Is your team ready for Christmas?
The holiday season has a tendency to sneak up on all of us. It seems like Easter was just last week! Where did the year go? No matter, here we are and its the first week of December! Maybe some of us were on our game and Christmas planning is well underway. However I think it’s safe to say at least some of us are just now starting to have christmas services cross our mind, and that is OK! As we all know, the month of December can throw some curveballs at us with all these extra instruments and chords we never knew existed! Or is that just me? Well, I do want to take a minute to share some tips I think might help make the beautiful Christmas season just a little more enjoyable and smooth sailing for you as a worship sound guy (or girl!).
Even if you’re reading this right now thinking… “wait, is he serious? It's December already?! Crap!” It’s not too late. You can start planning now! Make sure you have a conversation with your music director, band leader or pastor about what they want to see happen in the Christmas service! Our job as technical people is to do our best to make the band's creative efforts come to life and to technically support the vision for the service! It’s hard for us to do that if we don’t know the full scope of what's going to take place until the week of. The earlier you have this conversation, the sooner you can start forming a game plan and begin to identify possible dilemmas and holdups! Start the conversations now, and start prepping anything you can, even if it’s only mental preparation!
Documentation is your friend
Write down everything you can. Keeping it just in your head is a dangerous game to play! This might be new to some, but no matter how big or small your production is, I can guarantee you that you will benefit from a patch sheet and a stage plot! Start thinking through the service, and start writing things down. There is a great software called “Stageplot Pro” that you can download here that will help you with both of these for a small fee. You can also download our free WSG patch sheet template here. Start by listing out all of your inputs. Make sure to include which microphone or DI you plan to use for each input so that you can see if you have enough inventory or if you need to have the rental conversation! Also list all of your outputs including wedges, In-ear monitor mixes, recording sends and every possible need you can think of.
Make a Plan for Worst-Case Scenarios
This is a big one, once you feel good about your patch sheet and how you have your stage setup, start thinking in your head, “What will I do if…?”. Start imagining different scenarios such as (God forbid) the band wanting to add a musician 30 minutes before doors opening. Or maybe they decide they want to move the keys to the other side of the stage 10 minutes before doors. I know these are crazy scenarios, but the point is, just take some time mentally to prepare for the worst and make sure you have a plan in place. This will save you loads of trouble and brain space should one of these scenarios actually happen! And if they don’t…then it’ll feel like a walk in the park because you thought of everything!
Plan for more than you need
One of the biggest mistakes made that will come back to haunt you in a pinch is this: not leaving room/flexibility for last minute changes. I tend to leave at least 2 inputs free after each group of channels just in case we need to add something to any one of them. You never know what a Christmas service is going to throw at you! To the best of your ability, do your best to always have some spare channels, spare mics, spare monitor mixes and spare gaff tape! Can I get an amen?! With a little forethought, it's not difficult to build flexibility into your gameplan in very simple ways like these.
Get your labeler out!
While this goes for any special event (or any Sunday morning really) it is especially helpful in potentially crazy events like a Christmas production. Go ahead and put people's names on wireless packs and mics. If it’s not already, go ahead and label your snake-heads or floor pockets with numbers and input names. This will help you to be able to troubleshoot way more effectively and in a timely manner.
Hopefully using the very simple tips above you and your team will be able to coast through your Christmas services and enjoy the holiday season for all it is! As always, if you have any questions or ideas for helpful topics you’d like to hear us cover, don’t hesitate to let us know!
Merry Christmas and Happy Mixing!