10 Best Practices For Worship Sound Techs

Perhaps no technical leader faces more challenges on any given Sunday morning than the Sound Tech. With demands from every side, opinions aplenty, an ear to the Pastor (the real head Sound Tech), an ear to the worship leader/band, and an ear to the Holy Spirit, this role requires a saint, a sound technician, and a servant – all wrapped up in one. Gleaned from some of the most skilled and great-hearted Worship Sound Techs I know, here are 10 Best Practices For Worship Sound Techs.

front-soundboard-close

Worship is a dynamic environment in which God is meeting with people, and people are meeting with God. For that reason alone, the Worship Sound Tech must take their place – with active attention – among the worship leadership influencers in the room. [Note: In the age of digital boards, some things have gotten easier when running sound. With the push of a button, levels can be set. If you're on a digital board, some of the following technical elements may not apply.]

1. Ride The Faders (Or, Never Set And Forget)

The worship environment is not a static environment, in which one can set all the levels then kick back in the booth. It is dynamic, and riding the faders as well as monitoring the congregation is a necessity for effective sound leadership. Imagine you are the conductor in an orchestra, and now that piano is highlighted as the band drops out, or a sweet violin solo now lifts from the music and is to stand out. Conduct, ride the faders, and make your sound work a dynamic ministry. You can help the band create dynamics. This verse is true about sound, and how it reinforces the message being shared: “… the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message.” (Acts 10:44, NIV).

Great, dynamic sound leadership can greatly enhance the effective hearing of the message, sung, spoken, visually expressed. or otherwise communicated.

2. Gain A Respect For Gain

Ever been in a hurry to get “sound done” and ignored getting all your gain levels right? Stop. Before everything gets going, set the right gain for each mic and instrument set. A friend of mine says, “I’ve seen gains change between shutdown on Saturday night and startup on sunday, even though nothing has changed on stage. If you don’t get the gain right, you’ll be fighting the levels all through the service.”

This may mean showing up early, getting yourself together, and being ready to go when rehearsal or soundcheck starts. Hustling at the last minute causes us to miss things.

3. Serve The Pastor, The Worship Leader, The Musicians, And The Congregation

There are no two ways around it; a Worship Sound Tech must be a servant to all, carrying skill and technical ability in one hand, and a real, living relationship with Jesus in the other. That combination creates Sound Techs who are asking how they can serve better, rather than insecure leaders pushing to get their way because people are acting like they know better. I’ve always told my Sound Team over the years that the Senior Pastor is the ultimately the Lead Sound Tech, and then the Lead Worship Leader (or someone they’ve assigned to oversee it). Why? At the end of the day, you and I will go home after the “event” – and the Pastor (and the worship leader to some degree) will have to deal with the effects of the experience – church growth, church shrinkage, people’s connection or lack of connection with the church. If the Pastor says, “Please turn that down,” or “please turn that instrument up,” or “please raise the volume and energy level in the room,” find a way to do it rather than resisting. It’s just good honor – and even if they’re wrong, it will come back as a blessing later.

Serve the musicians as to what they need, and then serve the dynamic in the congregation. Often musicians need training in “turning things down” in their monitors so that other elements stand out. Be a part of that training as able. You hold the reins on front of house; offer your best to see the best rise in the community.

4. Check Your Ego At The Door

Here’s the truth. People will look at you if anything is wrong with the sound. They just will. It takes a strong inner leader to carry that in a community. Technically oriented gift mixes, in my experience and that of many, can carry a subtle insecurity with them. When challenged, or asked to “please turn that up,” or “turn that down,” or “give me more monitor” (things are harder when no one is saying ‘please’ or ‘thank you’), it’s easy to react with ego. Lay it down before Jesus as you walk in the church doors each morning. Know that the Lord has your back, and the more like Jesus you are to the pastor, the band, etc. – the more it sweetens the entire worship experience everyone will have that day.

In fact, try this. Ask the pastor and worship leader, after you’ve done sound, “How was the sound? Is there anything you’d like me to change?” The first time, they will faint because you asked. The second, they’ll feel an open door exists for ongoing interaction. It’s wonderful.

