For Your Praise Band, Are In-Ear Monitors Really The Right Solution?
Even at some churches, the "Everything louder than everything else!" demand is a challenge that rises from "monitor wars."
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In-Ear Monitors ResourceIn‑Ear Monitors: Hear The Music
In the interest of having your talent receiving an optimal mix, in-ears often go a long way toward accomplishing that task.
The en masse move to IEMs - now even for smaller church halls and congregations of 200 or less - makes me wonder if we have lost sight of the main purpose of church music.
Surely the main purpose of music in a church gathering is connection. Vertical and horizontal connection.
Through songs, we want everyone - congregation and band - to connect with God and each other. With one voice, we want to pour out praises and prayers to The Almighty, encourage others in our congregation to do the same, and remind each other of the Truths of The Gospel.
Our main purpose is to dissolve the barrier - blur the line - between platform and congregation so we all know one, common purpose: Our church community sings together as an expression of worship to God.
Do IEMs help or hinder connection? Togetherness? I am going to argue that, in most church music situations, IEMs hinder.
Consider this: The main purpose of IEMs is to isolate, not to connect. It is to give the singer or instrumentalist a monitor sound that is separate, cut off, individualized and distinct from the sound of others in the ensemble and the sound that the congregation is hearing.
From the audio technician’s perspective, IEMs help isolate the room sound from the stage sound. IEMs give the FOH audio engineer greater control, but does so by isolating the elements from one another.
But we’re aiming for connection, not isolation!
This isolation goes beyond just the technicalities of sound. Singers and instrumentalists using IEMs can easily feel musically and even personally isolated too! Comments from IEM users often include statements like:
• “I find them helpful but don’t enjoy them.”
• “I don’t like ‘em, but I guess they’re a necessary evil.”
• “For singing with loud bands, I understand why you would use them.”
• “I hate them, because my voice feels isolated and the music never blends together like it does in a room.”
• “I find it so hard to be connected with the band, the song and the crowd.”
• “They’re a vibe killer.”
To my mind, the “vibe” that is being killed - or at least badly wounded - with IEMs, is connection. Our main objective is being sacrificed in favor of lesser objectives like sonic clarity, the desire for more control and the monitor requirements of individuals.
Yes, we want good, clear sound and we want to provide monitors that inspire, but these goals should not be more important than achieving horizontal and vertical connection. I have found that a team of individuals on the platform who are each feeling isolated, will very likely leave the congregation feeling isolated as well.
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