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Training your Tech Volunteers Part I

Training up you team requires time for practice

I've talked about some of the challenges that are fairly unique to the technical ministry volunteer landscape. Today, let's talk about how one might deal with some of these challenges.

One of these challenges is training. Audio is one of the more demanding jobs, and it's one of the hardest to train for. Why? Because (1) you need the sound system in the room where you will be mixing, and (2) you need a band. Because of this, rarely do the audio techs get time for them to just practiceit's always about providing for other's practice or performance needs, and rarely deals with their own need to learn and get better at what they do.

Something we did at the church I worked at when we were building a new auditorium is we bought a 24-track recording system for the purposes of training the audio techs on both the new audio console as well as the new room. We recorded the worship team one Sunday, with each instrument and vocalist recorded as its own track. Then, we were able to connect that recorder to 24 inputs of the new audio console in any ol' room in the church, and the audio techs could come in anytime they wanted and practice with the new console before it got installed in the auditorium. So, by the time that the sound system was installed in the new room, they had experience with the new audio console.

Then, once the sound system was installed, they could do the same thing, but using the entire PA system in the auditorium, and learn how to mix for that room. The room a PA system is installed in greatly affects the sound, so this helped them greatly in understanding what they needed to do to make the room sound good.

The digital mixers of today often make this even simpler, and making this a requirement of any new audio system would greatly enhance your ability to train your audio volunteers. Most manufacturers call this functionality a "virtual sound check." And unlike the system I set up 12 years ago, you frequently don't even need to change any cabling to switch into "training" mode, making it quicker and simpler for a volunteer to drop in and train for a little while.

If you're frustrated about the quality of the sound at your church, as yourself: what has the church provided to make it possible for your audio techs to learn, practice and grow? Because it's not something one can effectively do at home on your own.

For your lighting volunteers, many of the lighting systems popular in the church today can be run at home on a Mac or PC. And it's also possible to create a program that when on the same computer, or on another computer on the same network, that simulates the lighting system of your room and actually shows you what the lighting looks like as you use the lighting control software. Providing such a lighting simulator for your volunteers would greatly help your lighting people train, and also enable them to program lighting for a service or event at home to make their time working at the church more effective.

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