You should never become stagnant in the gifts you have been given. You should always continue to look for ways to grow and get better. It can be easy to grow stagnant after a lot of progress, and it is for this reason that we need to set goals. It can sometimes be hard to quantify and see goals come to fruition, so it will help to be as specific as possible when thinking through them. The following points should help you to accomplish your goals and move forward in your abilities.
Have A Mentor
Remember in the first lesson of this series where it talked about having a mentor? Well, it is included in this lesson too because it is so vitally important to your growth. Hopefully you have had a mentor while you have gone through this training, but if you haven’t, it is definitely time to find one. Look for a mentor that has been successfully running sound longer than you have. Some mentors may have 30 years of experience on you and some may have a month. The reality is that they just need to be one step ahead. As you begin to get into the technical side of how to run sound, you will want a mentor. This person will help you grow the right way, as well as give them an opportunity to grow through teaching.
Subscribe to YouTube Sound Tech Playlists
YouTube is one of the greatest resources to learn from. There are many free videos available on for those desiring to become better at sound engineering. “The Recording Revolution” is a great channel to start with. Although our emphasis is on running sound at church and not recording songs, this playlist will give you tons of great information about sound in general and how you might be able to apply it in a church setting. Of course, this is just a starting point. There are plenty of other great resources out there as well. Check out this playlist to get started.
Listen, Listen, Listen
As we talked about in lesson #2, it is vitally important that the sound engineer listens to the songs that their band will be playing, but the listening shouldn’t stop there. Whenever you are listening to music, try to pick out and identify how things are being mixed. This practice will be especially helpful when you are starting out, but it will also help you continue grow the more you do it. To do this, we need to look at the difference between casually listening to music and intentionally listening to music. Casually listening to music means that as the music is on, you are not really paying attention to how the music sounds or what it is doing. Intentionally listening to music means that you focus on what the music is doing technically. As you intentionally listen, here are a few questions you can ask yourself:
- What instruments can I hear?
- Where is each instrument sitting in the mix spatially?
- What is the most prominent or loudest thing that I can hear?
- Do the dynamics stay at the same level the whole song? Are there solos or instrumentals?
- Is this a live recording or a studio?
- How does this recording compare to others I have listened to? What are some similarities and differences?
These are just a few questions to get you started in this process. Along with listening through headphones at home, try to go to some concerts or other worship services to listen for how they are mixing the sound, and ask yourself these same questions. The more variety you can get, the better. The more you listen and ask questions, the better you will get at identifying the right questions to ask and answering those questions. Take what you have learned from these experiences and apply it to how you mix.
When you reach a certain skill level, it can be easy to feel like you have arrived. If you get to this point as a sound engineer, which you will, you need to sit down and evaluate what ways you can push yourself to get better. For instance, maybe you know just about everything there is to the technical side of running sound, but you are lacking in the relational aspect of being in sound ministry. Push yourself to be more relationally intentional with your leader, team, or others in the church. On the other side, maybe you do a great job of talking with people and having good relationships, but could grow your ability to run the soundboard and understand the technical side of things. Push yourself to figure out more things the board can do and how you can apply them when mixing. Continually look for areas that you can grow in.
Helping someone learn how to do something is the ultimate sign of true growth and maturity as a Christian. Just as you have been helped along by a mentor, you want to look for opportunities to help others in learning how to thrive in sound ministry. Just as your mentor took you through this training series and helped you grow, you can do the same thing with the person that you mentor. Even though you will be teaching that person how to do sound, it will help you learn just as much, if not more. Don’t be intimidated to go out and help someone learn.
- Name something that you are good at. How long have you been doing this? What have you done to get better?
- Have you had a mentor through this process? How has this helped you grow? If you haven’t had a mentor, why might would it be helpful to have one?
- What are some free resources available to help you learn more about sound engineering?
- When music is playing around you, are you usually casually listening or are you intentionally listening? Describe the difference between the two.
- Describe a time in your life where you had to push yourself to grow and get better at something. Why did you push yourself to get better and what steps did you take to grow?
- How long do you think someone needs to do something before they can teach that to someone else? Explain.
- TAKEAWAY: Set goals of how you want to grow in your gift of running sound.