Sunday was the "solo flight" for my new volunteer. I smiled at him as I walked to my seat with my family. I knew he was the most nervous person in the entire sanctuary. After the service, he asked me the best question possible;
"How did I do?"
My immediate thought was to pat him on the back and send him on his way. He had done a good job and even remembered to record the sermon – a common rookie error. Instead of going with my first thought, I paused for a moment and said;
"You did a really good job. It's hard to pick a good lead vocal volume when we are singing congregational hymns and I think you did a good job on that. I do have one suggestion as it relates to using a microphone with the piano…"
After talking with him for a few minutes, I realized he asked me a question that all sound tech's should ask from time to time; "how did I do?" It's so easy to think that because we've been doing this for 6 months, 1 year, 4 years, or even 15 years that we can't improve. How many times can you mix the same band until you just nail the perfect mix? What if it's not as perfect as you think? What if someone else walked into the booth, tweaked a few settings, and suddenly your "perfect mix" sounds flat in comparison to what they have produced?
Every church doesn't have an audio guru but every church does have ears. (ok, that came out differently than I had planned.) That being said, try out the following for the first four weeks of 2010 and see what happens:
1. Ask the question "How did I do?" or "How did it sound?"
2. Ask that question to the following people;
a. Another sound tech
b. One friend
c. The worship leader
d. A musician on stage
3. Evaluate their answers. If you have two that conflict (sound great/sounded bad) then ask those with negative comments to expand – "what exactly sounded bad?"
4. Act on the answers for the next service. Then ask the same people the same question the next week.
No one is going to give us constructive criticism unless we ask for it. And asking for it…that's how we grow.
What have you used to evaluate the quality of your work? Do you have a skill that could be used to mentor/help other sound techs?