Back To The Grindstone

Grindstone

After two weeks of vacation following the birth of my daughter, I went back to work last week.  In some ways it is nice to be back, to have a schedule, and to get out of the house.  But it is hard to be away from my new baby.  But there are bills to be paid, and a growing mountain of things that needed to be done two weeks ago.

Because of the way everything worked out, my first day back at work was Sunday.  The original plan was for me to take Sunday off and come back Monday, but with everything else happening, that just did not work out.  So I walked in Sunday morning after two weeks off, suffering symptoms of sleep deprivation, and without the benefit of having run sound at rehearsal.  Overall, it was defiantly not my best Sunday.  At one point I sarcastically quipped that I had not struggled this much with a mix since High School.  While that was an exaggeration, it was not a great day.  I would love to whine and complain about everything, but I think I need to be more positive.  So I will share a few lessons I learned.

  1. Rehearsal is Important:  There is a reason that we have implemented an expectation that if you can’t make rehearsal, you can’t run Sunday.  This week was an example of a time where that just was not possible, but it highlighted just how important rehearsal is.  Many of my struggles would have been avoided if I had been at rehearsal.
  2. Know Your System:  When I first turned on the system and ran some music, it sounded like it was playing through a tin can.  There was little volume, no depth, and no bass.  After checking my console settings and walking the room, I discovered that sound was only coming from my down fills and front fills.  Since I was very familiar with my system, I could tell which speakers were working and which were not.  After double checking the set-up of my console and finding no problems I knew it was probably the amp rack.  Knowing that my fills and mains shared a send from the board, and that the front fills and down fills were on two of my amps, and that my mains and subs were on three others immediately narrowed down my troubleshooting.  And only the amps for the fills had power.  I found a popped circuit breaker, Turns out that the two amps running the down fills and front fills where plugged in on two separate circuits, but the 5 amps that run our mains, subs, monitors, and foyer speakers were all running off one circuit.  Once that was redistributed, we had no more power problems.  (If I had known my system better, we would not have had this problem to begin with.)
  3. Keep Your Focus:  As I mentioned, I struggled last week.  I struggled with the amp problem.  I struggled with feedback.  And I struggled with my mix.  But mostly, I struggled to keep focused.  The first time the feedback happened, I corrected the problem, but my concentration was gone.  Because I was focusing on my mistakes instead of my next cue, I did not un-mute the pastor’s mic before he started speaking.  Everyone will make mistakes.  That is inevitable.  We can try to prevent them, and that is great, but when we do make mistakes, we have to keep our focus and move on.  If we don’t, one minor mishap can lead to a series of mistakes that all could have been avoided if we had just kept our focus on the next cue.

Hopefully you have learned something from my struggles.  I know I have.

Tune in next time to see what I learned from a Sunday morning power outage.  Yes that’s right, the second Sunday since coming back to work we lost all power during service.  Look for a post soon about the details, and the lessons learned.

Happy Mixing,
Aaron