A Thought On Soundcheck Etiquette

Disclaimer:  If you’re offended with what I write, don’t be.  The purpose is to get musicians to be more considerate.  Sadly, even Christian musicians do this.  It’s ultimately disrespectful to the soundtech and the musician soundchecking.  Get over yourself and realize that you’ll get your turn too.

Sometimes soundchecks end up making you feel like you’re at a busy Guitar Center.   It is so annoying when you’re soundchecking and every single musician in the band wants to show off the latest lick, fill, or vocal run they learned.  It honestly ends up wasting time.  If the sound engineer tells you to stop playing, please have the decency to listen because you’re cutting into precious time.  I’m not a sound engineer, but I’m always looking out to make sure sound is taken care of.

Additionally, for the Christian musician, please play something that will give the sound engineer an example of what you’ll be playing for the event. Give the sound engineer your max volume, so they can factor that into their FOH mix.

Overall, this is to make the experience of the event less hectic and more productive.

“Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance”

In a vocal coach CD I learned the phrase “Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance”.  I know the statement is fairly corny, but there is so much truth within the five words.

Proper signifies that there is a right and a wrong way to do things.  There have been many occasions where I’ve “Mickey-moused” certain things just to get a task accomplished.  I believe that to set yourself apart, you must first do things properly.  I learned from a friend a few years back that shortcuts are a Satanic means of getting to the goal without working or suffering through the task(s).  He used various examples like cheatinggambling, and steroids.  Those are all improper methods to reaching a desired goal.

Preparation connotes working towards the goal.  I understand that it sometimes feels good to just be spontaneous and random, but if we want to properly do things and accomplish them correctly, it is vital that we prepare.  Maybe it’s just me, but musically speaking, one would never just “wing-it” during an important gig or overall professional event.  I’ve played with musicians who glissando [a continuous slide up or down between two notes]and guess notes even though I’ve taken time to type up the chord charts and place them in their respective positions relative to the song.  There have even been a few occassions where I’ve led a rehearsal and someone still manages to not know where we are at.  It is so frustrating.  Maybe that’s why I’m such a micromanager.

Prevents promotes the feeling of safety.  We, as musicians, must see proper preparation as a means to prevent a potential mess.  My piano teacher always told me, “Robert, you need to practice and memorize your music so that you prevent any mistakes”.  She also stated, “If you do make a mistake, just don’t show it”.  It is so humorous to reflect on her words because having been a musician for quite some time now, I’ve had my fair share of faces, mistakes, and lack of preparation.

Poor, in my opinion, is the result of the lack of the former three words.  It is a poor shame when an individual or overall band lacks the proper preparation to prevent any foreseeable mistakes.  I don’t easily get embarrassed.  However, I feel embarrassed when I see another person make mistakes that could have been prevented with proper preparation.  Honestly, the word poor shows how destitute an individual is musically.

Performance in any venue must contain the previously four words.  As Christians, we play for the Lord, but he is the overall judge of what we play.  Although the phrase “Proper preparation prevents poor performance” isn’t necessarily a Christian phrase, I believe it should be integrated in our daily lives as musicians and believers.  Our work is unto the Lord and not to men, so why should we bring an offering that is blemished with improper and poor preparation.

I have seen with my own eyes the great value in quality rather than quantity.  We are to bring a sacrifice unto the Lord that is pleasing to Him.

“Far more than playing”

I believe with all of my heart that the worship leader role is not just for any Christian musician or singer. They are literally a shepherd of the flock on stage. They must maintain a certain attitude regardless of the situation.

For an upcoming event, I have learned about the necessity to be more spiritually ready than musically ready. I know that we are to be skilled in our instrument to be bring an excellence to the King, but I also know that the Lord is seeking worshipers who worship Him in spirit and in truth. Our ability to play an instrument should never exceed our responsibility as a servant of Christ.

From my observations of personal instances and other activities, I have encountered an imbalance of ability and responsibility. Many musicians in worship bands mainly focus on standing out rather than standing within the context of the band. Recently, I saw a worship leader video by Paul Baloche and his musicians [very professional ones to be exact] all encouraged musicians and singers to be simple. They understood the desire to play out sometimes, but as John Piper stated, “If any part of worship points back to US, it’s no longer worship.”

May our endeavors as musicians for the cause of Christ go beyond what we can do. Our goal must be to assist in creating the atmosphere fertile for an intimate encounter with the Lord and His people and not about us and our music.