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Author Topic: Ideas to test new sound guy  (Read 3001 times)

andrew gissing

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Ideas to test new sound guy
« on: August 29, 2004, 08:45:08 pm »

I'm a pro engineer and got involved with this church 2 years ago.

In two years there has been only me and him to do two services a day. He's not had much training but it was better than nothing.

Now that i've managed to get a 3rd guy on the team, we've got some slack. I'm now addressing the concerns of muso's that the other guy needs more training - he's not quite there.

I've also hired this guy on a casual basis to do gigs with me & my PA - so he's getting some experience there too.

But.. from being with this guy what i've learned is that he does know quite a bit about sound, knowledable about technical do's and don'ts etc.

What is to his disadvantage is that he's a bit slow in the head, and he doesn't handle stress very well.

I really want to work with him here - I can see this diamond sitting in him that's covered in layers of carbon. I need to work out how to bring the diamond out.

Our church meets in a 1200 seat school auditorium and as such we've got to setup from scratch every sunday morning. I've done the following: Wireless mic not turned on, On but mute still on, no battery, even miming in front of the mic <grin>.. plugging cables in incorrectly, putting lead into speakon plug but not twisting, turning amps on but not up.. and even grabbing the main graphic faders during soundcheck and turning off whist he was elsewhere.

And he's coped with all of that - most of that was in one service too !

So... my current path is to try and figure out how to stress him out and gain experience in handling that.

Any ideas - or other paths to take ?

Many thanks,


Andrew

PS: If it helps, we're a mid sized church - 600 mornings, 200 evenings, pro/semi-pro muso's, in-ears and such.
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Dan Costello

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Re: Ideas to test new sound guy
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2004, 10:01:43 pm »

Let him be the one to screw up the system. Very Happy

Seriously, I think that if I knew I were being tested on stuff, I'd know that the situation wasn't at the point of being critical and that I had the tester to fall back on if I took too long.

But... If I'm the one that boffed up, then I start sweating - I know that I have to fix it FAST or else people will get antsy and I'll look like a stooge.

Hope this helps.

-Dan.
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Dan Costello

"Well, I've been to one world fair, a picnic, and a rodeo, and that's the stupidest thing I ever heard come over a set of earphones.."

yam4000vca Jim Gould

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Re: Ideas to test new sound guy
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2004, 11:37:51 pm »

It seems like you have tested him and he as not done too well. Something that I learned over time when trying to train people is that some have it and most do not.
Taking this person out to do shows with you is a good idea as there is allways something to learn. You do not say how long this person has been involved in pro audio.
Here is another thing to think about. If you are a seasoned pro of good capability and this guy is a rookie or close to it of course the players on the stage are going to notice a difference. If they did not then there is something not up to par in your skills.
The church deserves as good of a job as they can get. If you can not for whatever reason do all the activities at the church they can either pay for somebody that can measure up to what you do or try to make things as idiot proof as you can and try to train in just level adjustments in a subtle way.
A lot of the mistakes you say have happened are pretty bone headed ones.
The two traits that you mention of being slow in the head and not handling stress real well would eliminate him as a good candidate for any but operation of the most basic system in my mind with out very close supervision.
The main thing that seperates sound people to me is how they deal with adversity in many ways.
Some of the problems can be solved maybe with a set procedure for making sure mics are indeed on as well as for turning system on and off.(Hey this is rocket science. The space guys have check lists:) This can be trained on your shows too.
I am not sure what you see in this person but from the description you give I would not need it in any of my shows.
I have been known as a pretty good teacher but part of that is knowing in pretty short order where there is real potential. I do not think this person really has it but I could be wrong.
I would also let him do the service that is lower stress to gain confidence maybe.
Final result is no matter what you think of this person, he may be a great guy,but he is not packing the goods to cut the mustard here. Maybe he can learn but I would not count on it. I am really not a negative person but do think that what we do is a skill and some people can not ever do it well.
We all need to know our limits as we all have them in different areas and live sound is something that many things have to come together quick to be effictive at it.
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andrew gissing

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Re: Ideas to test new sound guy
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2004, 12:31:46 am »

Maybe I should make myself clear - the "mistakes" mentioned above weren't mistakes made by him, they were deliberate things by me to see if he could identify where the problem was - and he did, pretty quickly.

Muso's definately notice the difference between me & him but at the same time... realise that it's far, far better than me for AM service and nobody for PM service ! We've got the same finance/volunteer issues as well.

I guess my real problem is that when I started out I was doing gigs that didn't really matter - I was young, band were young and it was small local pubs.

This is the sort of work that would suit my offsider - except we don't have it anymore - my private work is corporate professional stuff and church services are not something to play around in... and as for rehearsals ? Well.. that's another topic - how do you get a band to rehearse so that the sound guy can learn !

I'm not giving up on this guy - I know he can get there, I just need to find ways to expand his experience. What I think I need to do is introduce stressful things and guide him through it. And then give him more stressful things until one day I take a knife to the multicore, cut it in two and say right - service in 10 minutes, whaddya do now ? <grin>

Other idea's i've got are to make up some dodgy leads and use them - let him work out which lead is faulty.