5. Walk Around The Room

With iPads and more at our fingertips (digital boards), it is now easier than ever to walk around the room, surveying the sound from various vantage points in the room and making adjustments. But even if you’re not on a digital board, make sure you are moving around to get a feel for what is happening in different spots. The sound can change radically space to space, and recommending to certain people where they should sit is not a bad thing.

6. Make Recommendations With Community In Mind

This goes with #4. Do research, give input, then open your hands to the decisions the primary worship environment stakeholders (worship leader, pastor) must make. Sometimes you may desire to cage the drummer, for example (and they may deserve it!), to get complete control of the sound. But there may be another priority brewing inside the worship leader, or even the pastor, to have the drummer not be enclosed for the sake of the visual experience, and people not seeing this as just a performance. In short, we have to live with some things, and sometimes we may discover someone else was right. That doesn’t make us inadequate – it just means that sometimes there is more than one approach to something, and various priorities must be considered.

7. Be Difficult To Offend/Easy To Work With

When leaders in the same area of expertise are working together, sometimes we exert ourselves to “prove something.” No need. Trust Jesus, and work hard to work with others. Be difficult to offend. Be easy to work with. Only hold your ground when you feel so strongly about something you would rate it an 8-10 in life, rather than if it’s really a 2-3 rating in importance. Having a “domain” is important to all of us, but we must share, compromise, and collaborate in Body life.

When working with musicians, sometimes they need some training, but from a humble posture (even if the musician is not acting humble). Teach them that asking for more in the monitor may not be the win, but actually having less of something else. “Turn it up” is the natural response to not hearing something (but then you hit a ceiling with the knobs and the room). Help them get the best mix for them, as they must respond well to the monitors to lead well (IEMs fix this part, but musicians still need training turning things down so other things stand out).

8. Learn From Everyone; No One Is Past Learning

Ask local producers, or sound techs in venues you respect, if you can sit in with them as they do sound. If they say yes, listen, learn, and ask questions. Also, research forums on the internet, looking for tips and tricks from a variety of people working through the same issues you are. A friends says: “I am continually learning new things about sound, new tricks on my board (makes me sound like a surfer), new ways to set up the mics or the _____.” Be a lifelong learner.

9. Get Help If Something Is Challenging – And Read The Manual

A friend of mine says this: “Don’t feel inadequate if you (like me) are not someone who can identify a sound frequency by hearing it. I have an ipad with an RTA, and when I’m dealing with feedback issues, I have no problem firing it up (and humming the frequency into it if the feedback has already died down). You don’t have to be perfect at everything to be a good sound engineer, you just have to be good at using the tools you have.”

And read the manual. Read the manual. Read the manual (that was reverb).

10. Make Mentoring A Priority

Mentoring is absolutely vital. Always have someone shadowing you (standing beside you as you do it, and talk them through what you’re doing). Especially a teenager or twenty-something, as musical styles and sound environment palates change over time. You want ears that are listening to more than you are, through a different auditory lens. Don’t release them too early; you want them to succeed. Create a loooonnnggg mentoring curve.

After they’ve shadowed you for a long time, you start to shadow them. Here’s the Mentoring Cycle: 1) I do it, 2) You watch me do it, 3) I teach you to do it, 4) I watch you do it, 5) You do it, 6) You teach others.

Conclusion: A Great Sound Tech Is After Transparency

A producer friend of mine says, “A great Sound Tech blesses the church by insuring that the communication of the ‘word’ (speech or music) is clear and understandable to everyone. The quality of sound during a meeting can be a major factor in how people are able to engage in the activities at hand. What good would it do for the best worship set in the world to be played, or the best teaching to be given, if the sound is so bad that no one can bear to listen to it? Bad sound can be a great distraction to those engaging in a worship service. At the worst of moments, the quality of sound can even hinder one’s ability to understand and engage at all. At the best of times, good sound provides an opportunity for clearly communicated material (music or speech) to be received easily.

