Study Hall

Supported By

Church Sound Basics: Mixing Beyond Your Bounds

One of the best ways to improve your mixing skills is to mix constantly stretch your abilities.

At best I can say that I am a hack golfer. When I used to play on a regular basis, breaking 50 on 9 holes caused me to break out in celebration.

Today if I get out to play more than once a year it’s a cause for celebration!

Over my career (okay that’s stretching the word) as a hack golfer I have picked up many analogies to the professional world.

One that has really stuck with me is the concept of playing along with those that are “out of my league”. I found that time and time again I would usually break 50 when the person I was golfing with broke 40. Additionally, I cannot ever remember breaking 50 and being the low score on a round.

For some reason, I seemed to rise and fall based on the players that I play with. Maybe that indicates I’m a follower rather than a leader.

I don’t think that was the case because by nature I am very competitive and like to take charge. Plus, when I played with others where neither one of us broke 50, I was usually the low score, because I hate to lose.

I believe the reason I played better when I was around “better golfers” was two-fold.
1) As I mentioned I am very competitive, just being around great players brings out that edge in me.

I want to at least be in “the game” and have at least one great shot, like the that very infrequent incredible approach shot that lands and rolls to within two inches of the cup. And then hear the other guys say “great shot”!

2) I don’t think it’s osmosis but as I watch the other players and see how they play. How they swing, how they approach a shot, what club they use and why they use it.

I pick up on these things. Particularly if I am consciously looking for ways that I can improve my game.

There’s a saying which we all toss around that also tends to be true, “everybody wants to be on a winning team”. It’s fun to be on a team that is an underdog or is in the processing of rebuilding, but it’s not fun to be on a team that is a consistent looser.

People who want to better themselves, grow and make a difference to those around them seem to automatically migrate to a team that is winning or has a great potential to become a winning team in the near future.

So my question to you is, are you playing out of your league? Are you often around those that are better than you and stretch you?

When you are around these people, do you study them? Do you ask them questions? Do you let them inspire you with their skill?

A second question: what are you doing to help the teams you “play on” win? Are you an encourager or a setter of examples?

Do you inspire those around you to become better?

When the rubber meets the road
Look for opportunities where you can play (if you are a musician) with or mix with (if you are a soundperson) people who are a league above you.

If you have a hard time finding somewhere that you can slip in, create the opportunity for yourself.

Read More
In The Studio: Instrument Roles & Creating Space

Ask (pay) a musician that is “out of your league” to join your worship team for a Sunday, study what they do and how they handle different situations.

Hire a person who consistently delivers a quality mix and shadow them, humbly doing whatever they ask you to do to help them.

Then, set an example and be an inspiration to the team around you. It’s actually really simple

1) Show up on time That means early enough to be ready to start at the predetermined time, not just walking in the door

2) Show up prepared Rehearse ahead of time, if you’re the sound guy listen to the arrangement of the songs ahead of time, know where the solo’s are, what instrument is featured, the overall sound and mix of the song.

3) Show a great attitude This should be obvious, but seems the easiest to miss. We get tired, distracted and sometimes just don’t feel like being there.

Your task is simple look for those that are a league above you and learn from them, let them stretch you and help your game grow. Also, encourage and set an example for those who are in your league, or want to be in your league.

Are you finding ways to improve your abilities? Let me know in the comments below!

Gary Zandstra is a professional AV systems integrator with Parkway Electric and has been involved with sound at his church for more than 25 years.

Supported By

Celebrating over 50 years of audio excellence worldwide, Audio-Technica is a leading innovator in transducer technology, renowned for the design and manufacture of microphones, wireless microphones, headphones, mixers, and electronics for the audio industry.

Church Audio Tech Training Available Through Church Sound University. Find Out More!