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Church Sound: How To Plan For The Worship Band

Use these three tasks above for planning for what is known, and then plan for last-minute surprises

By Chris Huff September 10, 2012

This article is provided by Behind The Mixer.


On one side of the chessboard was World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov.

On the other side of the board was the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue.

It was 1996. 

Six games of chess were to be played.

Which one would prevail?

Chess players know success comes from the ability to think several moves ahead. A rookie might say, “If I move my rook to that spot then the bishop can take me so I won’t move there.”

The good chess players can look at the same situation and think “if I move my rook to that spot then the bishop can take me and then I can move my knight to this other position and when my opponent predictably moves their queen in response, I can checkmate the king.”

Two completely different outcomes to the same situation.

Before I get into planning for the band, you should know that Garry Kasparov won the six-game challenge 4 games to 2. He was asked, after the game, how many moves ahead he can think. He replied that it depended on the positions of the pieces.

“Normally, I would calculate three to five moves,” he said. “You don’t need more…. But I can go much deeper if it is required. [12-14 moves].”

Planning For The Worship Band

The same way a chess master plans ahead, you need to plan ahead for the needs of your worship team. You need to plan for;

—Size of the band. You need to figure out how everyone can best fit on the stage. As musicians, they will usually know their standard stage setup.

However, you need to have a plan if they show up with an extra vocalist or extra guitarist. Where will you place that person on the stage? Is there room or do you need to move the other band members around?

—Needs of the band. When you know the size of the band, you then need to determine their needs. For example, you need to know how many people will be singing. This may or may not include musicians like the guitarist or the drummer.

You need to know all the instruments because you need to know how you’ll need to connect them to the stage.

—Song choice. You can’t get a great mix when you don’t know what the song is supposed to sound like. Some of this information you can get from talking the worship leader.

You need to make a plan for your mix.

—Song arrangement. Much of this you can determine during a full-length sound check. But if you don’t have that full sound check, you need to find another method. Song arrangement challenges start when the lead singer changes.

You need to know which vocal channel needs to be sitting on top for each song.

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About Chris

Chris Huff
Chris Huff

Chris Huff is a long-time practitioner of church sound and writes at Behind The Mixer, covering topics ranging from audio fundamentals to dealing with musicians – and everything in between.


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