Investigating the Value of DJ Performance for Contemporary Music Education and Sensorimotor Synchronisation (SMS) Abilities


  • Douglas MacCutcheon Högskolan i Gävle
  • Alinka E. Greasley University of Leeds
  • Mark T Elliott University of Warwick


DJing, sensorimotor synchronization (SMS), informal learning


Two studies were conducted to establish a more complete picture of the skills that might be accessed through learning to DJ and the potential value of those skills for music education. The first employed open-ended methods to explore perspectives on the value of DJing for music education. The second employed experimental methods to compare the ability of DJs to synchronise movement to auditory metronomes. Twenty-one participants (seven professionally trained musicians, seven informally trained DJs, seven non-musicians) took part in both studies. Qualitative data suggested that all participant groups felt DJs learn valuable musical skills such as rhythm perception, instrumental skills, knowledge of musical structure, performance skills, and a majority agreed that DJing had equal relevance with other musical forms e.g. classical music. Quantitative data showed that informally trained DJs produced more regular timing intervals under baseline and distracting conditions than the other experimental groups. The implications of the findings for the inclusion of DJing into formal music curricula are discussed. 

Author Biographies

Douglas MacCutcheon, Högskolan i Gävle

Marie Curie Trainee and PhD candidate in Developmental Science, Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, University College London

Alinka E. Greasley, University of Leeds

Lecturer in Music Psychology, School of Music, University of Leeds

Mark T Elliott, University of Warwick

Assistant Professor at the Institute of Digital Healthcare, University of Warwick and Honorary Research Fellow in the School of Psychology, University of Birmingham






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