The importance of sound engineers on Sunday mornings cannot be overstated. You, your team, your choir, your musicians, your pastors, and your pet turtles can rehearse every day of the week, but if your sound engineer falls asleep on Sunday morning or decides to blast the congregation with 15 seconds of screaming feedback, nothing else can matter.
So then it’s important not to annoy them. You want to be on the same team, striving for the same goal, building one another up in love, and not harboring resentment or frustration. An annoyed sound engineer will either (a) quit, (b) not care, or (c) both.
Some worship leaders might not realize how they’re annoying their sound engineer. Here are ten ways:
Unplug your guitar without making sure the channel is muted first. News flash: your sound engineer often has 89 things on his mind. Catch his eye and make sure he’s muted your guitar before you unplug it and make all the old ladies jump out of their skin.
Look at your sound engineer like it’s his fault when you do something stupid. I’ve mastered the art of this one. Let’s say I unplug my guitar before the channel is muted. Old ladies then jump out of their skin, and parents throw themselves on top of their children to protect them from the sounds of gunfire. What do I do? I look at the sound engineer like he should be ashamed of himself. For some reason this annoys them…
Always ask for more. I need a little bit more of my voice. OK now I need less Susan. And can I have more of my guitar? OK, now I need a lot more of my voice. I’m still hearing too much keyboard. Can you turn my guitar up please? Now I could use less electric. I can’t hear my voice. Is my guitar in this thing? (kneel down and put your ear to the monitor) I don’t think this monitor is on. Can you turn me up in it? I just need a lot less of everybody else and a whole lot more of me. Yes, just turn me up. Turn the rest of the band down. I could still use a lot more of my guitar. Can you give me some reverb please?
Assume that your request is the most important thing in the whole wide world. News flash: your sound engineer often is having to deal with burned out batteries, bad cables, setting gain structures, EQ, feedback, running monitors, recording the sermon, making sure the preacher has a mic, fixing the projector, dealing with complaints, and guitarists who are unplugging their guitar before the channel is muted. Just because you’re the worship leader and your guitar is too loud at the moment doesn’t mean he can drop all those things to attend to you.
Can you come down here and move this monitor three inches while I stand here with my guitar and watch you run down from the sound desk and back again? Sure, I could move it myself, but I’m the worship leader and I have to protect my hands.
Assume that your sound engineer can read minds. You want your back-up singer to start off the third song? Do you think you could tell your sound engineer ahead of time? No, it’s probably a better idea to keep that a secret and let him read your mind.
I know that you’re a sound engineer and have been setting up for three hours and have carefully considered mic placement and how to avoid feedback, but I’m the worship leader and I’d like to move everything around please. I’ve done this and it’s not pretty. You’re now moving beyond the realm of annoying your sound engineer into provoking his wrath and indignation against you.
Expect your sound engineer to defy the limits of the sound board. OK, so this Sunday I have four vocalists, 2 guitars, an electric, a bass, drums, keyboard, hand percussion, a small choir, a trumpet player, a synthesizer, and flute. Nevermind we have an 8-channel board and 2 monitor mixes. Jesus multiplied the fishes and loaves, right? Get on it, sound engineer. Work your miracles.
Treat your microphone like it’s contagious. I like to sing with my mouth 8 inches away from the microphone. That way it lets the “space” get into the sound. Treat the microphone like it’s contagious. It’s awesome. It’s the new thing. My sound guy loves it. But for some reason it’s never loud enough. Go figure.
Oh, yeah, I’m sorry, we didn’t tell you that we decided half an hour ago to change the order of the service and what person was assigned to speak at different times. There was a moat filled with hungry alligators that was keeping us from reaching the sound desk, and those alligators had cell phone blocking technology which kept my text messages from going through, and those loud popping noises you heard were the hungry alligators unplugging my guitar when the channel wasn’t muted. You should really be more attentive.