ReMix: Practice Makes Perfect

Earlier this week ProSound Web re-publised one of my earlier articles (one that I had forgotten about). It seemed to generate some buzz so I started wondering what else was laying back there in the cobwebs. I found this post that originated over three and a half years ago. It's pretty good and with a few tweaks, suitable for remixing. Enjoy...

It's a phrase we hear all the time, right? Practice makes perfect. Actually, it doesn't. Perfect practice makes perfect. Regular old practice just ingrains the same mistakes into your mind. But I digress. It's commonly understood that if you want to get better at something, you need to practice. But now it's time for one of Mike's #1 pet peeves —people serving in the technical arts at church who are not committed to getting better at what they do. This boggles my mind.

We expect that the worship team will practice their music individually, and corporately prior to the service (and if they don't shame on them—but that's another post). This practice not only familiarizes them with the music, but also hones their skills as a musician. The same holds true for drama people. We would expect the preaching pastor to continue to improve not only their hermeneutics, but also their presentation skills, so as to engage their audience more completely.

As for the tech team, we expect...{insert crickets sound effects here}. Well, what do we expect? Too often, we expect too little, even of ourselves. If you're a tech person reading this, what have you done in the last month to improve your ability to perform your task? Some might argue that it's difficult to "practice" the technical arts. To some extent I agree, you can't practice mixing if there's no one on stage. But how about coming out for rehearsal time and work up a mix, then play with some outboard gear? Or consider investing in virtual soundcheck so you have more opportunities to improve your chops. Lighting people can spend hours playing with different combinations of lights to see what effects they can come up with (I know, I've seen them do it at our church...).

How about continuing education? I'll talk on sound (because it's my passion) but the what I'm about to say carries over to every discipline. I've been doing sound and live production for over 20 years, yet almost every week (sometimes every day), I learn something new, or pick up on a new technique. How? Because I spend a few hours a week reading magazines and web sites devoted to sound and live production. Right now, I get 5 technical magazines (all free) delivered to my house each month. I've also taken on-line classes on sound engineering (all free). There are numerous classes and seminars you can attend that are not free, but very good.

When training is offered at your church, do you attend? Are you willing to show up when it's not your weekend to watch over the shoulder of someone else and maybe learn something? See, here's the thing: What we do is very difficult, and it's not for everyone. Making great sound in an imperfect room even with good equipment is every bit as difficult as playing piano. Creating compelling and effective lighting effects that enhance not interfere with worship is just has hard as singing a solo. So why would we think we can hop in there once a month (or once a week) and "just do it?"

I once had a conversation with a sound tech (a few churches back) about music. I had just finished running camera for a Christian music festival. I was listing off some of the bands we shot that week, the Newsboys, Third Day, Michael W. Smith. After each one, he said, "Hmm, not familiar with them..." Really? So what kind of music do you listen to? "I don't really listen to music much." And he was a sound tech!? Nope, that's not good folks.

Remember, we're serving the King here. He didn't skimp and give us seconds when he gave it all for us. How can we give our best to our earthly employers during the week, then come in and give leftovers to God? Call me a fanatic, but I don't think we can.