Last week I posted with the title Keep It Shut!, which looked at keeping the main hall closed during soundcheck and rehearsals so that the congregation would not distract or comment while the band and Sunday team were refining the service. I realise that the title could be construed as referring to something other than just the doors…but for the sake of politeness, we’ll concentrate here on keeping the main hall closed during rehearsals…
We put it into practice this past Sunday at EBC; clear and courteous signs were placed on the closed doors with a specific opening time and a polite request for early arrivals to stay in the lobby or back rooms. Everybody adhered to it, and there were no quibbles or questions. Or attempts to break down the door.
Lock the door!
The most positive effect was in the band and tech team who were able to rehearse and sound check without distraction. We don’t hold rehearsals over the summer, so our current band time before the service is even more precious as it is the only opportunity to run through the song arrangements as well as soundcheck. My wife was leading this week, and I arrived later with the kids for the service. There was such a palpable difference on stage, the whole band were relaxed, more happy and freely leading and worshipping. The sound was noticeably better than the previous week, with a good balance between the instruments and voices, and a clear lead. The musicians were almost enjoying themselves! And all of this, just from keeping the doors closed for an extra 30 minutes or so.
I have subsequently contacted the relevant people to make this a permanent arrangement for our morning services, (one of the benefits of my role is that I can make decisions like this without several meetings with elders and planning teams…) as it is clear that it benefits all. Well, with the exception of the early arrivals waiting outside. But then, does anyone really need to be at church that early before the service? Cakes are only put our after the 10:15 service. And there are usually plenty.
Happy Band, Happy Man!
Now I’m aware I am possibly preaching to the converted. You probably do this already. If so, great. And drop me a line about some of the other things I need to know about! But, if this is a new concept to you, and you’ve had many months, maybe even years of an audience for your soundcheck and preparation time, I heartily encourage you to Keep It Shut before the service.
I had the privilege this week to do some more training with our sound team. We had already done some training focussing on the technical side (how to switch things on, how to plug things in, where everything goes etc), but this was a very different session. I wanted to concentrate on the actual sound which was being achieved through the system; having invested so much time with our band on arrangements and dynamics, I wanted to make sure this was actually being heard through the PA.
Training our sound team is something we do at least twice a year. Rehearsing and training with the worship team happens pretty much weekly. And annually we remind all our volunteers why and how we do what we do. Vision leaks. People have short memories. We often slip back into old habits, or positions of comfort…it’s a completely natural reaction. Which is why we need to regularly remind all of our staff and volunteers of our ethos.
Leaky Bucket Syndrome
It’s just like a leaky bucket…you fill it up with water, and it will hold the liquid…but slowly the holes allow it to drain away…sometimes gradually, sometimes quickly! So it needs topping up to keep it full. We are exactly the same. If we are regularly serving in areas like the band or tech team, we should keep ourselves “topped up” both spiritually and mentally. But still, the longer between training sessions, rehearsals and seminars, the more our vision leaks, and the more we revert to our old habits and what we are comfortable with.
So a regular top up for whatever team you are serving under keeps everyone focused, reminds everyone of the how and why, and should mean all are serving the same purpose. We as a team are reminded regularly of the ethos behind our worship and who we are there to serve. We use written training materials, I send email reminders, we’ve been to seminars and held training days. Everyone on the team has access to this, and to the notes which serve as reminders. And when we train the sound team, we make sure it is done in conjunction with the band to reinforce the team ethos and mentality. This has to be a practical event…the notes are great for reminding and helping with knowledge, but nothing beats the doing to help remember. When we held the sound training on Tuesday, I could have talked theory for hours, but it only makes sense when we actually start EQing the band, adjusting the volume levels and hearing the effect the adjustments made.
Keep Topping Up
Back to your bucket. You’ll never patch all of the holes. Your bucket will always leak…sometimes slowly, sometimes fast. But regular refilling and occasional top ups will keep your bucket full and working to capacity.
How do you fill your leaky bucket?