and prepared you are for these circumstance’s, the less of a predicament the problems will seem and you therefore will come off as a professional!


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Fighting Hearing Loss- A Note to Fellow DJ's

       I was warned. We were all warned. It’s no secret. Playing music repeatedly at loud volumes creates the potential to damage one’s hearing. We’ve heard this fact since we were kids. Only now, this Top Notch DJ is no longer a kid. I’ve personally lived by the concept “worry about it later”. Strangely enough, due to this profession that “worry” has crept up sooner rather than later. After over a decade of playing music in and out of clubs throughout North Carolina, I can unfortunately state that I recently have become very cognitive of a slight decrease in my hearing. I find myself misunderstanding words and asking people to repeat their statements more frequently. What can I say, it’s not like I didn’t see this coming and I do know that I am not by any means in this boat alone. I’ve had discussions with fellow DJ’s & musicians around the Raleigh area that have addressed these same concerns with me. In fact, it was recently reported that even artists/hitmaker Zedd has lost hearing in his left ear. It’s a risks that all entertainers are wary of. Fortunately. there are however, steps that I intend to take moving forward to avoid further loss if possible. Fellow DJ’s, I hope the below tips may assist you as well.

1.     Be Aware of Your Exposure and DJ Schedule- It is critical for us to be knowledgeable of how often we are exposing ourselves to music at increased volumes. This does not pertain to just our job as a DJ, but also everyday practices and/or habits that may not be assisting your fight against hearing loss. For me personally, this exposure was found via my “ear plugs” when exercising. Do you listen to music loudly when in your car? Along with deejaying, do you have a 9-5 that entails construction with loud machines? In your spare time do you enjoy attending local or large concerts? It is important to simplify identify the lifestyle actions in addition to our deejaying that could increase our level of hearing loss. Only after identifying these exposures can you personally make the decision to cut back or avoid them if you so choose.
2.     Know your Schedule- What does your schedule have to do with hearing loss? If being a DJ is your profession, EVERYTHING! It is essential to know not only where you’re playing, but also your length of scheduled playing time, and even how the size of the crowd you are playing for (if your supplying your own speakers). For resident DJ’s that bounce from club to club, this practice applies to you as well as you should know the sound system, amount of speakers and even the volumes level that the music is played at. Knowing these facts again ties into Tip #1 which is EXPOSURE. Additionally, Top Notch Entertainment and DJ Services very rarely schedules more than 2 events per day, and never more than 4 per week, as the constant exposure to hearing loss leaves very little time for ear follicles to recover from the loud music.
3.     Don’t Use a Monitor Unless You Have To! – I know it sounds crazy especially for resident DJ’s in the bar/club scene, but utilizing a house monitor is undoubtedly the biggest threat to Tinnitus that we most likely face. The quality of these monitors vary drastically from venue to venue. Some lack power, some lack volume,  but rarely have I personally encountered one that is adjusted perfectly to my hearing preference. This Tip is pretty obvious. Along with playing music in your headphones at loud volumes while simultaneously blaring tunes on the house speakers at loud volumes, having an additional speaker at close proximity to your ear drums, is simply not the best case scenario for fighting hearing loss.
4.     Quality! Quality! Quality! – Have you ever heard the saying “If you don’t buy quality, you’ll pay for it later”? The cost could be your hearing! It is imperative to have quality headphones while mixing your set.  Additionally, always strive to find the highest quality of your music when possible. The more clearer the sound and the better you can hear, the less you will be adjusting volumes in your cue for listening.
5.     Get Ear Plugs- Yes, I know 90% of DJ’s are completely against this option. But, ear monitors are available at affordable prices now, and one can even purchase DB frequency reducing ear plugs that fit quite nicely in your near, and to some could even be unnoticeable. Furthermore, many ear plugs can now even be customized and specifically molded for you. For more information regarding customizable ear plugs, Top Notch recommends reading this helpful article here by DJ Tech Tools. (click this link
     Keep in mind, that Hearing Loss aka Tinnitus is at the current time, without a cure. Once your hearing is gone, it’s GONE! Although I would never suggest that fellow entertainer, musician or DJ halt their passion and practice of playing music to simply avoid this risk, I hope this article does at least assist in identifying a few strategies that can be practiced to at least delay or decelerate the hearing loss progress.