Tech and talent combined can lead to an explosive situation. Learning what each side needs to bring to a production can help the whole team make beautiful music.
I recently published an article with the title “What does a Worship Leader REALLY want in a sound person?”
In the article I pointed out that Attentiveness and Attitude were the traits in techs that worship leaders desired the most.
I received statements and requests related to what a sound tech wants out of a worship leader.
There were jokes about things like more talent on the stage and less demands for more of the worship leader in the monitor, but what I gathered out the comments and my own experience led me to the following qualities that us sound people desire in a worship leader.
Before we dive in let me state that just as a worship leader expects the sound person to know the gear. The sound person expects that the worship leader has talent and knows how to bring a team of quality musicians together.
So with the expectations out of the way, what is it that a sound person REALLY wants from a worship leader?
First and foremost, every sound person I know desires RESPECT from the worship leader.
This should be a given and respect should be a two way street. In a healthy relationship both the worship leader and the sound person will respect each other.
Nothing is worse for a sound person than being humiliated in front of the band or worse yet in front of the congregation.
A friend recently told me about and event he was a guest at many years ago.
The event was a private concert with Bon Jovi (okay he is not a worship leader but stick with me). There were less than 1000 people in attendance at the club and my friend was lucky enough to be invited in by the front of house engineer. He actually was able to sit at front of house and enjoy the show.
During the first song he noticed that there seemed to be a few missing lighting cues. As he looked over to the lighting desk he saw the lighting director (LD) flirting with a girl. Obviously this was distracting the LD as he kept missing cues.
After about four songs Bon Jovi made a statement between songs to the thoroughly jazzed and engaged crowd. He said something to the effect that their normal lighting guy must have had the night off and he apologized to the crowd, then saying that this current lighting guy, who he thought was a fill-in, would be fired.
My friend inquired to the whereabouts of the regular LD.
The front of house guy responded, “Oh, that is the regular LD, or at least it was.” Now the LD was obviously shirking his duties, but I am sure the public rebuking was biting and hurtful.
A recent example of this was when Presidential candidate, Donald Trump, cursed out and threatened not to pay for the sound system during a rally (WARNING: Video contains offensive language). Now in both of these cases, the operators had failed but the failure could have been dealt with in a less public, and most likely more productive fashion.
I personally worked an event where the worship leader stepped side-stage, between sets, and expressed his displeasure of what was going on sound wise. He asked that the producer of the event fix it. The producer, who happened to be an audio guy, handed over his production responsibilities to the assistant producer and went out to front of house.
At front of house he was able to coach and help a fairly green sound person who had gotten in over his head. The producer finished out the show coaching and co-mixing with the tech. It ended well and most importantly is was handled very respectfully on all counts.
Now if the front of house guy couldn’t pull it together, I am sure the producer would have had him step aside and would have taken over. I am certain it would have been done professionally and with dignity.
Respect also means not talking bad or complaining about someone behind their back as well. I too often end up in situations where the worship leader or the sound guy will say disparaging things about the other people on the tech or worship team.
A second thing that sound people want out a worship leader is ORGANIZATION.
In general most sound guys are a bit nerdy and love structure and organization. Nothing drives a nerd personality more nuts than chaos. Rehearsals should be orderly, musicians should show up prepared, there should be a worship order and sequence that is followed and most importantly everyone should show up and be ready at the slated time and the rehearsal should also conclude at a scheduled time.
Really this relates back to respect. Respecting everyone’s time and effort that is being put into making worship happen weekly.
The third thing that a sound person wants from a worship leader is INCLUSION.
The sound person is part of the worship team. Make him or her feel that way. Include them in the group, involve them in prayer times. A worship leader should make the effort during rehearsal to go out to the booth area and listen to the mix. After listening appropriate praise and critique should be given.
I heard the story about a worship leader that decided to honor his tech crew and privately asked the musicians to show up 2 hours before rehearsal. The musicians put all of the instrumentation, monitors and mics in place (as best they could). When the tech team showed up an hour ahead of time to set up they were greeted with a stage that was 80 percent set up and ready to go. They were also surprised with hot pizza and some cake to top it off.
I am sure they felt blessed and included by knowing that musicians recognized they extra work that the techs did each week to set up.
If you are around me for any amount of time you will often hear me talk about TnT (Tech and Talent) and how explosive it can be.
When a worship leader respects the techs, is organized (i.e. shows up on time) and includes them as part of the team some beautiful fireworks take place!