In many churches, I know, we are lucky to even be able to even get ONE qualified person to run sound for each service without wearing them out. I want to start out by thanking the many sound engineers, including Rob and Bill at our church, who work so tirelessly and often so thanklessly despite constant pressure and criticism. THANK YOU!
We are working on introducing a new system, the buddy system, for our sound engineers though, and I’ll explain why. The main reason is that it is extremely hard to look down and twiddle knobs and troubleshoot one particular channel, honing your eyes and ears on that specific instrument or voice, and AT THE SAME TIME listen to the whole mix and keep your eyes on what is happening on the platform. For example, if you are tweaking the EQ on the kick drum, you might miss the worship leader pointing to the keyboard, indicating it’s a sudden keyboard instrumental part. Everyone in the congregation will probably see it, but you might be so focused like a laser beam on what you are doing that you miss it. So, what is the solution? The Buddy System – with a Producer to help you!
Now, I am not some genius who came up with this on my own. Look at every tv show, album, movie, … and notice that there is an “engineered by ….” AND a “produced by …” At a recent Worship Leader network meeting addressing ways that church tech teams and music teams can work better together, Dave Dartnall pointed this very idea out.
So, the role of the “Producer” is to keep an eye and an ear out for the whole, to watch for the electric guitar solos, to notice when something is out of balance , to assist and give feedback and help to the engineer who can then make the magic happen.
This has tons of advantages, including helping us to tap into what are often two separate skill sets. Some people are really good at dealing with equipment and very focused on tasks. Track down buzz? Sweet! Unplug all the wires from the back of the console, clean them up and put them back together neatly? Yes! Sounds like fun. Read the manual? Of course! Seriously. Some people are really wired like this.
Some people are more wired to be with people. Talk to an artist about his feelings? Make them comfortable and happy, putting them in the right mood so they can function at their fullest capacity? Consider whether or not this song is more of a “blue” song than a “red” song. If this song were a dessert, what would it be? Chocolate or Vanilla? Seriously, again, some people really do think in these kind of touchy feely, artistic ways.
Some people are more than happy and comfortable in both worlds, but those are a little more rare. Regardless, though, if you can pair up a couple of people and let them each focus on one of these two elements: the artistic (producer) and the technical (the engineer) … then the results are most likely to be even better than you would get with just one person trying to do both.
A producer is likely to say “Can we make the acoustic guitar sound a little more like warm butter?” and the engineer needs to learn to understand that as “can we re EQ the guitar and bring out the low-mids, maybe 600 Hz or so?”
So, there you have it team. That is the plan! May our team work better and better together, learning to hone our craft so we can serve God and our congregations well!
Is this how you have the team set up at your church? How does your system work?
Let me know! (comment below)
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