By Wade Kirk
When a worship leader says there’s going to be a rehearsal, a sound tech automatically knows some sort of a sound check is going to be involved. Let me first make the distinction between a rehearsal and a sound check, for they are not the same. A rehearsal is music-based; the band learns to play the songs. They decide on musical arrangements, vocal parts, solos, etc. The worship leader is in charge during a rehearsal. The purpose of a sound check is to get the band to sound good through the house system and to make sure the musicians can hear what they need to hear through their monitors in order to perform their best. During a sound check, the sound tech is in charge. To correlate the two, a sound check is to a sound tech as a rehearsal is to a musician. They are both important. Rarely are rehearsals and sound checks completely separate in the church world. They are usually incorporated together. There is nothing wrong with combining them. In fact, it’s necessary sometimes. There’s no way a loud drummer is going to be able to rehearse effectively with singers and an acoustic guitar without some sort of sound reinforcement. He can’t hear them; he needs a monitor. Because they can’t hear themselves over the loud drums, the singers will blow out their voices by straining them too hard. They need a monitor.
Back to the question: does a sound tech need to be at every rehearsal?
It depends. There are many factors to consider when you answer this question. Mainly, does the existing band require a legitimate amount of technical support to warrant a sound tech to be at the rehearsal? If so, request your sound tech to attend. Often, he’ll be willing to show up if his schedule permits. It’s likely that being at the rehearsal will also give him a head start on his mix for the Sunday morning service, and that means he can probably sleep in a little!
A band comprising of two singers, an acoustic guitar, and a percussionist doesn’t need monitors to rehearse. Sometimes it’s more of a distraction for a band like that to rehearse with a sound system than without. They would be more productive and be able to focus on the music more if they didn’t have to worry about the technical side.
Sometimes the band needs monitors to rehearse, but it’s not crucial for the sound tech to stay the duration of the rehearsal. He could set up the equipment needed for the band and get them started. After the musicians have a decent enough monitor mix to get through the rehearsal, the sound tech can show the worship leader how to turn off the gear when they’re done, then leave.
On a side note, just because the worship leader wants the sound tech to be present at a rehearsal doesn’t mean he needs to be present. I’ve attended many rehearsals because the worship leader wanted me there more as a technical safety net than as a sound tech focusing on the monitor and house mixes. He wanted me there just in case something went wrong, and he didn’t want to have to deal with any problems himself.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s never a bad idea for a sound tech to be at a rehearsal. Still, you have to consider how productive it would be for the sound tech to be present. For some churches, it might actually be a better decision to not have their sound tech at the rehearsal. There may be more important tasks needing to be done. Maybe he needs to fix broken equipment that is expected to be working on Sunday. He may need to install new gear in a room, and it’s always a good habit to check in on the high school volunteers running sound for the youth department. He may also want to spend the evening eating dinner with his family.
Many other elements play a role in deciding whether the sound tech should attend a rehearsal. How comfortable is the worship leader with the sound tech? How comfortable is the sound tech with the worship leader? How well do they work together? Can the sound tech quickly dial in the mix Sunday morning? The questions go on and on, but that will give you a rough idea.
There is no definite answer to whether a sound tech should attend a rehearsal. Every band is different. Every service is different. Every worship leader is different. Every sound tech is different. You’ll have to decide yourself. If your sound tech is willing to be at every rehearsal, by all means let him attend. If that’s your case, though, you have a good sound tech. Technical skills can be acquired through proper education and honed by experience, but the willingness to serve isn’t a trait that can be taught.