This weekend Sandro Charmers made history by opening, on the main stage, the Amsterdam Open Air Festival.
He is just 13-years old and the youngest UK DJ ever to open a festival – anywhere in the world.
Sandro, a pupil at Birkdale High School, in Birkenhead near Liverpool, has been learning to DJ at school as part of the FutureDJs programme.
DJ-ing is part of the national curriculum and can be included in music teaching, however most schools don’t have the equipment or the expertise to teach it. So, Birkdale High School called in FutureDJs to help. FutureDJs supply professional DJ tutors to teach a course developed with classical musicians (to be published by Faber Music later this year) and provide industry standard kit for free into the schools thanks to their partnership with Pioneer DJ.
Sandro has been taking part in the programme for two years with FutureDJs’ visiting school music tutor Max Carton. Through his dedication to the art-form, Sandro has quickly mastered the skill set required to become an exciting and versatile young DJ.
Founders and professional DJs Austen and Scott Smart have been running incubator days with ID-T, one of the largest festival organisers in the world. Their festivals, including Mysteryland and Welcome To The Future, attract around 1m people per year.
Sandro excelled at the most recent incubator day led Mark Blundell AKA DJ Mark One, former DJ to Texas and Madonna, and was invited by Amsterdam Open Air festival to perform a one hour 15 minute set. No small feat for a 13-year-old who’d not only never played at a festival before, but had never even been to one. The stage he was opening would eventually climax with international superstar DJ/producers, Claptone and DJ EZ — some of the biggest names in the DJ world.
Austen Smart, CEO of FutureDJs, said: “Sandro is an ideal student, he is focused and level headed and understands the responsibility that goes with performing. We’re certainly excited by the momentum building around him. Equally we’re also very mindful of his age and school studies. One of our team was world DMC champion by the age of 19 — and he did very well at school—we know it is possible. We’re sure his fascination and passion for electronic music will inspire other young people to dream big, practise and persevere – just as he has done. And we want to be there to help them”.
FutureDJs works within schools to help reverse the decline in the number of students taking GCSE and A-Level music. All FutureDJs lessons are in-line with the current national curriculum and are created by professional DJs and musicians, starting at Key Stage 2 and running through to Key Stage 5, in accordance with the new AQA, OCR and Eduqas GCSE music specifications.
DJing can have a profound and transformative effect on young people; in some cases, it can open a whole new direction in life. Decks can provide focus for a student who may otherwise be disengaged from education. For others it may just shed light onto a world of electronic music that is now worth over $7 billion.
Learning to DJ is similar to learning any other instrument. When DJ-ing is learnt with the right intentions and taught in the right way – with a passion for electronic music at its heart – it can instil the skills and mentality of a musician.
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