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Church Sound: Stage Preparation—The Three Key Areas Of Importance
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Wait! How do I find out the needs of these people? This happens in several ways. Regarding the musicians, contact the worship leader mid-week and ask them for a song list and the names of the people who will be in the band (and what they play or if they sing). If you have the same band members each week, ask if the line-up is changing. 

Regarding the pastor and others, it all depends on your church structure. For example, in a small church, it’s likely best that you directly ask the pastor if there is anything extra required. In a larger church, that might be the responsibility of the tech director or producer so you’d want to check with those people. The easiest way to remember all of this is to know that it’s your job to ask who, what, when, and where and then have the answers.

Place equipment in non-traffic areas. The pastor should be able to walk around the pulpit without worrying about tripping on cables or bumping into equipment. Just the same, even though the musicians have their spots, they also need to safely walk to and from those spots.

Only use equipment that works 100% of the time. This goes for cables, di boxes, amplifiers, and anything else on the stage that passes an audio or electrical signal. Not only can failure disrupt the service, but it could also cause physical harm or fire.

Regarding small stages, plan for pathways. It’s easy to eat up floor space with monitors and music stands. I’ve seen stages that only gave the pastor about a four-foot diameter around the pulpit. When planning the stage layout remember that people need to get on and off stage safely while also getting to their area on the stage.

Work with the worship team on eliminating extra equipment. There is very little extra equipment and it usually comes down to music stands and microphone stands. Find out if two singers are willing to share a music stand. Replace four single microphone music stands with a multi-mic stand like the Softpod Mic Holder.

Tie up loose cables. Any time you have cables on microphones stands, such as boom stands, use the small Velcro ties to secure them to the stand. This way, instead of the congregation seeing a mic stand and a dangling cable, they only see the mic stand.

The less you see the better. This goes along with the concept of safety. Use only the amount of cabling that’s required. This way, the congregation does see a lot of extra cabling coiled up on the stage. Look for what can be moved off-stage or to a less conspicuous area.

Take The Test
Look at the photo below. This is from a church service. Please note this photo was taken at a point in time so I don’t know what happened immediately before or after it was taken. 


However, this single point in time does make for the perfect image for asking this question; related to needs, safety, and aesthetics, what would you change on this church stage? (Photo credit: jakeliefer)

The Take Away
Stage preparation is an important part of your job. By meeting the needs of those involved with the church service, providing a safe area for leading the service, and providing a clean-looking area, you are presenting the front of the sanctuary as less of a stage and more of a chancel.

During the service, you are lifting up your production work as an offering to God. During the stage preparation, you are showing respect to the area in which it all occurs.

Ready to learn and laugh? Chris Huff writes about the world of church audio at Behind The Mixer. He covers everything from audio fundamentals to dealing with musicians, and can even tell you the signs the sound guy is having a mental breakdown. To view the original article and to make comments, go here.

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