Role of an Audio Director: Open Lines of Communication Key

Time is precious, which is why you asked others to do that job in the first place. The best way to empowerment is training and coaching.

Role of an Audio Director: Open Lines of Communication Key
West Asheville Baptist Church Tech Director Ralph Hicks practices on an Allen & Heath dlive S5000 control surface recently, having come a little early, to make sure that everything works before beginning practice with the musicians and other members of the sound team.
Role of an Audio Director: Open Lines of Communication Key
West Asheville Baptist Church Tech Director Ralph Hicks practices on an Allen & Heath dlive S5000 control surface recently, having come a little early, to make sure that everything works before beginning practice with the musicians and other members of the sound team.

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Role of an Audio Director: Open Lines of Communication Key

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Your job is a less than enviable one.

Don’t get yourself into the position where you are the only one who can fix things.

It seems that whenever someone forgets to turn on their microphone or a cue is missed, everyone immediately looks over at the soundboard. Well, take heart; while sound may always be the red-headed step child of service; there are things that you can do to prepare.

My number one is always communication -  both with your team and with the musicians. This can be a delicate balance, because of the temperaments of those involved.

Everyone has a different opinion, and everyone wants a different mix in their ears or on stage, and that is before you even begin to get the mix for the house ready.

Let’s start with your team. It is a good idea to remind them that we are servants, both of the Lord, and those on stage. If we serve them well, our job will be infinitely easier, and when a conflict arises, you will have on open line of communication to discuss the best option for going forward.

There are many resources for training people to run sound. It is not just about running the board, though. It is about communicating with everyone involved, and making them all feel like you acknowledge what it is they want or need. That does not mean that you will always be able to give it to them, but having built a relationship over time of trust and respect will go a long way toward the inevitable compromise.

I also let my team know that they are musicians themselves.

Placing instruments in the proper place in the mix is not always an easy task. And they should be actively listening and watching everything that is happening. Also coming to rehearsals is paramount to a good mix.

If you have more than one volunteer on the board, I would encourage them to come to as many rehearsals as possible. Knowing the songs will help for a better mix, as will watching the director and the musicians on stage to be in tune with their needs.

Songs ebb and flow. Knowing when there is a lull, when there is a solo, when to increase or decrease someone’s microphone depending on their part in the song, are all integral to a quality mix.

Remind the sound guys running the board to fully flush out the needs of the musicians during preservice practice.  Ask questions of the music director and let everyone feel comfortable enough to ask for what they want.


More About Ralph Hicks
Ralph Hicks is the Tech Director for the West Asheville Baptist Church, based in Asheville, N.C. He started serving in church when he was seven and has been a part of the volunteer staff ever since. After singing in church and running sound for 20 years, he moved behind the camera where he spent several years. He was the church's Front of House Engineer, before becoming the Technical Director six years ago.
Get in Touch: rhicks@westashevillebaptist.org    More by Ralph Hicks

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Article Topics

Technology · Audio · Team Management · Leadership · Spiritual Health · Team Development · Volunteers · Communication · Microphone · Music Director · Musicians · Practice · Role of an Audio Director · All Topics

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