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Further Defining The Role Of The Church Sound Operator

Going beyond the technical aspects...

By Gary Zandstra November 28, 2016

This article is provided by Gary Zandstra.com.

 
What is the role of the church sound operator?

One aspect of it is bringing together all of the various inputs from musicians and blending them together in a pleasing way. 

We use a variety of technical tools to do this. The skilled operator not only knows how to properly operate these tools, but combines that knowledge with a variety of other skills, such as listening and musical understanding.

Often the operator is dealing with numerous additional responsibilities as well:

—House and monitor system setup and testing
—House mix engineer
—Monitor mix engineer
—Recording engineer

All of these roles are important, and are involved enough that each should be filled by an additional audio person – in a perfect world, that is.

Now, as if this is not enough, I want to suggest yet another, additional role that’s imperative for the church sound operator to perform: chief cheerleader and encourager.

On numerous occasions, my friend Trevor (who mixes a couple of Sundays a month) and I have discussed the importance of our attitude, and just as significantly, the demeanor we exude from the sound booth.

Trevor and I always have a great time together, so there’s usually a lot of joking around and laughter going on as we do our work. During one of these times, it occurred to me that the more confident we were in our mix, the more fun we would have It also seemed that the more fun we were having was usually matched with more fun coming from the musicians on stage. 

It’s what has led me to add cheerleader and encourager to our list of duties. Playing this role well goes beyond being confident, pleasant and sharing/spreading good cheer. For example, during a rehearsal the worship leader might ask, “How does it sound out there?” Rather than just saying “great,” Trevor seeks to provide specific affirmation: “The acoustic guitar sounds fantastic” or “Your vocals are really jumping out of the mix today.”

This affirmation bolsters the band’s confidence in its abilities. Further, the worship leader knows that Trevor is tuned in and listening critically to the mix. And the acoustic player (and for that matter, the rest of the band) is comforted in knowing that Trevor is not only hearing the “big picture,” he’s also hearing the details of the music and mix.

Final note: Trevor and I are both sincere in our affirmations and laughter – we’re not faking it or thinking we can manipulate the band and/or worship leader. We’re seeking genuine fun in our own work and in our dealings with each other, and then spreading that fun to others in a specific, productive manner. And it’s made a huge difference.

Gary Zandstra has worked in church production and as an AV systems integrator for more than 35 years. He’s also contributed numerous articles to ProSoundWeb over the past decade.


About Gary

Gary Zandstra
Gary Zandstra

Consultant, Dan Vos Construction, Writer for Worship Facilities and ProSoundWeb
   
Gary Zandstra has worked in church production and as an AV systems integrator for more than 35 years. He’s also contributed numerous articles to ProSoundWeb over the past decade.
http://garyzandstra.com

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