My Most Embarrassing Moment – Confessions from Behind the Board, part 2

In Web Articlesby tfwm

by Curt Taipale

Last year, I wrote to our ChurchSoundcheck Discussion Group to ask about their Most Embarrassing Moment serving on the tech team in their church. Doesn’t matter if we minister on the sound, video, lighting, or music ministry — we all have them. I told the group “If you have a good story about a mistake that you’ve learned your lesson from, let us know — I’ll gather them up and who knows where they’ll end up.”

Well, here are just a handful of them, and I have to say these stories are absolutely priceless and wonderfully cathartic! Not to mention the fact that everyone reading these should feel a deep sense of reassurance that we’re all human and we sometimes make mistakes. Enjoy!

My wife’s vocal group was having a rehearsal in the Sanctuary and the leader had given me some new songs to load into the sound booth computer, so she puts a CD in her boom box on stage so the group can warm up while I’m loading. As the song ends, I’m all done and standing at the board waiting for instructions and then the boom box starts playing the next track (with turned out to be the split track version of the song).

When the voices kicked in at the chorus, she stops the group and says, “Hey Jeff, this is the one with the voices, go back to the first track.”

(The rest of the group just kinda looks at her with smiles on their faces)

I stand there waiting for it…

She looks up after a moment and says, “This one’s a split track, so you can just take the voices out of it if you want.”

In my best Daffy Duck I reply, “And how exactly would you like me to do that, hmmm?”

(By now the rest of the group is starting to giggle but she’s oblivious as she looks over the sheet music)

Finally I walk to the front of the Sanctuary, up onto the stage, and press Stop on the boom box as the rest of the group about falls over in giggles … which after about 10 seconds of total confusion on her face, she does too. .

Life just ain’t as sweet without friends to giggle with. 🙂

Contributed by Jeff Klein

We had just gotten our projection system for our church. New projector, New computer, EZW way kewl We did not have Internet at church but we did have phone line. The Computer had a modem in it. I had our in house electrician run me a phone line into the sound booth. I had an AOL dial up account to use with church computer.

We had the system about 2 weeks. It was a Wednesday Night Prayer service. During the prayer time I was playing instrumental music via the computer CD player. This prayer time was going to be about 20-30 min.

So while everyone was praying. The music was playing over the sound system. I decided I was finished praying and loaded up AOL. Well the modem made the typical analog dialup sounds and it connected. It then was at the AOL login screen. I logged in. I was going to surf for some new backgrounds for EZW etc.

What I forgot was the sound settings in AOL.

Right after the computer passed my password onto AOL. It happened. “YOU HAVE MAIL” came sounding thru the FOH speakers loud and clear. Oh Lord, my face was red. LOL The pastor and a few others opened one eye and looked at me with the Why Ain’t You Praying Evil Eye.

I learned a big lesson. Mute the AOL Sounds etc. while dialed up during church. Also the modem sounds.. and if music was not being played to mute sound board..

Contributed by Billy Broach
Greensboro, NC

A Music Minister at one of the churches that I have consulted with has been having a terrible time with his earset mic and the wireless transmitter.

Unfortunately, it is a Shure SLX lavaliere that has a “push on,” “momentary push again to mute,” and “push and hold,” to turn it off.

As I counseled him, I noted that the LED on the top of his transmitter was green when on. It was amber when muted and out when the transmitter was turned off.

When questioned about the color of the LED, his comment was that the green was just brighter……..

Color blind!

He gets to use their new ULX-Pro system with a single on/off-mute switch!

Contributed by Russel L. O’Toole, P.C.
R&M Consulting

Okay, here’s one… So, my first time running FOH on a digital console was on the Digidesign Venue at our church. There was one point where I had to crossfade between our pastor and a video, which was on a different layer. So, I had the video cued up on the assignable channel section – one finger on that fader, one on the Pastor’s E6. I faded him out and the video in, and left my finger on the assignable channel’s fader (up mind you). I then reached over and selected the Pastor’s channel, which put him on the assignable channel fader, which brought him way up in the house, which started a low-frequency feedback! Luckily, I had better instincts than I thought I’d have, given my lack of time on the console. I yanked his channel down after only a second or two, but it was more than enough to shake me up!

Contributed by Martin E Massinger
Dallas, TX

In approximately 1988 I researched and supervised the purchase of a 32 channel Soundtracks console for the church I was in. This unit had a price point around $15,000 and this was 20 years ago. The console arrived with an inherent problem. It would shut down seemingly at will. It took a lot of trouble shooting to finally determine the power supply had insufficient cooling. It would overheat and cease to send any signal however there was no indication on the board. It was still lit up and looked fine. The worst case entailed me walking to the platform during service, stepping in front of the Associate Pastor, mid message – he hadn’t noticed any problem and just continued preaching even though there was no reinforced sound – and asking the congregation to pray, while we waited for the unit to cool down and again pass a signal.

But that is not the embarrassing moment. While performing an inspection of the inside of the console – how many of you have lifted the hood to look at the mis-performing engine in your car even when you have NO clue what you are looking at – I had disconnected a ribbon connector to be able to move a cover for better access. I replaced the connector, but it had 8 spots and there were 10 pegs with no guides. When the board went back together and was powered on – SNAP – CRACKLE – POP – aaaannnndd – SMOKE! I fried only a couple of chips and thank God one of the other Techs did know what he was doing,. He ran home to his stash and came back with the needed chips. But prior to the fix all I could think was – I just smoked a brand new 15K board.

Contributed by George Burdette
Grace Church
Macedonia, Ohio

Well being fairly new at the whole “live sound” bit I don’t have a lot to draw on… But thanks to our wondrous new console I have been provided with one.

We have a Mackie TT24 that has exhibited the dreaded random reboot issue, we’ve now tracked it down to the power supply (we think) which I hope will be here tomorrow. Three times now it has rebooted mid service, specifically mid worship set. The first time it did this I said in my normal talking over the band voice “Dude, it rebooted!” to a rather silent congregation… Ooops. I now know better and simply motion as though I’m about to kick it off the table 🙂 Never fails though I still get looked at by a large percentage of the people as though it’s my fault when it happens as I hide behind the board.

Contributed by Jason Stahls
Church On The Rock
Hamilton, Ontario

I was doing a gospel concert with some of the better known local talent and we did the sound check the night before so we wouldn’t be pressed for time the next day. So when we fired up the next day we get nothing from the monitors. Zip, nada, inky black silence. I could see from the mix position that all the red rocker switches were lit up on the power panel on the amp rack on stage so I plugged my headphones into the aux send for the monitors and cranked it up and got sound so it must be either the snake or the amp.

So I plug the snake back into the aux send and go to the stage to take a look. Well I assumed that since the monitor amp switch on the power panel was on that the amp was on. But upon closer inspection I discover the amp itself was turned off.

A good sound man would have realized that he had left the monitors turned all the way up on the console and would not have just flipped the switch on the amp. Yeah you guessed it. The poor gal on keyboard was minding her own business just fingering the keys playing through in her head when the relay in the amp cut in and the monitors came on “you absolutely got to be kidding me” loud and she fell off her chair.

I calmly told the talent “I think we got it. Let me go check that monitor level.” As I walk off the stage I heard one of the guitar players say “Are they paying that guy?”

Contributed by Larry Burton
Farmersville UMC
Farmersville, OH