Rehearsals: The View From This Side
At COTM we put a lot of stock in our rehearsals and rehearsal process. As this has developed over the years, the role of the audio engineer has become fairly important—much more than just the one pushing some faders.
In most cases there is usually someone (or several someones) out in the seats producing the rehearsal—making sure the song, feel, and overall set is coming together the way the creative team has mapped out.
In addition to pulling together the audio mix, I have a responsibility to share my opinion on what is being created. Friends, this is a big deal and perhaps a good time for a reminder of one important responsibility of the audio engineer: good or bad, young or old, the audio engineer is the last person to touch the contents of whatever is coming from the stage before it gets to the people in the seats. Consider the audio engineer a funnel or sieve that all the creativity, discussions, prep time, performance, work, and emotions must pour through in order to morph into a solid message with impact. Yep, kind of a big deal. I’ve not run across a successful audio engineer who doesn’t feel the weight of this responsibility when they are working at their craft.
We also place a considerable value on communication as we rehearse—translation: the audio engineer is expected to bring something to the table. This works out good for me since I don’t seem to have a problem vocalizing my opinion…………… But this is EXACTLY what the audio engineer should be doing from out front. Sometimes, we’re the only one really listening to what’s emitting from the stage–we have to figure out a way to get involved and get on board to do our part to help the process.
Nothing is more aggravating than seeing an audio engineer with his arms crossed, grimacing at the stage while grumbling and muttering about how bad everything sounds. Well, help fix it Einstein! If I can’t communicate clearly, efficiently, and respectfully about what’s going on, we are absolutely nowhere. It’s a major part of my responsibility to be an active part of the rehearsal—this might mean engaging in a few meetings during the week to stay locked in with where the creative team is headed or being in the same headspace as the musicians so I can communicate with the band as if I’m on stage with them. Rehearsals are not a time for the “us” and “them” thing—I take what we do personally. If I don’t do everything possible to bring my experience, skill, and talent to bear, then I am the weak link. If I have a bad day, we ALL have a bad day—I take it personally that I let down the team on stage. Likewise, if the band has a bad day, I take it personally. I’m prepared, I’m involved, I have a voice, I have ownership in this too.
I suggest this: get serious and work on injecting some real structure into your rehearsals. At COTM, we have established the premise that the rehearsal is the time for the audio engineer and/or production crew to get it together. Rarely, if ever, is a rehearsal run from someone onstage. This takes a considerable amount of trust and confidence from the worship pastor and the guys producing but it makes sense as I am usually the one in the room with the technical knowledge and perspective to know when I’ve “got it dialed in” so we can move on. I assure you, this will be a hard jump for some. The person leading on stage may be used to maintaining all the control but here’s the deal: the best leadership a worship leader can exhibit is letting someone else with a much better perspective make the call on what needs to happen next.