The Sound Man Is Your Friend
Between 1455 and 1487 there was a civil war that plagued the land of England. Historically known as the “Wars of the Roses”, two royal households from the same lineage fought as bitter enemies for more than 30 years! The house of Lancaster (whose family banner sported a red rose) and the house of York (whose family banner sported a white rose) brutally battled one another for the undisputed claim to the throne. Ultimately, the house of Lancaster won the war, but then the king married Elizabeth from the house of York, thereby uniting the two families back to one.
What a pointless battle!
Too many times I have seen this same “War of the Roses” play out in a church Worship Team setting. Often there is a battle between the house of Worship Leader and the house of Audio Department for the undisputed claim to the throne! This is a pointless battle!
Worship Leaders, I have important information for you. Please read carefully.
The Sound Man is your friend. When I travel around training Worship Teams, this is a phrase that I often have the Worship Team memorize and repeat: “The Sound Man is my friend.”
You are on the same team! We don’t always think of the Sound Man (or Sound Woman) as being a part of the Worship Team, but they are! In fact, they are an extremely important part of the Worship Team. Like the houses of Lancaster and York, we can easily slip into a pointless power struggle. Maybe the Sound Man is secretly turning things down in the stage monitors so that he can provide a better Front Of House mix, or maybe the electric guitar player is covertly boosting the volume of his amplifier on the stage. This unhealthy and unhelpful mix battle never ends well. The Sound Man is your friend. You should be working together to create a stage volume and Front Of House volume that serves the congregation as well as the Worship Team.
The Sound Man can make you or break you. As a Worship Leader, you could be standing in front of the congregation making the most spiritually enlightened point on this side of eternity, but if your mic is muted then no one will hear it. You could be singing notes that compel even the angels of heaven to sing along, but if your vocal is buried in the mix (or if it is way too loud), then your melodious invitation to make much of God will be missed. On the flip side, if you accidentally put your capo on the wrong fret, or if the keyboard is transposed into the wrong key, a quick-witted Sound Man has the ability to heroically save the day with a single fader! The reality is that the Sound Man has the ability to enhance the mix, to fix the mix, or to destroy the mix. It is far better to befriend someone with this much power than it is to merely hope he is on your side.
The Sound Man has a thankless job. He already knows that. The congregation typically only notices the Sound Man when something goes terribly wrong! (Ironically, in times of sonic disaster, he will probably be blamed whether it was his fault or yours.) When everything is going well, probably no one will realize or acknowledge how much he contributed to the success of the service.
The Sound Man could use your help! Believe it or not, your Sound Man likely wants to serve you well. While it is ultimately his hands on the board, he would probably respond well to hearing you express how you would like for different aspects of the music to sound. If there is a specific guitar part that you would like to have louder, let him know. If there is a specific effect that you would like for him to use at a specific moment in the song, let him know. You can accomplish much more musically by working together than you ever could on your own.
So please remember, the Sound Man is your friend!
Artwork provided by my good friend, Brooke Gehman, an authentic and wonderful man of God, devoted follower of Christ, and an amazing husband and father. Brooke is a gifted Worship Leader, an incredible artist, and a Potter by trade (check out his website).