When sound is then transparent, and out of mind, the ‘word’ can become the focus of attention. A prudent Sound Technician is key to achieving this worthy goal.”

Amen.

Oh, and get the pastor to assign you an intern to bring you coffee and doughnuts. Thanks for all you do.

::

Question: What best practices would you add to this list from your experience?

Resources: First, Is It Too Loud: Worship Accompaniment Vs. Worship Immersion Culture post seems to clarify some internal cultures challenging sound ministry in the local church today. Second, 7 Steps To Awesome For Worship Sound Techs offers more insights for Sound Techs. Third, Mike O’Brien’s Winning The Volume War Series is great for handling key sound elements (drums, etc.) in worship. Finally, this “heart” article, “A Great Sound Tech” by Nathan Rousu should be required reading for every Worship Sound Tech.

12 Elements Of A Thriving Worship Culture

Every church has a culture, and every worship ministry within a church has a culture as well. Our worship culture determines our long-term effectiveness at loving each other deeply, making beautiful music, creating environments that disciple, mentor, and release others (often to replace us), and building consistent spaces that empower our community in Kingdom worship. I put together the following “Our Worship Culture” statement for our own worship community at the Vineyard Church of Franklin in TN, and am posting it here if it can be helpful in forming your own for your church.

nQZcA7PRTyuduZPSZQ88_wanderlust

The following ideas remind us who we are, and where we are going, as a worship tribe.

OUR WORSHIP CULTURE

Every church has a culture, and every worship ministry within a church has a culture as well. The following ideas remind us who we are, and where we are going, as a worship tribe. If we all put apply our hearts to embodying each of these ideas personally, our worship community will thrive over the years.

1. We Are A Worship Tribe First, And A Team Second

We function as a tribe more than a team, carrying our church’s story with us, caring for our personal health and growth, praying for each other, and serving where needed, as needed. We all want to be like Jesus – and that makes us a family more than a team.

2. We Have A Weekly Worship Culture, Not Just A Sunday Event

We serve our family through many worship experiences, not just on Sunday mornings. We see our other events, large and small, with just as much significance as a Sunday morning. We don’t covet stages or platforms – they are just one context in which we lead.

3. We See The Worship Experience As An Invitation To A Table, Not A Service Or Experience

We recognize that people have come to “meet with God” (Ps. 42:2). As worship leaders, musicians, and techs, our posture is one of hospitality – we help set a Table for meeting.

4. We Mentor Others, Rather Than Being Self-Focused

We do not cling to our roles, but rather look for opportunities to develop others and, when they are trained and ready, release them to be involved. We give away stages as others are trained.

5. We Actively Pursue Personal & Musical Growth

We are self-motivated to grow – on every level. We are teachable, even the most professionally skilled among us, and receive input graciously. We model the pursuit of Kingdom greatness. We choose to get better month after month, on our instruments, musicality, leadership, and more by taking consistent, small steps toward growth.

6. We Serve Our Community, And Each Other, With No Competition

We nurture servanthood in word and deed, and champion each other. We have a distinct lack of ambition/competition among us. We trust God with our callings, and find opportunities to serve. Praying for one another keeps us us tender to, and safe for, one another.

7. We Have An Open-Handed Ministry Model

We believe that an Open-Handed Ministry model, where we make room for others to be involved, lead, play, or participate, is vital. For health and growth, we choose to be flexible. We step on an off of stages easily, without fighting for platform. Our hearts and hands are open to all that God may be doing – in us, in others, and our church.

8. We Celebrate Creativity And Excellence, Without Sacrificing Community

We celebrate excellence in all aspects of personal spirituality and music, and yet we are also open to inviting others in and discipling – with all the mess it can bring. Creativity is a high value for us, and while it is always subject to the needs of our community when it comes to worship, we want to fan into flame the the creative passions of one another.

9. We Keep The Bar High On Musicality, Heart, And Skill On Our Team

We believe that excellence in Christlikeness, and excellence in musical skill, are both vital qualities in every worship ministry member. We keep the bar high on both of these for ourselves, all the while working to create environments in which people at all stages of progress can succeed along the way.

