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Baby DJ School Brings Beats to Upper East Side

By DNAinfo Staff on October 3, 2014 7:28am

 Davis, 6 months old, got an early start on learning to be a DJ through a Baby DJ School program.
Davis, 6 months old, got an early start on learning to be a DJ through a Baby DJ School program.
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Dara Moreno McCollough

MANHATTAN — Natalie Weiss takes Kidz Bop to another level, offering toddlers the chance to flex their fingertips on soundboards and turntables — in the comfort of their own home.

Weiss’ Baby DJ School kicked off its first-ever home lesson at a private apartment on the Upper East Side on Thursday, allowing kids the chance to spin records before they can even walk.

The 32-year-old disc jockey said her eight-week program filled with disco and electronic dance music for children as young as 3 months was such a hit when she offered it elsewhere in the city that Upper East Side moms begged her to bring it to them as well.

“Parents heard through word of mouth and wanted to do it so badly they didn’t want to wait until I found a place in the neighborhood. It reached capacity in its first week,” she said of the nine-spot class, which is held in an apartment on East 90th Street.

For kids up to 3 years old, Baby DJ School “transforms the ordinary mommy-and-me sing-along experience into an educational escapade into the wonderful worlds of electro, hip-hop and house,” the company’s website reads. Participants play records, move sliders and interact with music software.

Weiss also currently runs group classes in the East Village and Crown Heights.

“It offers a maternal, feminine perspective to DJ-ing,” Weiss said. “I don’t know any other DJ that coos.”

While some students have yet to utter their first words, Weiss likened the experience to playing an instrument and said classes help to develop the babies’ motor skills.

“A baby can’t do something like play a violin, but with DJ equipment, it’s very suitable for ocular development, good for language development, text recognition — they can push a button, they can whack a record in the direction of a turntable,” she said. “Just because they can’t talk doesn’t mean they’re not picking anything up.”

Parents looking to hear nursery rhymes or popular children’s classics during the 45-minute sessions need not apply. Weiss likes to play “jungle music popular in clubs,” to stir kids’ imaginations in acting like tigers or lions, and spins original tunes titled “Daddy Loves Disco” or “Hashtag Pitch.”

Still, the sessions are not without the controlled chaos that comes with young children.

“I do a lot of sterilizing,” Weiss said. “Everything goes in their mouths, headphones, things like that, but that’s how they learn about it.”

The self-proclaimed “DJ Mary Poppins” attributes her ease with students to her 12 years as a babysitter, and is even looking to start a TV show mixing musical elements with "Mr. Rogers" and "Pee-wee’s Playhouse."

Lisa Horten, a former Park Slope resident, took her son Brooks to one of Weiss’ early Brooklyn classes.

“It was so different from any other kiddie class out there,” Horten said. “Aside from appreciation of music, it’s about getting excited with cool and fun experiences, bringing out different emotions in your child.

“It’s a totally one-of-a-kind thing to try," she continued, "plus is there anything more Park Slope that a baby DJ school?”

Classes cost $200 to $225 for eight weeks, with rates subject to change for private sessions.

In addition to classes on the Upper East Side, Weiss is looking into spaces in Murray Hill and the West Village to find the first baby DJ genius.

“It’s never happened yet in our world where one of these babies come in and shows a proclivity for it. We can have a musician like there’s never been before,” she said. “I’m waiting for my Beethoven.”