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It’s Sunday morning rehearsal, time is strapped, and something goes wrong with the sound. It worked just fine last week, why is it not working now?

Christmas gifts for sound guy audio engineer

You frantically search for a solution but can’t seem to figure it out. Everyone is staring, waiting on you…the pressure is on.

Have you ever been in this situation? We all have. Becoming a good problem solver with church sound takes experience, but this post will give you a good head start.

Take time to think through the problem.

This may seem obvious, but when the pressure is on, we often jump into frantic action while forgetting the most important first step: take time to think through the problem.

At a recent funeral service I attended, a musician went to the stage to perform a special song. He began to play his acoustic and nothing was coming through the sound system. Then, he began to sing and still, nothing.

Half way through the song, the sound suddenly came on full-volume, startling everyone in the room. I imagine that something was muted, and when the sound tech finally realized it, he frantically unmuted without taking time to think through a better approach.

If the sound tech would have taken just a few minutes to think through the problem, I bet he would have first pulled the faders down, then unmuted, then slowly pulled the faders up to fix the problem without startling the congregation.

When problems arise, let your first step be to relax and put on your thinking cap. This one thing will save you from a load of embarrassment.

Follow the signal path.

When something is not working, one of the best ways to solve the problem is through process of elimination. Follow the signal all the way from one end to another.

Let’s say the bass guitar stops working (or has a slight buzz). Here are the steps to take next:

  1. Is it the guitar itself? Easiest way to test this is by plugging another instrument with the bass guitar’s instrument cable.
  2. Is it the cable? To test, try a different cable.
  3. Is it the direct box? To test, try a different direct box.
  4. Is it the stage snake? To test, try plugging into a different channel on the snake.
  5. Is it a setting on your mixer? To test, bypass everything (EQ, compression, etc) and make sure your gain is set properly.

These tests will take a few minutes to complete, but I bet you’ll find the issue. Otherwise, you are left with a guessing game, trying to fix the problem without first aiming at your target.

Choose the least distracting solution, even if it is to do nothing.

A few weeks ago, I was playing keys during an intimate prayer moment. Then, all of a sudden, my MacBook froze (which runs all of my keyboard sounds). I could have easily freaked out (and probably would have in the past) but instead just put my hands in my lap and bowed my head in an effort not to distract the congregation any more.

It’s these moments that you accept what happens and choose the least distracting solution, which will often be to do nothing at all.

Forgive yourself.

The more you problem solve, the better (and faster) you’ll get. So, quit giving yourself a hard time when you make the wrong choice or take forever to fix a problem. You’ll get better.

Seriously, stop beating yourself up. One of the best ways to learn is by making mistakes and then finding the solution. Never let failure define who you are, instead let it launch you into bigger and better things.

You might also enjoy: 5 Tips for Achieving Consistent Sound from Week-to-Week

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About the Author

Kade Young

Kade Young brought Collaborate Worship into existence with a dream of helping worship leaders around the world fulfill their calling with excellence. He has been leading worship since 2005, is a graduate of Rhema Bible Training College, and currently the worship leader at NoLimits Church in Owasso, Oklahoma.