10. We Embrace Relational and Interpersonal Purity

We are vitally connected in relationships, in small groups, and in our church family. We pursue accountable relationships, we keep short accounts, and we are teachable. Family wins. Always.

11. We Care For The Poor, And Invite Them Into Our Lives

[While this may seem out of place, for those who practice it, you will understand how this empowers a worship community culture.] We see the poor as “us,” not “them” – and allow this Kingdom perspective to change us. As a church community, and as a church family, we lean toward the poor, building community with them. This community-building includes us as a worship community. Our hearts and attitudes are softened by the felt-needs of the poor. We will continue learning to become like Christ in this as we go, and connection with the poor will shape our songs and ways of leading worship.

12. We Communicate Honestly, But With Grace And A Willingness To Learn

We choose to be very difficult to offend. We don’t do politics or complaining; we serve where we can, honor the direction of leaders, communicate with grace and honesty, assume the best of others, and give grace generously and freely as we bring our best gifts to an imperfect Table.

These are some starter ideas to help you form your own worship culture, and it’s my prayer you find your worship expression growing in richness, quality, passion, intimacy – and a sense of the Lord’s power in your midst.

::

Question: What other elements, in your experience, help a worship culture growth in strength over time?

Resources: Ideas on building a Worship Philosophy for your church are covered in the Essentials In Worship Ministry study (part of Essentials).

 

10 Best Practices For Worship Vocalists

The vocals in a worship band are an instrument, and when played well, musically, and in intentional connection with the rest of the music the band is making – can lift the worship experience in a local church to some beautiful heights. Here are 10 Best Practices for Worship Vocalists I’ve gleaned from many effective leaders, arrangers, and producers over the years that will help take the vocal instruments in your band to the next level.

m6rT4MYFQ7CT8j9m2AEC_JakeGivens - Sunset in the Park

These best practices are in no particular order, and are not meant to be exhaustive, but all of them are a bit of a “constellation” of good listening and heart habits that work together. They also don’t all focus on singing, as worship has to do with both heart and skill expressed in a band environment.

10 Best Practices For Worship Vocalists

1. Vibrato Is Out – Tight Blend Is In.

When microphones were first put in front of church vocalists back in the day, chorally or folk-bred singers brought their vibrato to the microphone. If you’re the only one singing, or if you’re trying to convey a 1970s sound (almost 50 years ago), you can get away with it. But “buzz” is what we’re after in today’s 21st century worship environments. Aim for a smooth sound, that blends tightly with the other vocalists (see #8 below).

2. Drink Lots Of Water Hours Before Singing.

Hydrated vocal cords sound better, hold pitch better, and hold up longer. Drink lots and lots of water a few hours before you are going to sing. It will help your sound and keep your voice strong for the long haul.

Oh, and warm up on the car ride in. It helps.

3. You Don’t Need To Sing All The Time.

I can’t tell you how many “deer-in-the-headlights” looks I’ve gotten over the years about this one. “I’m in front of a microphone, I practiced, so I need to sing all the time, right?” Nope. You are an instrument. Voices blend, come and go, lay out for extended periods, then come in tastefully – just like instruments. Listen to an All Sons And Daughters video, Bon Iver, or other video (see the Oceans acoustic video). It’s all about applying your “instrument” at the right time.

Sometimes, I ask one singer to join in on the first chorus, then hold back a second singer for when a bigger moment arrives. It adds dynamics.

4. Begin Phrases, And End Phrases, Tightly With The Worship Leader.

This is about concentration and practice. Losing vibrato, and focusing on creating a vocal “buzz,” pay attention to the exact rhythm and phrasing of the worship leader. Match it. Then, vocalists should match each other.

My “Vocal Circle Exercise,” below, helps train this. So does the recording studio, and in-ear monitors.

