Last time, we talked about relationships. You’ve heard me say it before, but it’s all about relationships. Last week, I was at a conference helping to lead a class on music-tech team dynamics. The first question raised was about getting the tech team to be on time and ready for sound check. That got me thinking about ways the worship leader can help the technical group do a better job—which helps you do your job better. That means there really is some incentive for you to do this stuff.
Communicate. In advance.
Tech guys are usually planners. We like to know what is happening before it does. We like to know how many musicians are going to be on stage and what they will be playing. We like to know how many handheld and bodypack wireless mic’s we’ll need. And we like to know it before Sunday morning.
Years ago, I worked for a church that had Saturday rehearsal for a Saturday service. We really didn’t know until we showed up at 2:30 who would be on stage at 3:00 practicing for the 5:00 service. This created much stress. So I started asking the worship leaders for a band list on Wednesday. That way, I could think through how best to accommodate all the needs for the band in advance.
It took a while for them to get used to the idea of planning ahead, but once they saw the results—faster set up, quicker sound checks, smoother rehearsals, better services—they were all over it.
You’re probably doing this anyway with the musicians, so simply let the tech guys know. This is especially important for smaller churches that may be on the ragged edge of capacity for their systems. Having a few days to figure out how to get everyone in the board will make your tech’s—and thus your—lives easier.
Communicate. As a Team.
As I said, you’re probably already communicating with the musicians and singers throughout the week anyway. And if you’re not, you should; but that’s another post. Why not simply include the tech guys and gals in that email? Make sure they know what songs you’re doing and how you want to do it. That helps them prepare, and they may even have ideas that will make it better.
One worship leader of mine always sent out an email to the entire weekend team every Thursday. It was a short, simple email most weeks that included the theme for the weekend and some encouragement for being involved. It’s not a huge deal, but it helps everyone know—techs and musicians alike—that we’re all in this together.
Equip and resource the tech staff.
I hear from worship leaders often who are frustrated that their sound guys (for example) don’t do a great job. I always start by asking, “How do you train them? When was the last time you brought someone in to do some real training on mixing?” That’s when the line goes dead on the other end.
Look, the technical arts are hard. If it weren’t hard, everyone could do it. Most cannot, and even after someone knows what the compressor threshold does, learning how to use that properly takes years. You cannot expect pro-level results from volunteers who have never been properly trained.
Figure out how to get them some training and ways to practice their craft. This will cost money. Get over it.
If the team is working with outdated and severely compromised equipment, figure out how to get it serviced or replaced. As a worship leader, how long would you try to lead worship on a guitar that refused to stay in tune for more than one verse? How long would you lead from a piano that had 12 keys that only occasionally produced sound? I would guess a weekend. You would get it fixed or replaced because it’s important. Making your tech guys fight with equipment that only occasionally works will not help them help you.
This is not an exhaustive list, but if you start here, you’ll find your technical artists become more helpful and less grumpy. Next time, we’ll look at it from the other side of the booth.