“And Musicians, Love Your Sound Guys…”
I think Jesus would use this analogy if He were teaching today. You know, right along with the whole, “Husbands, love your wives, wives respect your husbands…” and then, “Musicians, love and respect your sound guys. Treat them as part of the team, and don’t talk bad about them behind their back. Be willing to work with them through it all, and always stick up for them when no one is there to defend them.”
This is definitely true of worship leaders. Sound, because it is the Devil’s tool, will inevitably go wrong at some point in our musical endeavors. This will most likely take place on Sunday morning after soundcheck and levels have been set. Something like a monitor exploding or losing all power to the stage or the drummer’s drum shield falling down or the soundboard’s gain exploding or starting clips of The Jesus Film during the set at full blast, or something worse… Like the next slide with the words to the song won’t be pushed fast enough and people will be stuck standing, mouths agape, with nowhere to go! No melody to release from their collective diaphragms! And it is the sound guy that will be blamed.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where people like to blame people for things. No one likes to take responsibility, which is a problem, but more than that, people like to put in their blame where they have no business putting in blame.
I had a friend tell me recently that they were sitting in church when their choir started to sing. The church didn’t have a live piano player for the choir, so they sing to backing tapes. The sound guys go to put in the tape and, what happens? Gasp. The wrong song begins to play. The choir director shakes his head at the sound board, and after a few more awkward moments, goes back to help the sound guys figure out the problem.
The problem was, though, that there were a few people in the pews that had, apparently, just had enough of the shenanigans. Outcries (loud enough for a few people sitting around- my friend included- to hear, but not loud enough to reach the ears of, say, the pastor or the sound guys) of, “Are you kidding me?” and, “Those idiots need to learn how to push a button!” etc. were coming from the mouths of a few members of the congregation.
All I have to say about that is my current experience with things. I’m a worship leader. Which means I’m usually on stage when I’m involved in a church service. Hardly ever do I find myself behind a mixing board or computer screen on a Sunday. However, I made it a point a long time ago to learn how to do all of those things. I know how to mix a band. I know how to run a slide show. I know how to cue a tape. And I understand how stressful it can be sometimes. I also understand that it is a job that is EXTREMELY taken for granted. Churches and worship teams that have a faithful sound guy who knows what he is doing are VERY lucky. I’ve been in places where I have not been so fortunate, and it is a travesty. Having sound guys who actually invest in what they do is another thing I can be thankful for. Faithfully serving to the best of your ability in what is most likely a volunteer position (and, already mentioned, a pretty thankless one) is an extraordinary act of servitude. I have a handful of people in mind as I write this, for whom I owe a lot of thanks to over the past few years. Even if my role was simply a participant in a service, knowing that these guys are on the job makes my heart rest easy.
So back to the hecklers (I’m thinking Muppets right now. Oh! Ho ho ho…). Yikes. Ahem. So. The hecklers. First, I say: don’t talk smack about someone running a soundboard unless you have done what they’re trying to do. It’s super hard sometimes!
Second, it’s one thing to say, “Eh, the band was a little too loud this morning.” or “I couldn’t really make out the words when Dave was singing.” (who can, really?), it’s quite another to talk about the individuals behind the board. They are people. They have feelings. And they can just as quickly NOT do what they are doing behind the board and leave it to be manned by someone like you. And if you are going to make CONSTRUCTIVE criticisms about the sound during a service, at least wait until the service is over and done with.
Thirdly, thank the guys once in a while. Regardless of the job they did. Tell them you’re glad they came, and you’re thankful for the time they put in to blessing the congregation each week.
Finally, next time you want to point out a mistake that you saw during the service, don’t. (This is one I struggle with. A lot. I’m constantly on my phone, tweeting about every little thing that bugs me during a given service. Someone brought it to my attention a few months back, and I have to really work on not doing that any more. Note the active “have to.” There’s a point there.) Being critical is easy. Holding your tongue is not.
Luckily, I never have to deal with such things in my church. Which, admittedly, is a lie, as you can tell by my confession in the previous paragraph.
(I haven’t quite figured out a cool “sign off” thing yet. Give me time)