5. Two Vocals Is Enough; Beyond That Creates Another Sound And Must Be Worked.

Just so we know, today (and my preference), having a lead vocal and just one other vocal is a common, tight sound. (Think Civil Wars, or some other favorite band.) If it’s just you, fine. If it’s just two of you, tastefully apply the second instrument. If it’s more, work out the harmonies. I’m a big fan of a female vocal (if I’m leading) joining me on melody on a big chorus, while the other vocal does a cool harmony (see #7) below.

Some pastors value a higher visual “participation” up front, and vocals are the logical place to put more people. But know that it changes the sound radically, and the more vocals, the less “current” (at least in some contemporary worship sounds) the band may sonically feel. For this reason, if that is a value or request, I encourage using choirs and other complementary groups to enhance the straight-up band sound – rather than putting them all on a mic.

6. Competition Is A Heart Issue; Deal With It Before Jesus.

Just throwing this in. We’re all called to be Jesus. That’s all. Competing with others and being upset when they are asked to lead a verse, or do something special, is just our brokenness talking. Serve, with your instrument, with humility.

[Here's a hot-button I hear about everywhere I've gone the last years. Voices, and sound tastes, change. They do, and it's okay. We must all learn new approaches to ingrained singing habits. Know that if your natural vocal sound is aging, and another sound is desirable, the worship leader or those leading the ministry are not de-valuing you as a person if they emphasize the other sound/voice. Your voice is not the identity equivalent of you (welcome to the struggle of every artist). But you can learn new tricks with practice and intention.

And, as always, find your place, Be there to serve and offer ego to Jesus, be willing to step on or off a stage, and then find a variety of places to serve as needed. I'm not saying that leaders aren't imperfect in how they handle these things, but I am saying that things change and worship leaders have hard calls to make along the way. Find a place that works for you, and leave the competition off of church stages.]

7. Train To Current Recordings And Videos, And Learn Their Harmonies And Entry Points.

This is a big, big deal. Learn fresh harmonies from fresh music that is out there. As I’ve said before, 1970 styles were almost 50 years ago. 1990 was 20+ years ago. Sounds change, and sometimes people sing in ways that they mimicked in their teens and twenties.

Download a bunch of new songs, then, play them all the time. Only sing harmony in the car to every song you listen to. Practice. Try fresh approaches. If not, you will default to the 3rd, the 5th, or some other “this sounds basic and doesn’t work so good” mix. Listen, listen, listen, then mimic, mimic, mimic. Then, when a moment calls for a fresh harmony, you have a mental/vocal toolbox from which to draw.

In those recordings, also notice when vocals enter, and when they recede. Apply those ideas when you’re part of the band. Note the tight phrasing, and lack of vibrato.

8. Aim For A Vocal Buzz – One Voice – Between Vocalists.

I have an exercise I do with myself and vocalists I call the “Vocal Circle.” Off mic, we stand in a tight, tight circle. I sing a chorus, and everyone watches me to match my phrasing and dynamics. Then, we all join in. Our goal is to sound like ONE voice – not many. Vibratos disappear, and a tight “buzz” begins to happen. Then, apply this to the microphone.

When dynamics get big, vocals often get out of control, trying to add to the energy of the band. That’s when “buzz” starts to fall apart and vibratos start coming back in. Resist the urge to let go, and (even if you can’t hear well in your monitor) retain control of the instrument that is your voice. The whole will sound much better.

9. Lower Your Music Stand, Or Get Rid Of It.

Straight up? We can all memorize the songs. There, that’s out of the way. If you use a music stand, or iPad, know that it communicates a message to the congregation. It should never be in front of your face, between you and a wedge monitor (I can’t tell you how often I must move a music stand for a vocalist struggling to hear themselves. It’s a basic sound principle – if an object is between you and the sound, it will block it.

Lower the stand, and move it to the side. OCD pastors or stage techs – no, it doesn’t need to be perfectly centered with the mic. I often use my iPad now for my chord charts (less rehearsal), or I use nothing at all. Music stands are a necessary evil, and fiddling with music and other objects on the stands causes little distractions that aren’t necessary. Watch a favorite music video – where are their music stands?

