by Curt Taipale
Bet you can’t top this one. During a Sunday morning church service several years ago, we were in the middle of the offertory special music when I methodically made what will hopefully be the worst mistake of my entire mixing career.
The choir was singing with a live band. To improve our chances for gain-before-feedback in those days, we had gotten into the habit of pre-tracking the choir. That gave me a click track on one channel to feed to the band, and all the choir I ever needed on the other channel. So imagine this. We’re in the middle of the song. The band is playing with the click track fed over their headphones. The choir is singing live. I have mics on the choir, and I’m using the prerecorded choir to fill out the sound and give me some extra choir volume to use as needed.
As this is going on, I’ve allowed myself to get distracted. I’m thinking about the transition from this song into the sermon. And I’m looking around the sound booth, checking for things that I might have overlooked, like forgetting to turn off the CD player that I’d used for walk-in music before the service.
I look over and discover the cassette deck rolling, and I says to myself, “Well, what’s that rolling for?” The moment I hit the stop button I realized what a stupid mistake I’d just made. You guessed it. I stopped the track that the band and choir were singing along with. Now, fortunately for me, my Bachelor of Music degree and 12 years of making my living as a musician kicked into gear at that moment. I realized that I’d stopped the track on the downbeat of a bar. So I somehow counted four bars and hit the play button on the next downbeat.
It's my sense that 99 percent of the congregation never knew what happened. Bless their hearts, the band and choir director caught it, and gracefully adjusted for the extra four bars.
But my goodness did I feel stupid. You can bet that I’ve never made that mistake since.
It also taught me to stay focused. In a sense, it taught me to keep from being too focused as well. It may sound odd to say this, but I was trying so hard to be focused that that in itself allowed me to get distracted.
(Originally published in November/December 1998 issue of TFWM.)
Did you enjoy living vicariously through these stories from other church techs?
Click here to enjoy reading My Most Embarrassing Moments, Part 2.
Click here to enjoy reading My Most Embarrassing Moments, Part 3.
Click here to enjoy reading My Most Embarrassing Moments, Part 4.