Service days can be chaotic & inefficient soundchecks can definitely contribute to that chaos. Here’s how to keep your soundchecks effective!
1) Line Check Everything
It’s super important to start with line-checking everything and giving the sound engineer time to dial in each instrument for the day. That not only makes it sound great in the house, but it will also allow your monitor mix to sound and feel great too because the adjustments they’re making are more than likely affecting your monitors as well. Even if it’s the same musician and/or instrument from the week before, things can still change from week to week.
Line check on a song that you’re playing that week
The line check is not a signal check. The point of it is to start dialing in your sound for that set. So resist the urge to play Last Train Home, Driver’s License, or even a different favorite worship song and stick to something that you’re going to play during the set.
If possible, start adjusting your in-ears during line check
We’ll talk more about monitor mixes in a minute, but while we are on the topic of line checking take advantage of the downtime and start building your mix.
2) “Pass, Adjust, Repeat”
Now that your line check is over, it’s time to make sure everyone’s monitors are good. How you go about this is crucial.
Pick the most dynamic spot in the first song where everyone is playing and run it through 1 full pass (if that section is pretty short, double it) & stop. Give everyone some time to adjust their monitors, then do it again. I personally like doing this with only the band playing the first pass and then 2 more times with vocals added in.
The big key with this is – do not stop playing or singing until you are fully done running that section.
When you stop playing to adjust your mix, it interferes with everyone else’s ability to dial in their mix. So instead of stopping to make adjustments, take note of what needs to change and make it after that pass is done.
3) Pre-Run-through Meeting
Before you start playing through your songs, create space to talk through any unique arrangements you’re doing and how the transitions from each song into the next will work. Especially if your rehearsal happens on a separate day than service does. We aren’t robots, we forget things, and a quick little refresher is always so beneficial.
Leadership tip: if you’re having someone else welcoming everyone into the worship set or ending the worship set, give them a heads up before the day of. Public Speaking & looking like a ding dong while public speaking is still amongst the top fears that people have. Don’t unnecessarily induce a panic attack if you don’t have to.
4) The Run-through
Obviously, not every church goes about its service prep the same way. Some rehearse on a different day than their service. Others rehearse the day of, before service run-through. There are effective ways to go about rehearsals though and we’ve written an entire blog on the best ways to go about that!
Regardless of how you go about the rehearsal portion, I highly recommend creating time to run through all the songs and transitions at least once (preferably twice) BEFORE your official full-service run-through. If you don’t do a full-service run-through, I highly recommend you start one haha.
The key here is, run-through is not rehearsal and rehearsal is not run-through. Rehearsal is the time where you create space to address, speak up, and/or adjust whatever needs correcting.
Run-through is the time where you near flawlessly play through what your own preparation time and rehearsal have resulted in.
Both personally and as a leader take note of what run-through proves needed more preparation. Are you or another team member consistently not confident enough in the set and still figuring things out during run-through? Is the entire team unclear on how to play a certain last-minute added song or how to execute a specific transition?
What goes wrong proves what needs to be adjusted. The run-through is the great revealer of the quality of your preparation process both personally and collectively.
5) Hey Noodles, Stooooop Plaaaaaaaaayyyying!
We’ll make this short & sweet…
If it’s not your turn to line check… DO. NOT. PLAY.
If it’s a down moment between songs… DO. NOT. PLAY.
Unless it’s a part of the song that you’re supposed to be playing… DO. NOT. PLAY.
It’s annoying, it’s distracting, and it’s stealing time away from everything that’s going on pre-service.
For real though, if you are a worship pastor that wants to communicate that in a healthier, nicer way or simply you want to know the heart behind the statement, read it here.
6) “Is Everyone Good?”
Service days are typically loaded with quite a bit of stuff, have a lot of moving parts, and there are a lot of things to remember. So before you walk off stage, make sure your team feels all good to go for service. You’ll be surprised at how often people don’t speak up about the things they’re unclear about until they are asked.
7) Save Your Mix
Sound engineers, if your soundboard allows it, save the mix following run-through. Musicians, if you have a personal mixer, save your mix following the run-through. Just in case something goes awry, you’ll be able to quickly get back to where it was set in soundcheck.
8) Encourage the Team
If you’re leading the charge, speak some life and encouragement to your team. Thank them for serving. There are so many technical tasks that we need to get done on service days and it’s so easy to feel rushed and overwhelmed. I’m sure you’ve been there!
Rushing off stage as doors to the auditorium are being opened, taking care of a few last-minute things, and then rushing back out on stage. Even days without being rushed can feel stressful. This is why it’s so important to take the time to encourage your team.
Environments of affirmation and appreciation are so so life-giving & unifying.
While we’re on the topic of encouragement, I highly recommend taking time to gather your team together to pray & give them an encouraging charge right before you walk out on stage for the worship set.
Your worship team is a TEAM. Individuals uniting together to collectively lead the congregation in worship. Creating that space to pray together and give a charge is a POWERFUL way to unify and welcome the Lord to move through your team as a collective body.
And if you want to make it fun: throw in a little weekly hands-in-the-middle chant to top it off.
We also wrote a post about How to Run an Effective Worship Practice!
Click here to read that post. Thanks for reading our post on how to run an effective soundcheck. We know there are so many ways to make soundcheck efficient and would LOVE to hear the things you do to run effective and efficient soundchecks. Tell us in the comment section below.
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