Imagine not worrying about the new sound tech on your team. Imagine if they came to you with years of experience. I’m in that very situation. Here’s how I’m adding him to the team.
First off, because this has been a topic of discussion here on the site…he is a church member. He started attending the church and shortly thereafter mentioned he’d like to join my team at some point. We both agreed that he needed to spend some time at the church with his family and in due time I’d gladly add him to the team. That time is now.
What to teach the experienced sound tech
This weekend, I’ll be running sound and he’ll be helping me. Being a new team member, naturally, I want him tagging along with myself a few times before he is on his own. There are six key pieces of information any experienced tech should know when they are working in a new room.
The six key pieces of information
1. Equipment location
Mixing in different churches for everything from church services to weddings, I always ask where the equipment is located. Therefore, I’ll show him where all the audio equipment is located on the stage, behind the stage, and in the sound booth. He doesn’t need to spend five minutes looking for a condenser microphone.
2. Instrument mic’ing
I don’t need to teach him the process of mic’ing the piano or the djembe. However, I do want to show him the best way I’ve found to do it. I’m not saying he has to use my methods. He might find a new way that gets a better sound. He deserves the ability to be creative and use his own skills and talents.
3. The sound check process
We’ve been using the same process for a long time and it works great. He needs to learn our process and follow it. I don’t want each sound tech to use a different sound check process. Predictable and routine processes benefit everyone because they know what to do and when to do it.
4. Volume average
You know how picky a congregation can be concerning volume. I know exactly our average SPL readings. I’m likely not to tell him about this right away. I want to see how loud he mixes in the room. Once he hits his perfect volume then I’ll step in and say something if necessary. I’d rather he judge by his ears first and then compare it to a number.
5. Musician quirks
Worship leaders have their quirks. Musicians have their quirks. You have your quirks. He needs to know what not to say or do when it comes to the musicians and the worship leader. What might be perceived as a joke to one person could be perceived as a critique by another. I want him starting off with a good relationship with the band. Most experienced sound techs should be able to successfully work with people regardless of knowing their background but let’s be honest…every little bit helps.
5. Congregational mix preference
This is not about volume. Each congregation has preferences in how they like their music mixed; heavy drums, light drums, heavy guitar, heavy vocals, etc. Our congregation likes a mix I’d equate to contemporary Christian pop music. He needs to have that mix in mind so the congregation can focus on worship.
6. Using the recording device
The days of recording to a tape are long gone for most of us. Our CD recorder has a simple step for recording but an easy step to miss after recording. It has a “finalize” function. Miss that and the CD can’t be read.
Is that it?
The rest, I’m leaving up to him. The first time he is on duty, I’ll watch him and only speak when necessary. He needs room to work and find limits. I will only be present in case of problems or I need to make mix recommendations. I want to show him respect for his experience while keeping that in balance with teaching him the uniqueness of our church.
You train a person new to sound by teaching them the technical, the creative, and the uniqueness of your church. When you get an experienced sound tech on your team, don’t short-change them by not teaching them these six key pieces of information. And let them express their skills and creative talents. They might have something to teach you.
Do you have a new person ready to join your team? Get them a copy of Audio Essentials for Church Sound. This book takes them step-by-step through all aspects of church sound. They’ll learn how to set up the stage and how to meet the expectations of the pastor, the musicians, and the congregation. They’ll also learn how to create a solid music mix every time.