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Church Sound: Plan For Failure To Achieve Success

The best way to grow as individuals and technicians is through trial and error

By Mike Sokol December 16, 2015

Provided by Live Sound Advice.

I often hear stories about church leaders who won’t let the sound team “turn any knobs” on the mixing console.

The leaders expect a great music mix to happen every week simply because it previously sounded great one time. Or perhaps there was one lucky service where none of the mics had any feedback.

The assumption is that if there were no problems last week, there shouldn’t be any problems this week as long as the sound team doesn’t turn any knobs or push any buttons.

I’ve also heard stories about sound-system installers who “set the board once” and tell the sound team they’re only allowed to move the faders but not to touch any of the “special knobs” on the top half of the mixer.

You know the knobs I’m talking about: those mysterious EQ and AUX controls that if turned incorrectly can cause all sorts of feedback and assorted sonic mischief.

But I’m here to tell you that to make a great mix and to turn yourself into a great mixer you need a few failures.

Failures are good for you and as I often tell my teenage boys, you learn way more from failure than you do from success.

How so? Let me illustrate with a few personal examples.

Robot City
When I started my first real job as a robotics designer I held the dubious position of being the youngest design engineer in the history of the company.

I was fresh out of school and had already been designing my own gadgets from mini-bikes to rockets from the time I was ten years old.

And while I entered the job with a great deal of confidence, I was soon in over my head. Because instead of just building a wacky gadget for myself in my basement, now I was doing it with someone else’s money.

And it was not only the money; I had a team of mechanics and electricians who would build anything I drew up on a blueprint. This was both a dream come true and the biggest terror of my design life.

What if I designed something that was a failure? Then everyone would know that I had made a mistake. Would I lose my job if I failed at a design? Talk about second guessing myself….

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About Mike

Mike Sokol
Mike Sokol

Lead Instructor, Live Sound Co
Mike is the lead instructor for Live Sound Co, an AV integration and installation company in western Maryland, and lead writer of the Live Sound Advice blog. He’s also a veteran audio educator as well as an adjunct professor at Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester, VA. Visit for Mike’s educational articles and videos.


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