What is the reason of friction between sound and music team ? What shall be done ?

We have a congregation of around 400 + believers. I believe that it is the responsibility of a worship pastor / leader to take the congregation to the throne of God where He can meet His people. Its a huge responsibility and which is impossible to bare alone. In this era full of technology, we relay so much on that even to serve God. But what if the skilled people denies to render their support. 

I face a lot of problem with my sound team. Some times the cables are not working sometimes the stage is not ready, the sound check is not done the mix is not properly set, the list is on and on and on, which really put the music team for a toss. The efforts and the practices are in vain which has been put to have a better service. All the efforts of talks and relationship management has found no meaning.      Is it normal or something is seriously wrong ? Please through your inputs and share your experiences.



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Dear Greg,

Thank You for your suggestions.

I would like to answer some of the questions which you asked,

1. Checking cables every week - What I expect that the cables are available for us, an example, once for a practice session we wanted a mono cable to connect our keyboard, we had to wait almost 45 minutes to get one cable, we normally practice for 2 hours ( 120 mints - 45 mints = 75 mints ), we were left with only 75 minutes for practice. This not a one time story, its a normal phenomena.  We have a different set of cable for practice and when it doesn't work, we give it for repair to the tech team and we always are made to wait for more then what we can wait for the practice and live sessions, we get it at the last time say may be 10 or 15 minuets before any live program, which create a lot of panic and doesn't help us at all.  

2. Spare Cable available - Yes, it is available.

3. Musicians helping Sound tech team - We use to help them in their works but now we do not help them in setting up or setting off things because we are asked by the sound to do so, now we plug and unplug the instruments, monitors, cables etc. 


Some problems I have seen in the last few years:

The Worship leader leaves the final sound mix up to the mixing desk since they don't understand the technical side.

The Mixing desk mixes the sound as best as they can, with variable results, depending on the musical ability of the person at the desk.

One memorable Sunday, the backing singer that I stand next to was louder than everything else in the final mix.  Another Sunday, the piano will drown everything.  Some days you can hear drums, some you can't.  Some days the guitar is completely lost in the mix and I wonder why I even bothered to play.

The other problem I have seen with less experienced sound people is that they have left the preamp levels on the desk too high resulting in nasty distortion.  In one case it was my acoustic guitar.  In another service it was piano with distortion.

We have had a tendency to just plug in and play, and not to spend time getting the sound and input levels right first.

The other problem is that we have not had the tradition to really set up the levels correctly into the stage monitors before we get going.  I have tried to get this right when I am playing, but I make a right pain of myself in the process and have to stop the band and the worship leader several times to get it right.  The consequences of not doing this are not great - the weekend before last I was singing backing vocals but couldn't hear myself in the monitor despite asking a couple of times for an increased level.  On listening to the recording afterwards, I was singing out of key at points, which I hate, but I really couldn't hear myself very well.  I'm not the only singer in our church who has done this, and I'm sure the cause is insufficient monitor level for their own voice.

Unfortunately, in our case, the only solution is that the worship leader and the mixing desk operator need to work together and agree on what they are aiming for in sound, and the worship leader needs to make sure that band members are all happy with their setup before getting on with the rehearsal.  These things don't happen in our band and I have no clue what to do about it any more.

Too many indents to reply to some of the recent responses, so I'll start fresh:

Different churches have different "chains of command", or authority structure, or whatever you wish to call it.  

In some I've been in, the Sound Man was a separate entity, not appointed by anyone (he just happened to volunteer when they built the building, or first got a high-tech PA, or has inherited the position from a succession of Sound Men.  In such cases, they can be like little popes of the Mixer.  If you have their friendship, it can work well; if they don'[t think your ideas are worth considering, they will do whatever they wish.

In other churches, the Pastor or Board has supervision over the Sound Equipment and/or the Sound Man.  In still others, the whole thing is delegated to the Music Director, who is under supervision of the Pastor.

A few years ago, we had a Sound Man retire -- a good fellow, though a bit deaf, and with the new high-octane worship team was having some trouble.  The Pastor asked all people involved in any remote way with Sound (worship team, orchestra, young people interested in Sound, dreama, etc.) to meet in the Sanctuary.  He outlined the roles the tech team performs, congratulated current helpers and laid down the "pecking order", ("if this bothers you, see this person; if this breaks, see this person").

We had a shiny new in-training Sound Lady, who learned quickly from the polite, respectful musicians who worked with her to gain skill and quickness at her job.  I'm in a different church now, but recently visited, and she is still there after three years, doing wonderfully.

"Stage ready..."  Don't your musicians help set up and tear down?


Hi S,


In my short life, I've never seen a sound crew deliberately sabotage the musicians. Here's what I'm seeing/gathering from your descriptions:


1) The sound techs are given to sabotage evident because visiting acts sound great and you rarely do. If it's not sabotage, it's certainly passive-aggressive complacency.


2) You have gone to your leadership about this and they have told you they have confidence in the sound techs and don't want to fire them because no sound techs are worse than bad sound techs.


3) From these things, I also would assume you've had some heated conversations with the sound crew and it hasn't gone well.


4) You also said that you went to the leadership many times and they seem to not agree with you. It sounds like you asked if they could replace the sound team with your team! How insulting! You've implied that you know more than them and have never been in their shoes. No wonder they don't want your guys in there! You had to know that the conversations you had with your leadership have become known by them.


So now you have a couple of problems:


1) No one on the sound team will trust you now, you've gone to the leadership and complained about them.  It's the rare person who would.


2) The leadership doesn't trust you. This is evident from their unwillingness to go along with your suggestions. I wouldn't be to keen on someone complaining like that either - especially if the suggestion is to put your own people in there. That's very...worldly. 


3) Your leadership may have issues as well. I would have hoped that they would have kept your conversations confidential. But I do say they were right to turn down your suggestions.


I know it's good to pray about things and I always suggest that you do. But in this case, you've said many things and they tell me that you've handled this situation poorly and have made things worse. I don't know how it all started, but I suspect it started with small things and got bigger over time.  But you are here now, so how will you deal with it? You're stuck with the sound crew, but it's not so bad, you yourself have stated that they are capable at times. You're going to have to put yourself in their shoes and realize that it's not easy. It's a difficult and high pressure situation.


It will be difficult for you to fix this yourself since you're in such a bad position. Regaining trust is the main thing. It's actually better to find a wise and well-liked person in your congregation to fix this, someone very mature in the faith and very well respected. This person can be a bridge and a soul-doctor who can help smooth over people's attitudes and mistrust of each other. This is what you should pray for. (Among other things.)


Cheers and may God help you in this. It is His will for you and the sound crew to get along. Heck - get out there and play badminton or cricket together - get away from the church environment and do something together.




I think Stevo's given you a very sound word here -- there's a lot in here that a lot of us would do well to take to heart in our relationship with Sound People (and they are People before they are Techs).

Coordinating a Worship Team and a Mixing Console is kind of like when you put two guys in an elephant costume, and at first they go every which way, and practically tear the costume in half, but as they get to know each other very well they get the trunk swaying and the feet moving and everybody has a great time.

I own and recomend that you get the book "The Ultimate Church Sound Operator's Handbook". You will find some great information there.


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