10. Smile Partially Or Fully (At Least Occasionally), And Worship.

Take this one mildly. It’s not a hard and fast guideline, but I’ve seen truth in it over 20 years. If you have some soft, gentle, pleasant expression on your face up front, people think you want to be there. Then they want to be there. It’s psychological math. Super-smiles feel disingenuous (welcome to the 70s), and no smile or frown is a Debby Downer (or conveys a broody rock star). Even if one person is postured funny, in face or body, it distracts and detracts from the overall sense of worship.

Care for each other, and help make each other happy to be there. Laugh a lot. But if your heart is heavy, psychology/physiology tells us that one of the things God can use to lift your heart is you physically smiling on occasion. As C.S. Lewis said, our physical posture can affect our hearts.

I hope these tips help you in your expression of worship as a community. There are more, and as I said, this list is not exhaustive. I’d love to see more tips from others show up in the comments for everyone to glean from. Bless you as you sing, from the heart, in worship.

::

Question: Which of these 10 best practices have you found the most helpful in your world? What others have helped you navigate “vocals as an instrument” in your community?

Resources: I touch many of these general principles in the Essentials In Worship Video Course, and specifically hit them in 7 Steps To Awesome: For Worship Vocalists.

“Healing In Your Wings” (Live Performance Video) – Dan Wilt & Friends

Sometimes we write songs for a moment in time, that then carry us and those we love for a lifetime. The song in the video below, “Healing In Your Wings,” is a prayer song based on Malachi 4:2 and Psalm 62:11-12. It was born in a season years ago when it seemed like almost every family in our church community was facing some major battle –  chronic illness (cancer and other sicknesses), mental or emotional struggles (depression and more), family relational pain, or unemployment, underemployment, and financial difficulty. We just needed to sing the promise of God together.

Here is a very simple video of the song, recorded on our back porch around a Christ Candle (symbolizing the eternal presence of the risen Christ) with some friends and fellow worship leaders from here at the Franklin Vineyard in Tennessee.

::

Resources: Video and Chord chart (PDF).

Healing In Your Wings
Dan Wilt

G
There is healing in your wings, O Lord,

Healing in your wings,
C2
Healing in your wings O Lord,

Healing in your wings (2x)
.

G
There is one thing you have spoken,

Two things I have heard
C2
That you my God are loving

And my loving God is strong (2x)

.
1999 Mercy/Vineyard Publishing
CCLI# 1596342

In-Ear Monitors (IEMs): 10 Best Practices For Worship Musicians

Many churches these days have moved to IEMs (In-Ear Monitors) to reduce stage clutter, tighten up sound, and heighten musicality in the band. The sound and individual control of IEMs is fantastic, but it takes some getting used to – especially because the relational, community environment that is worship is very different from a straight performance. Gleaning from some great friends who have gone before us in the IEM world, here are 10 best practices for using IEMs in your worship environment.

Screen Shot 2014-10-04 at 7.49.33 AM

Image of John Mark MacMillan from www.1964ears.com

It’s going to take time to get used to using IEMs, so decide now that, because you can’t go back, you’re going to keep getting better at using them. There are things to learn about how to wear them, how to keep the relational environment that is worship intact as you do, and how to create a monitor mix that works for you and the overall sound.

10 Best Practices For Using In-Ear Monitors In Worship – Musicians

1. Wear Them Correctly, And “Relationally.”

Take the time to learn how to wrap your IEMs around your ear, and insert them correctly so they stay well. If this hasn’t happened, you won’t hear well. Put cables down the back of your shirt, or at least around your back. The more obvious it is you are wearing headphones, the more clearly you send a message of disconnection (think of a teenager with their headphones in at a family gathering). Be as inobtrusive as possible. (For drummers, especially behind a shield, sometimes using isolating headphone with bigger ear muffs is not so bad. Heck, everyone knows you’re already isolated! But avoid that for the bass player, and everyone else.

[Remember - everything messages on a stage. Like a music stand raised high and between us and the community messages some level of disconnection, so too constant fiddling with our tech can message the same.]

