9 Hacks to Build Your Audio Skill

6. Put your phone down.

PUT IT DOWN! Now step away. Farther. Farther. That’s it.

It’s easy to grab your phone and text a friend or check Facebook or Twitter while you’re waiting for the band to set up. Don’t do it. Take that time to check in with the musicians. “How’ve you been?” “Can I help with anything?” This goes to building that teamwork mentality and camaraderie. I have musicians and worship leaders who ask me for honest feedback. They do so because they trust my work and we have a good relationship.

Phones are also time-sucks. For example, I’ll be at church tonight for the band’s practice and once I mix each song, I could surf the net on my iPhone OR I could work on improving an instrument mix or experiment with different effects. Which will make be into a better audio tech?

7. List it.

Any time you’re learning a new process or trying to streamline a process, such as the soundcheck, compile an ordered list of what needs to be done. Be as specific or general as needed—whatever works for you.

Update the list as you improve it. For example, let’s say you have a list of all stage work to complete before the band arrives and it works, but you find yourself running all over the stage and back and forth to the sound booth and equipment storage area. Group items from the list so you minimize those back and forth trips.

8. Record the settings.

I’ve learned this one the hard way. If you’re experimenting with equipment that normally has fixed settings (“we usually keep them like this”) then record those settings. Now you can experiment all you want and have a place to fall back.

It also helps in case someone changes settings and something stops working. I had this happen. I don’t know if a button was accidentally bumped, a kid snuck into the booth or the equipment reset itself … but it happened.

9. Make a decision.

Your skills and abilities as a church audio tech are dependent on one thing; YOU. I’ve seen techs with “years of experience” that could only handle the basics of mixing. I’ve seen techs with “months of experience” who accelerated past the fundamentals and were mixing some outstanding stuff. Each made a decision; one that knowing a little was enough and one that understood learning audio production is an everyday event.

Don’t “go with the flow” this year—decide to become a better church audio tech and take the steps to do so.