As a musician who has worked and volunteered in churches as a keyboardist, guitarist, vocalist and sound engineer, I am very aware of the disconnect that always seems to surface between the band and the sound team.
It’s very disheartening to feel ineffective, misunderstood, or even ignored. Many times it falls on the shoulders of one individual to “translate” the ideas, words, and actions from one group to another. It can be very frustrating for everyone involved!
So how can we bridge the gap between the sound team and the worship team? How do we interact with each other in a way that doesn’t polarize people and helps everyone achieve their goals?
1) The Sound Team IS Part of the Worship Team
The most common mistake worship teams make is not viewing the ‘sound team” as part of the worship team.
This goes beyond just word semantics and targets the idea that the sound team, techs, and stage-hands are merely a technical function to make everything sound good instead of the sound team being an integral part of both the worship environment and the overall health of the worship team.
Both groups are contributing towards the same goal, and this should be made very clear to everyone involved. Despite not being on stage in front of the entire congregation, the sound team’s function is just as important to the success of the worship team.
Simple things such as the sound team being included in the worship team prayer sessions, or greeting and interacting with each other the same way you would your friends will help create a team environment.
The absolute best way to create a tighter community between the sound team and the worship team, is to learn everyone’s name, and call them by name. Taking time to acknowledge each other in a personable way breaks down so many barriers that could later hinder team cohesion and in turn, the team’s effectiveness.
2) EVERYONE Should Attend Rehearsal
One of the best ways to begin bridging the gap between the musicians and the sound team is to have everyone attend the rehearsals. Often, worship teams will use rehearsals as the time to hash out parts and learn the songs that will be played during services. Many times sound teams are left until soundcheck the morning or evening before a service to be introduced to the song set, transitions, and any other variables that come with that.
This leaves very little time for communication between the sound team and the musicians which can then lead to frustration between members as they try to sort everything out last minute.
Whether your musicians are staff or volunteer, it’s a great habit to get into constantly including all the musicians, vocalists, and sound team in the rehearsal. With the sound team actively involved during a rehearsal, many of the problems that would come up during soundcheck can be solved ahead of time.
Just like musicians, the sound team also needs time to prepare and customize everything for the musicians and vocalists that will be on the stage. This is especially important for worship teams that constantly rotate new members each week.
For the most part there isn’t enough time during a soundcheck to meet everyone’s needs, learn the team composition, troubleshoot problems, and get the mix sounding perfect without a huge amount of stress and with that, miscommunication.
3) Put Yourself in Their Shoes
A lot of the miscommunication between the musicians, vocalists and sound teams stem from a lack of knowledge and information in areas outside of their expertise.
For example: A vocalist might not understand the reason they are having feedback in their monitor is because they are holding the mic too far away from their face, which then causes the engineer to increase the mic gain so the vocalist can be heard.
Or similarly: The sound engineer might not understand that the lead guitarists amp needs to be at a certain level to achieve the desired tone. Instead of just lowering the volume of the amp, what it really needs is better isolation.
These are just two scenarios where a little extra knowledge on both sides could help the frustration of miscommunication. This is a great opportunity to share information and learn about different aspects of the worship team that you didn’t know before. It’s also important to explain these things in kind and educational way as opposed to a demeaning or “you should have known” way.
And this goes without saying, but each member of the team, instrumentalists, vocalists, engineers, and techs, should do their part to learn their instruments/roles inside and out so they can help each other understand the complexities of each instrument and part.
4) Ask Yourself, How Can I Best Serve My Team?
Coming into rehearsals or services with the main focus on how can I serve my team will set a perfect foundation for all interactions between team members.
A keyboardist who comes into a rehearsal with a positive attitude and is focused on creating a great experience for both the other musicians and the sound team will have a much easier time communicating than a keyboardist who is just there to play their part and go home.
This can also be summed up by trying our best to be humble in all of our interactions. Keeping the focus on serving one another helps to keep people from taking offense when receiving criticism.
For example: A sound engineer who tells the drummer that they are too loud might just be trying to get a balanced mix in the PA and not attacking that drummer’s play style or character. As long we stay humble, we can take criticism without feeling attacked or unappreciated.
5) Give Feedback
At the end of the day, despite our best efforts, things will still go wrong and miscommunication will happen. The best way to handle this is to give feedback at the ends of rehearsals and services.
“What went wrong” or “what went right?” are great starting points to open up the floor for people to voice their concerns and give feedback.
A bassist simply asking the sound team “what can I do to make your job easier” can make a world of a difference!
Without constant feedback, both negative and positive, it’s very difficult to grow as a team. Learning how to communicate in a way that others understand takes time and sharing feedback along the way is the only way to get there.
And while we’re on the topic of feedback, one of the most important things you can say to someone is that you genuinely appreciate them and the role they play in the worship team. Countless hours of work go into preparing for rehearsals and services and appreciating everyone for the work they the do helps create strong bonds between each other. Even a simple: “thanks for being here so early to run sound for us” can make someone’s day! Be appreciative of everyone and help them feel valued. Doing this will help set the table for future interactions and help bridge the gap between all members of the team.
You may also be interested in these posts!
- Replacing the Lies of the Enemy for a Life of Joy
- I’m a Worship Leader But Why?
- Activating Your Relationship with God: Practical Steps to Hearing His Voice
- 5 Keys to Spiritual Breakthrough
- How to Be Your Most Productive Self Through Rest [Podcast]