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Training - Where'd you get yours?

Blake Engel, All Church Sound


How did you get into the sound ministry at your church? Who taught you how to run sound? Who taught you how microphones and monitors should be used? Do you understand what the equipment does and how it's connected? Do you just make sure the microphones are on, or do you also listen to the sound to make sure it's good?

All of the questions above deal with training--if you have it, and where you got it. Training is important for just about everything we do. We need to be trained at school, we need to be trained in work, we need to be trained how to use the VCR, the oven timer, the home stereo, and yes, even the church sound reinforcement system.

When people think of training, they envision a classroom experience involving lectures, demonstrations, and possibly hands-on work. The dictionary definition of training says that it's the state of being trained. That is, if you're learning something, you're being trained, no matter how you're learning. That means you can be trained by a teacher, a co-worker, a mentor, a book, a TV show or video, or even a computer!

First of all, why would anyone actually want to learn about all this church sound stuff anyway? Beyond just curious interest, most people want to learn new things so they can do a better job at something. In church sound, a person wants to learn about the existing equipment and how to use it properly. This person wants to understand why things work or don't work; why one method is better than another.

Does everyone want to learn? Should they? I believe the person who's unwilling to learn is foolish. Now, that doesn't mean that people who don't want to learn something they're not interested in are foolish. It's the people who know a little about something, need to know more, but don't want to learn any more. Usually these people don't blatantly say they don't want to learn. It's seen more as a response of "I don't want to listen to what you have to say". Or, "I'll physically listen, but you can't make me agree with what you have to say, even though you're right." There are plenty of people (and we all know someone like this!) who may listen to what you say, but they never agree simply because "I've never done it that way, and I never will." An attitude like this tends to get people in trouble in some way or another.

So, we can learn from person, a book, a TV, and even a computer. We need to continue learning. The big question (for us) is "Where does anyone go to learn about church sound reinforcement?" Glad you asked!


Syn-Aud-Con (Synergetic Audio Concepts) is a professional organization dedicated to high quality sound reinforcement systems (and video, etc.). They offer training seminars in system design and operation, a newsletter, and an online computer listserve where you can talk with the pros. Syn-Aud-Con can be contacted at 812-923-0174 or online at http://www.synaudcon.com.

Another great organization is ChurchSoundCheck magazine, which is an online service offering articles on church sound as well as a FREE listserve you can be a part of. This listserve currently has several hundred people involved--both professionals as well as volunteer workers. Topics discussed range from simple audio practices to the new digital control systems available. The beauty of the listserve is that it's a Christian group of people. These people share their prayer requests with each other and support each other in a way no other listserve does. Take a look at the ChurchSoundCheck web site at http://www.churchsoundcheck.com and head for the discussion list link. They also offer training seminars!

Yet another source for online information is The Church Sound System & Acoustics Discussion Group found at the Church Sound Network. This is a web-page based discussion group where no matter when you join in, you can always see what's already been asked and how its been answered. The Church Sound Network can be found at http://www.jdbsound.com/index.html. The site offers many, many pages of articles and information related to church sound and acoustics. This site is also free.

Books & Videos

There are countless books on audio and acoustics in general, and even a few on church audio and acoustics.

A few books include "Guide to Sound Systems for Worship" and "Sound Reinforcement Handbook", both by Yamaha. If you really want to get into things, pick up a copy of "Handbook for Sound Engineers--The New Audio Cyclopedia" by Glen Ballou. "Sound System Engineering" (Davis & Davis) and "Audio Systems--Design and Installation" by Phillip Giddings are also some pretty in-depth books.

All of these books can be ordered via our web site or from most bookstores. In terms of video, Crown International, Inc. (800-342-6939) offers "LIVE SOUND! For Houses of Worship". Another similar video ("LIVE SOUND!") was put together and is sponsored by JBL, Shure, Soundcraft, ART, and Urei. If you're looking for a simple training video on the basics, get a copy of "How To DO Church Sound" by Internally Sound (901-686-7968).

Several manufacturers also offer videos based off their equipment-If you have a particular piece of equipment, give them a call and find out if they have any training materials for it!


Inspiration! is a church media conference held each year, usually in the fall. This conference includes a number of seminars by very prominent speakers as well as a manufacturers floor display area. This is a great place to start your learning about church sound. Learn more about Inspiration! at http://www.tfwm.com/inspiration/index.html, or call them at (905) 830-4300.

Syn-Aud-Con offers seminars as noted earlier in this article.

All Church Sound offers church-specific training seminars. That is, we come to your church and train your people in the use of your equipment. We also teach the basics of church audio and acoustics. This allows the operators to ask equipment specific questions while we're all there, looking at the equipment. This approach to training (on site) is the best way to train your operators in what they can do with the equipment you have, not what someone else has.


What about magazines? Many are available specific to audio and multimedia in the church. Technologies For Worship Magazine (http://www.tfwm.com, (905) 830-4300) is something that should sit in your sound booth for your operators to read. Your Church magazine ((800) 632-2738) is distributed freely to pastors and deals with not only sound, but many other areas. Another great resource is Church Production Magazine (http://www.churchproduction.com, (877) 241-7461) which is a new magazine.

Training isn't everything though--nothing can beat real hands-on experience. Anyone can sit in a drivers education course, read the book, take the test (and pass it), and yet still have never sat behind the wheel of a car! The same is true with church audio (or anything, for that matter). Once you know the information, you must apply it to make it useful. Hiding it or thinking that "your way" is better than the "correct way" doesn't help anyone. In fact, it usually does more harm than good.

Check out some of the resources listed in this article--spend some time learning. If you're on the internet, there's plenty of information to keep you busy for a very long time--just follow the links!

One more thing--so you get the information, great. Be sure to PASS IT ON!