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Church Sound: Twelve Steps To Christmas Program Survival

Critical tips to keep in mind as we wade into the most hectic season of the year...

By Gary Zandstra December 5, 2013

‘Tis the season … In honor of the classic holiday song “12 Days of Christmas,” if you’re in the midst of Christmas programs right now, please take advantage of at least some of the tips offered in the following “12 steps” survival guide.

12: Start organized with a plan

You know the saying, fail to plan and you can plan on failing. Guess what, it’s true. Talent will only carry you so far. 

The really great musician, technicians and artists know how to make things happen. Whether it’s a written plan (which I recommend) or just a mental plan you’ve thought through in advance, the process of planning can make all the difference is both the success of the event and your own sanity.

11: Check your gear to make sure it’s all in working order

This goes with planning. There’s nothing more frustrating than pulling a bad mic cable, or using a broken mic that hasn’t worked for six months, or suddenly needing an extra console channel only to find that the only one left doesn’t work.

10: Work ahead, work the plan

Think ahead and do the tasks ahead of time that you can. For instance, checking gear two weeks in advance leaves ample time to get items repaired or replaced.

9: Identify what’s really important and focus on those things

Don’t get caught up focusing on that “cool effect” you want for one song and miss the more important stuff, like doing a line check before the band shows up! 

A couple of years ago, this one almost got me, but fortunately sanity prevailed and I gave up on the “really cool” edge-blended video screen backdrop that captured way too much of my attention for a few days. 

I was ignoring the truly important things, like making sure the main P.A. was in top shape and getting the lighting cues recorded, aspects that are much more important and ultimately led to a successful program.

In the end, nobody but me (and my tireless volunteer Wayne) even knew we weren’t deploying the super-cool video thing.

8: Invest in those around you

Tech folks and musicians can get so focused on the tasks at hand that we tend to forget about those around us. Instead, use this time to let some of the less experienced folks shadow you. Teach them by showing what you’re doing and explaining why.

And it never hurts to bring chocolate…

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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.


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