What it takes to learn how to mix sound

When people hear how I mix and hear their music program come to life, they want to know what I did to make it sound so good. The next thing is what it would take for me to join their church.

While I appreciate the compliments my goal is to help you succeed with your music, drama, and worship ministries mixing your own sound.

I am constantly asked “How can I learn to mix like you do?” My answer is the same. “Most people aren’t willing to do what I did. Go find a band that plays at least 3 times a week. Mix sound for them for about 3 years in every acoustic environment you can image. You’ll be getting close by then. Then add some more time mixing for live productions. In about 5 years, if you have good ears, you’ll have it down”.

If you haven’t read the book “Outliers”, it’s a good read about what it takes to succeed at most anything. The common theme he found among masters of their crafts is that it takes about 10,000 hours to master something. That’s about 8 years of 40 hour weeks.

Most people that volunteer for sound in churches just aren’t going to do that. Don’t want to, don’t have time, don’t care. But that type of intense practice is what it takes. There is no short cut. I wish there was. It would save me a lot of grief!

There are only a few choices to help solve the “learning to mix” problem:

Pay someone that already has the skills

This is the most direct solution. Put the word out looking for someone that has experience mixing for a live band, let them mix for a couple of services and see how they do. Use services rich in music for their debut so you can get a true sense of their abilities. You may work out a deal to have that person teach your sound techs along the way and eventually turn the mix over to your in house people.

Send your best sound tech choices to a mixing class

I offer several levels of sound mixing classes depending upon the skill level you need.

Get a bear hug around the idea that all I can ever do in teaching how to mix is demonstrate the methods, the concept, and the target of a good mix - what it should sound like when its right. I can teach an introductory class or spend hours spaced over several days to weeks. How well they mix when they get back behind your mixer depends upon how much time we spend together, the skills your sound techs they bring to class, and how devoted they are to mastering their craft.

Mixing sound is mostly art with a technical component. Art takes time to master. It just does.

 


 

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