2. Give Yourself Time To Get Used To Them.

Wear them around the house, and use them with your iPhone or Android. When possible, come in early to practice and fiddle with your mix based on some of the ideas here. Over time, using your in-ears will become easy.

3. Take A Few Minutes Before Rehearsal To Set Up Your Mix Correctly.

Take the time during sound check to set up your mix properly. Ask questions if you’re having difficulty. If you get them right from the outset, you’ll have less tweaking and fussing to contend with as you go, and your part in the music will sound better. It’s exactly like getting the gain-structure right as a sound engineer – if you don’t take the time to do it properly, you’ll be fighting the sound for the rest of the morning.

4. Start With The Master Volume Low And Work Up.

Your ears are sensitive, so care for them from the gate. Start with your master volume low, then work up until it’s feeling clear. Then, work with each individual instrument to get only the level you need. This goes with the next one.

5. Only Put What You Need In Your Monitor Mix.

You will have total control of your personal mix, either with a small mini-board (we use Behringer P-16s) or an app. The more cluttered your mix is with instruments, the more muddy and frustrating it will become. Determine what you really need to do your part in the playing, then keep the number of direct instruments to a minimum in your mix. Get those levels right. (Ex. Everyone needs to hear something of the leader’s voice, and lead acoustic for rhythm. Adding in the kick drum helps create energy, and aids timing. Vocalists need to hear the other vocalists well for blend and tightness. Bass players need to hear that drummer, and drummers need to hear the inside rhythm of that lead acoustic).

Try this: Turn your volume down a bit, and try taking things out of the mix (if you are right next to the drums, for example, you might want to not have those in your mix). Then, begin to add in the congregational/room mic to catch everything else. According to some, the sound will be much better for you, and you’ll be able to follow well.

6. Don’t Hyper-Edit Your Mix.

Having said that, having too few items in your monitor (imagine your electric player only having the hi-hat in their mix) will change the music. Keep it pared down, but make sure you have what will help you “fit” into the overall sound.

7. NEVER Use Only One Of Your In-Ears.

Everybody must know this. NEVER use just one of your In-Ears for any extended period of time. Your brain will tell you to turn up the volume, and you’ll damage your ear. You just have to get good at mixing your own monitor mix so it feels good to you. The following one matters for this.

8. Add The Congregation Mic To Your Mix.

Worship is a relational experience, and if you feel isolated from the congregation and the room, you will feel like you’re alone in a studio. Every church should have an ambient mic or two for the congregation, and you will want that in your mix. You’ll feel the connection as soon as you do this.

9. Be Aware Of Your Mix Volume As The Set Begins.

You’ll want to do the least fiddling possible once the actual set begins. You should only be adjusting your master volume during the set, and that very infrequently.

10. Actively Communicate Engagement With The Band And With The Congregation.

Technology is meant to serve our shared community worship experience – not dominate it. Work on getting fluid with your IEMs as quickly as possible so your eyes can be open, and on the congregation and the leader as needed. Used well, the richness of the music will begin to grow as you hear better, and play better, together.

Bless you as you integrate IEMs to enhance your worship experience as a community. Be patient, teachable, and eager to learn. As the music gets better, I think you’ll be glad you did.

Question: What best practices or tips not listed here would you give? Note the system and IEMs you use if you know them.

::

Author: Dan Wilt is a worship leader, songwriter, author, and trainer serving with friends and family at the Vineyard Church of Franklin, TN. He is the creator of WorshipTraining’s Essentials In Worship Video Training Course for worship leaders and teams. His worship leadership blog serves up weekly tools and team encouragements at DanWilt.com.

Resources: After much research, Monoprice earbuds are the cheapest (like $10-$12 ea.) and give basic, quality sound. We use them. For more expensive pairs, Shure makes one for around $100, and 1964 Ears would be this writer’s choice for full-on molded in-ears (triple driver has been suggested by many as being ‘plenty’ for a worship context). These can run $500-$600. Ultimate Ears and others are great, too. Add your thoughts in the comments below.