As a kid, I loved fishing. I was a member of B.A.S.S. (Bass Anglers Sportsmen Society). I had autographs from Hank Parker and other professional fisherman. I even caught a five pound bass and released him to swim wild again; catch and release was the motto of the day. My success as a fisherman was attributed to how I learned from those around me. In this article, I explain that method and how you can use it to be a better sound tech.
Being a successful fisherman is about knowing;
- How to use your gear properly
- How to use the different types of lures
- Where to find the fish
- Behavior of the fish (spawning season, feeding times, etc.)
Let's look at fishing lures. There are jigs, plastic worms, and crank-baits to name a few. Each is reeled in at a different speed, moved by the fishing rod in a different way and is appropriate at different times of the day and in different environments.
I'll get to the practical application of this shortly.
During my early days of fishing, I learned how to pick the right color of crank-bait for muddy water and the best techniques for fishing with it; reel it in slowly with an occasional jerk to give it the look of an injured baitfish.
Who taught me the different techniques? The people who fished in ponds and lakes similar to the places I went. The people who were successful at it. And in some cases, people who couldn't catch a fish in a clear lake to save their life but knew exactly how to catch them in a muddy one.
And that's where I'll move now to the audio side of this and give you the practical application…
Learning from Your Team
Often, you read about methods for learning church audio via books, videos, and sites such like this one. Here is one where you can learn from people on your team.
How to set up inner-team instruction:
- Inventory the abilities of your team. Record who is the best at different areas. For example, Dave is great at mixing drums and Sally is great at volume balancing and Fred is great at working with musicians.
- Assign a teaching topic to a person. For example, Dave will teach a session on drum mixing.
- Set a time for the session. A monthly session after a team meeting.
This 1-2-3 setup seems easy enough, but let's give Dave a hand. Dave might not have any idea where to start.
Let's give him some steps to follow;
- Decide the depth of the lesson. Will this include drum mic'ing techniques or will it be limited to mixing drums?
- Provide an outline. The outline could look like this:
a. Importance of a proper drum mix
b. The kit pieces that set tempo (that people use in their monitors)
c. The frequency characteristics of each kit piece
d. The kit piece to mix first
e. Mixing drums for the song "Better is One Day." (Naturally, you'll want a drummer on hand).
f. Lab time – give sound tech's chance to mix for that song.
As for you,
- Give him time. A month's notice is good. Don't say "at tomorrow's meeting, you'll be teaching people how to mix drums."
- Be supportive. Not everyone is a natural teacher. Find out if he could use some assistance during his session, such as passing out hand-outs.
One cool spring day, I was talking with a fellow fisherman about my recent jaunt into fly-fishing. I showed him the flies I was using for bass (all were meant for trout fishing). That's when the unexpected happened. He said he does fly fishing himself and gave me a fly he designed specifically for bass. He said he catches fish with it every time. I went home, made a couple of flies just like it and went fishing with great success.
My point is there are sound tech's all around us that might not be great at all areas of audio work but are great at one area. And you can learn from them. Your team can learn from them.
You can take the above method one step further once you move through everyone's talents. Assign a topic to a person. They research it and present it at the next meeting. For example, if the band plays a cajon every once in a while, a member of the team could research the cajon (freq's, playing styles, mic'ing methods, mixing methods) and present that to the team.
Question(s): What could you teach people on your team?