Last week I had the privilege of watching the free church production training put on at the Worship Summit Live conference sponsored by PTZ Optics. Their first session was audio training for churches. The first featured guest speaker was Dr. Barry Hill. Dr. Hill is the author of “Mixing for God” (see on Amazon) and the director of the Audio & Music Production Degree Program at the Lebanon Valley College of Pennsylvania. Dr. Hill spoke on the subject of church audio training.
Dr. Hill was very informative and taught this old rock n roller a few new things especially when talking about digital mixers and church audio training. Dr. Hill is not just a professor but a practitioner at his local church where he plays keyboards and manages the church sound training for volunteers.
Here is the free church audio training video that was presented at the conference.
Church Sound Training Seminar
Developing A Mental Model
Dr. Hill talks about how sound professionals look at a soundboard differently than volunteers. Professionals see processes and volunteers see a whole lot of knobs. He goes into how to show your volunteers how to think when they look at the soundboard. Especially where it relates to signal flow and how the signal flows through the mixing console.
Knowing The Components Of A Sound System
Dr. Hill talks about making a diagram of your sound system. From the point of origin of the signal to the final destination of the speakers. How each part hooks together and how it runs through the mixing console whether or not it is an analog mixer or a digital mixer.
He goes through the difficulties some volunteers have with understanding the signal processing in digital mixers and why he chose a Yamaha T5 for his church.
He later talks about why it is important to label everything in your sound system and where it connects to. He recommends the same for your computer systems and visual components of your worship experience.
Your volunteers need this information because if they do not know how everything hooks together and how the signal flows, then when something is not working, they will not know where to look to find the problem.
Knowing The Tools Of Your Sound System
Dr. Hill talks about the different tools your sound system can use to make your sound the best it can be. He talks about equalizers, compressors, and reverb units.
He goes into specific detail on how to set up each unit and what to watch out for so that you use the tools to their greatest ability.
He then goes on to explain the use of signal levels and how those levels affect other parts of the system. What I found interesting is that if you use the mic preamp to adjust volume, you not only adjust house volume but you also adjust the monitor volume, so if not done properly, you will mess up the monitor levels for your musicians. He talks about your faders and how they will affect the entire sound. For some, this may be basic knowledge but for a volunteer this is crucial.
Setting Your Stage Volume
One of the things I learned was some great ideas on the drum shield and placing an insulated drum mat (see on Amazon) underneath the drums to help keep the boom down to a bare minimum.
Church Audio Essentials And Tips
Finally, Dr. Hill finished with some church sound tips and things to help in church audio training for your volunteers to competently run your church sound system. He talked about…
- Teaching them to pay attention to detail. What to pay attention for.
- How to teach them what is good sound quality.
- How to keep things consistent.
- How to know if somebody is willing to learn or they think they know everything.
- How to train non-musicians how to listen to music like a sound engineer listens.
Final Thoughts On This Church Sound System Training Seminar
This session of the Worship Live Summit was excellent. I have been playing music since 1976 and still I learned some things I didn’t know. If you or your church volunteers are new to mixing sound for a church service, I highly recommend taking the hour or so it takes to watch the video and I suggest you get Dr. Barry Hill’s book Mixing For God at Amazon.
This article originally appeared here, and is used by permission.