I'm not talking about the sudden realization that 20% of the people really indeed do 100% of the work or that the theology of the church isn't in line with what you believe. Or even the realization that the congregation has the evangelistic motivation of a dead raccoon. I’m talking about seeing all your production limitations.
One day, you're in the church sound booth and everything is pretty flowers and sunshine. The next day, you attend a service / event / whatever at a larger church with a larger band with a gi-freaking-normous video display and fog machines and two drum kits and a six-million dollar sound system (roadies not included). It's great! You're singing and worshipping and you even get a peak at the mixer and talk with the head tech. Then you go back to your home church…
You've got a single electronic drum kit with a single audio send to the mixer. No disco balls, no electric light shows, and no tech crew that rivals a SWAT team with comm-gear and black outfits. You're ready to leave your church and move down the street where "they really know how to rock (er…worship)."
Having experienced this myself, I found I had two options; leave my church for bigger and better or use it as a growth opportunity.
Here's what I learned and what I did as a result;
1. I learned it's about the energy of the band, not so much about the lights and the expensive sound system. There is only so much control I have over this but there are a few things I could do;
a) Talk with the worship leader about any energy issues with particular band members. "So-and-so has a flat affect on stage. I can hear it in the mix as well. What can we do to pep him up?"
b) Show my enthusiasm. I love what I do but I get into a zone where I appear very serious and that seriousness does not convey an energetic vibe. Therefore, by modifying my behavior behind the mixer as well as how I communicate with the musicians, they can feel my enthusiasm.
c) Encourage and pump up the musicians. It's one thing to say after the service "ya'll sounded great" but it's another thing to say BEFORE the service "I can't wait to hear you guys play the first song. You sounded great during practice. Isn't it great to worship through music?"
2. I learned that if I don't like an aspect of the equipment, chances are a musician feels the same way. I talked with our drummer about moving to a full drum kit. As it turned out, our drummer also disliked the electronic drums enough that we started working together on a feasibility study of a full drum kit in the church sanctuary.
3. I learned there is more than one way to mix the same song. For example, I recall a worship team doing a rocking version of I'll Fly Away. It was rocking not because they did it in a rock style but instead of the mix using the guitars to drive the song; it used the snare drum to drive it. While I'll readily admit part of this is an arrangement issue, the fact is that the same song can be mixed differently to give the same energy to a song, if not more.
4. I learned it helps working other venues. There are other people and places that need a good sound guy. By working those other venues, I could do more. I could do things differently. I could even learn new techniques and processes (from other sound guys and musicians) and bring those back to my church.
Question(s): Have You Ever Felt The Same Way? What Lessons Have You Learned?