With the rise of personal monitor mixers, the Sunday morning sound tech has had to worry less and less about the monitor mix for the musicians.
However, there are still a large number of churches which either do not have personal monitor mixers on stage. Or, only some musicians have personal mixers and some musicians like the vocalist still have their monitors controlled at front of house.
One very compelling reason to keep control of vocalist monitor mixes at the main mixing board is feedback.
With the potential for feedback, the front of house sound engineer/tech has a few options.
1. Control all monitors that have open mics near them.
2. Work with and educate the musicians on how to properly use a personal monitor mixer, and help them understand what causes feedback.
3. Put headphones on the musicians who have open mics in order to remove the potential feedback issue.
For the large number of churches who don’t have personal monitor systems, and for those (like me) who still control vocalist monitors from the front of house console, nothing can be more embarrassing and humiliating than having a musician ask for more in the middle of a worship service.
To help avoid this, I suggest working with the musicians to develop a simple set of signals to know when and how to adjust their monitors.
Giving credit where it is due, it was a worship leader who approached me years ago and explored setting up some signals. He had a great spirit about the situation, explaining that he understood that I couldn’t listen to monitors on stage to adjust level.
This worship leader added, however, that I didn’t know his mood or physical condition on any given morning, noting that when his allergies are bothering him, he not only needs more overall level, but just as important, he needs more piano to stay on pitch. He said that when he’s congested his own voice seems to “resonate” in his head, and when this happens, he can’t hear the piano as well.
So to help each other, we worked out signals.