If you’re driving your car down a familiar road, you know where the potholes are and how to avoid them. Without getting into the why of it all, worship and tech teams seem to make the same mistakes over and over, year in and year out. While we’re all guilty of making them, after a while it does get frustrating and this does create some underlying tension inside teams – neither of which is healthy.
Again, noting that these mistakes are perennial for many of us, I opted to put my “greatest hits” list of the classic fails in the order they occur on a Sunday morning. In this fashion, we can all work together to fix these problems over the coming months in a strategic and orderly way. Interestingly enough, the first five barely get us through sound check, which means there’s definitely more to come, so let’s get to it!
FAIL #1: I FORGOT MY GUITAR STRAP
Truth be told, there has been more than one Sunday morning where I opened my case and discovered that I forgot my guitar strap – doh!
SOLUTIONS: Make a checklist of everything you need to bring with you and don’t forget to check it! I’d also suggest keeping an extra loaner strap at church for the team to share – someone will appreciate it, and it just might be you.
FAIL #2: THE 9 VOLT BATTERY IN MY GUITAR/BASS IS DEAD
In my experience, this one applies to acoustic guitarists and bass players pretty evenly. I think we’ve all witnessed “battery fail” more times than we care to remember, so fortunately this one is a pretty easy fix.
SOLUTION: I keep extra batteries in my case cubby, car door, and with the tech team as a backup. As a bit of preventative medicine, try putting piece of painter’s tape on the back of your headstock and mark the date with a Sharpie so you can track when it’s time to change the battery. Don’t forget to unplug your instrument between services, as this will drain your battery prematurely.
FAIL #3 I LOST THE ADAPTER FOR IN IN-EARS
Between sticking them in my pocket and then leaving them on my nightstand, there has been more than one Sunday morning where I opened up the cute little case that came with my IEMs, only to find that my adapter had once again gone “missing”.
SOLUTIONS: If you use professional IEMs, purchase some extra adapters from the manufacturer and always leave one at church. If you’re using headphones beware that there are a few different styles of adapters (snap-in, screw-on… etc.), so if you pick up some extras make sure they are the right fit. Sunday morning is a bad time to find out you’ve got the wrong adapter.
FAIL #4 NO VOCAL WARM UP
Yep, I’m going there. You warm up your car before you drive it, and vocal warm-ups are how to get your voice ready to lead worship and sing tight harmonies.
SOLUTIONS: Regardless of whether your team does a vocal warm-up, try using your car ride to church to prepare your voice for worship. This is every bit as important for backing vocalists as it is for worship leaders, perhaps even more so. Once the team is at church there is a great window for a group warm-up and running harmonies while the instrumentalists are setting up. If you lead from acoustic, I’d suggest either sound checking first or just before the vocalists so you can accompany them with your guitar.
Teamwork is the operative thing here so keep that in mind!
FAIL #5 INFINITE SOUND CHECK
There is little that is more demoralizing to a team than having their precious prep time chewed up by a disproportionately long sound check.
SOLUTIONS: While worthy of an entire article, here are a few tips. Worship peeps, be in tune, ready to play, and try choosing the chorus of both a loud and quiet song so your sound team has an idea of what to expect. Sound techs, many of the new boards allow you to create presets for each musician, and this is a great way for technology to serve you as you support the worship team. Teamwork is the operative thing here so keep that in mind!