A basic knowledge of music is important for the sound system operator unless only speech is amplified. When running a sound system you should consider yourself the “mix musician”. You will be balancing the musicians against each other and determining how the congregation hears them. As such you are an important part of the musical group, and need to understand what is important for music to sound good.
This does not mean you have to be able to play an instrument or read music (although that could not hurt). It does mean you need to understand some musical concepts and be able to speak the language of music in order to properly communicate with the other musicians in your role as the mix musician.
It was quickly embraced by sound techs because not only could we now pick up the pastor’s voice clearly and consistently with minimum feedback problems, but finally – finally – we could get the big solo during the drama to sound good without the actor having to grab a handheld mic.
The good news is that the pastors who I’ve talked with who have embraced the earset mic tell me how wonderful the experience is for them, how they used to have to strain their voice each time they preached, and how the earset mic has spared their vocal cords.
Based on what we’re hearing (pun intended), the popularity of the earset microphone will simply continue. It genuinely solves a myriad of technical issues that church sound techs have been chasing for years. It gives us a clean pickup of the pastor’s voice, consistent sound character no matter how the talker moves their head, excellent gain-before-feedback, and it’s virtually invisible beyond about thirty feet from the platform. What’s not to like!?!
My personal recommendation is the Countryman E6. I’ve been using it for 6 years with great results. You can get it at Northern Sound for $276.24 right now.
Helpful article from Technologies for Worship Magazine…
If getting rid of ambient stage noise and raising the comfort level of the musicians is a goal your team is trying to achieve, then you are on the right path with considering IEMs.
The key to success is to know why you are transitioning to IEMs. In-ear monitors make it possible to lower, if not totally eliminate stage volume. This is a huge benefit in any worship setting, and can be crucial in a small church building. Plus, by using IEMs, musicians and vocalists can get a very accurate rendition of what they are doing, and therefore feel more comfortable.
As with anything else, there is a distinct learning curve involved, so the first lesson would be not to put yourself in a pressure-cooker situation where the products are bound to fail your expectations. For example, switching everyone from stage wedges to IEMs for the first time the day before Sunday service is not recommended.
Start with the kick drum. Generally, the kick will produce less volume than the other drums, and the dynamics of contemporary Christian music rely on a strong kick drum sound. Improving or amplifying the kick drum will produce the most immediate impact on the overall drum set sound for the audience. First, check to see if the kick drum has a front drumhead or not, and if it does, see if there a hole cut in the drumhead. This will determine how you can place the microphone. If there is a front head with no hole on the drum, place the kick drum microphone about 2” in front of the drum head, between the dead center of the drum, and the edge. Aim the microphone straight at the drumhead. If the sound is too “boomy” perhaps the drummer can place a blanket or some other form of muffling inside the drum to “deaden” the sound.
Worship musicians need to buy a lot of gear. Northern Sound & Light is the latest place I’ve used for cheap prices.
Sennheiser e835 mic:
- @Musiciansfriend.com = $99.99
- @Sweetwater.com = $99.97
- @NorthernSound.net = $80.70
Aviom A-16II Personal 16 channel mixer:
- @Musiciansfriend.com = $620.00
- @Sweetwater.com = $620.00
- @NorthernSound.net = $430.56
Tell ’em Clayton sent ya.
Communication is everything. And this is a valuable little tool that I use to communicate to our technical voluteers (audio, video, lighting operators) the flow of a service. This group of volunteers needs to be aware of every aspect of the service. They need as much information as possible in order to do their job the best they can.
Feel free to morph this document to your own needs. The first column allows you to list the elements of the worship order, including song titles, speakers, etc. The second column allows you to list directions specific to the video operator (Easy Worship, PowerPoint, MediaShout, etc.). You can put the order of song lyrics (vs1 ch vs2 ch br ch ch) as well as the title of videos to be played here. The third column is to give the audio person a heads up for each service element. You can list which channels on the mixer should be up, or even which vocalist or instrument should be mixed differently for each element. The fourth column is for lighting notes. The final column if for general comments and reminders.
I’ve been using this format for Sunday worship for several years now, and all the techs that have used it find it informative and easy to follow.
You may find a lot of your past mistakes are now being exposed with a click or that your harmony you always sing is actually flat now that you have some accompaniment in the loop. There is also risk of computer melt down, but that’s why we only recommend Macs here.
I have used a drum loop before in the song “All the Earth” by Charlie Hall. They are really easy to create in Garage Band – and then exported to iTunes and used in a playlist.
If you’ve got a couple of keyboards/synthesizers floating around your church, chances are one of them is a Kurzweil. The latest Rolling Stone (February 19, 2009) has an article about Ray Kurzweil – the guy who basically fathered everything we know about modern musical synthesizers. In the 1980s, Kurzweil used his knowledge of computer pattern recognition to create realistic orchestral instrument sounds on a keyboard (synthesizer).
What Ray Kurzweil is known for these days are his futurist theories. An excerpt (p. 57-58)…
In our lifetime, Kurzweil believes, machines will not only surpass humans in intelligence – they will irrevocably alter what it means to be human. Cell-size robots will zap disease from our blood stream. Super intelligent nanotechnology, operating on a molecular scale, will scrub pollution from our atmosphere. Our minds, our skills, our memories, our very consciousness will be backed up on computers – allowing us, in essence, to live forever, all our data saved by super-smart machines.
He also has developed a line of health supplement pills that he takes 150 of throughout the course of a day, intended to prolong his life “until we have the means to reverse-engineer the information processes underlying biology – giving us the power to ensure our immortality.” (p. 61)
I only bring this up (not to knock the man) to point out that some people believe immortality is possible apart from any traditional faith system.
Here is the deal about being a complete worship musician. It goes way beyond just music. It’s not enough to be just a great musician or singer and be a leader of worship in churches today. You have to know audio, video, lighting, photography, graphic design, web design, leadership, theology, finance, and the list goes on…. This blog is an attempt at filling in the gaps for worship leaders – things they didn’t teach you at worship leading school.
One resource you need to know is Technologies for Worship Magazine. This publication will keep you up to date on trends in the audio, video, lighting, and web world. The best part is that the subscription is free – check it here.
Last edition had a good article on the differences between PowerPoint and worship presentation software programs – check it here.