Thursday, April 17, 2008

Microphone check at church

About ten years back, I started playing drums in church. Churches have a lot of interesting dynamics. Honestly, they should have a reality show based on church behind-the-scenes goings on. I could write the first ten shows, easy.

Anyway, in any venue that is using sound reinforcement, you have your microphone and instrument checks. This is done so that the sound man can make sure that he is at least getting a signal at the mixing console from each of the instruments and singers. Things happen that can stop the signal. A guitar might need a new battery. On a wireless microphone, the battery could be dead. The antenna unplugged. The sound man might have forgotten to turn on the power to the wireless receiver. A cable from the keyboards might have been stepped on and come unplugged. I’ve even seen things such as someone decided to move the piano but did not unplug the cables. They just pushed the baby grand over the cables, crushing them and rendering them to the trash can. Or my shop where I’d cut them in two, solder on new ends and make two short cables from a long one.

So when the sound man is ready, he will push the un-mute button on the sound mixing console. This brings the signal from the microphone or instrument, to the board. The sound guy will probably have the fader, also called the volume, all the way off, but the board has some lights that will confirm a signal. He can then bring the fader up and you should hear something from the speakers. If he has a person who messes with their instrument all the time, he might mute them again so he can check other signals. "Messes with their instrument"....I need a better term for that. Sounds sort of Kinky when talking about music reinforcement at church. How about, "endlessly playing on their musical instrument". Much better.

On microphones you need someone to speak into the microphone, click their fingers in front of it, make a sound for the microphone to pick up, so the sound board can register the signal and the sound man can bring up a preliminary volume level. People will say different things. Some people get shy and just say one or two words. Sometimes they ask the sound man “what should I say?” He will often say something like “just say anything”. So they sit there going “anything…..anything….anything”. Sometimes, they switch off to “Bueller….Bueller”.

Sometimes people say this:
“Check….Check….Cash, Cash, coins, credit cards, MasterCard, Visa, American Express

Sometimes, someone will say something really funny in church.

This was one such microphone check at church.

“Check….Check. Cash, Diners club, Test….Test….TESTICLES….”
You could hear a pin drop.

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