I guess i'm asking for fault finding exercises and anything else that can throw a guy and make him think under pressure.

Andrew
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Dan Timon

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Re: Ideas to test new sound guy
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2004, 08:24:53 am »

Sometimes a person who appears to be slow to react is not quite sure how to react, and sometimes he is unaware of a problem. Maybe you could really drill into him the system topology and gain structure, with "when this happens, this happens" exercises along the way. Reinforce the topology lessons with real-world illustrations of what each part is doing.

Using flash cards can simulate a little of the stress of a live experience, expecially if you yell or interrupt him while he is going through the thought process. Work with him to create a troubleshooting procedure, based on the system topology. If he has a thorough knowledge of this and the signal flow, he can come to the right conclusion much faster.

Try lifting grounds here and there, and unbalance cables and add some noise into the system to show him what various noises sound like, put a metal plate in front of RF antennas to simulate reception problems, and create RF interference problems with other transmitters set too close.

Set limiters so he can hear the mix drop out when the kick slams, and set comps so there is feedback when a muso stops playing. If the musos don't mind, dial in a little feedback-you can use an extra aux line instead of one of their mixes, if available and a guitar or microphone to create the loop so he learns to recognize the sound before it gets loud. Use the SFT program (Simple Seedback Trainer software, available for free download) to help him identify frequencies, and have him study the Golden Ears course.

Also, make sure that he is having fun and feels appreciated and rewarded. The worst thing that could happen is if all this testing and training blows out a small flame of interest.

Good luck.

Dan Timon
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andrew gissing

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Re: Ideas to test new sound guy
« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2004, 07:34:19 pm »

Now there's some ideas - many thanks !

He's aware of what I want to do with him - i've told him my goal is to be able to hand the keys of my truck to him and say "go do a gig on my behalf" - and that won't happen until i'm confident he can deal with anything that's likely, and unlikely to happen.

Thanks for the great ideas !

andrew
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Stuie

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Re: Ideas to test new sound guy
« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2004, 10:56:34 pm »

Andrew

Dont go too far with testing as you maybe testing the person's patience. One thin i have found is the ears to hear. Most people i have encountered dont actively listen to mix or song leaders request and kill alot of hard work.

Get that person in setting up and pulling down of the system. Also some time to experiment with the various bits of hardware. i am teaching my guys about compression and reverb. They are too scared to turn the dial around half way through a service.

People are people and we need to find a better ways of helping them achieve better mixes.

Big Point here my wife does the music team and i am in the middle of transition over to production. In the music team we interview everyone just like a job make sure they are eho they say they are, They can actually sing or play, Long term aspirations.

The worst thing in the world is having to constantly ring or motivate a 'dead weight' in your team. Also another thing is pray for some good people who have had some experience in sound and in church to come along and plant themselves in your church, Worked for me.

Cheeers
Stuie
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Bryan Roberts

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how i got trained
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2004, 11:47:27 pm »

Ahh, back in the day, when I started learning sound, my mentor told me,"You come every week, you help set up all the way, you watch me during shows, and you tear down all the way." I actually did that for an entire year of college. Usually twice a weekend. At first, I just helped him setup. Eventually, I was setting up by myself. And the first time I mixed was a year later when he was gone.

It helped me learn many things. Signal flow, effeciency in setup/tear down, and above all, troubleshooting. Finding the buzz. Locating a bad cable. That sort of thing.

It seems to me that this is the best place to start. But this means that you need to be there at least at first. Even if this means taking some steps backward, you can let him lead and just take a backseat to be a source for him while learning the process.

Then I think following Dan's ideas are perfect. Learning what a comp sounds like when it's comping is great. Another idea would be to go through a Sound book like the one Yamaha offers. You could take a chapter a week and discuss over coffee.

Learning by doing worked great for me, but that's the best way for me to learn. What's important is finding out the best way for your student to learn. The above might not work for him. Maybe the testing you are doing isn't the best way for him. See what he thinks.

But I agree, if you believe he has "it", then give him the chance to grow the gift. Sometimes the slowness in those guys is because they don't have the experience or knowledge to get to the source of what's wrong. That's where you the mentor come in. I think it's great that you are doing this for this person. I am the engineer I am today (for better or worse Smile  ) because of the people who cared enough to teach me.


Bryan
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Bryan Roberts
Nashville, TN
tallboyproductions
Audio Engineer, Prod Manager

Dave J

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Re: how i got trained
« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2004, 08:07:37 am »

Experience, Experience, Experience

Familiararity with the system and knowing what freq. will usually start ringing first in a particular room all comes from experience. I know my learning curve was a lot sharper when I was at my church by myself rather than with my friend at his church the night before with a gig he was in charge of. Sitting behind a 52 channel Series 5 with good help was always easier than the next morning on the 32 channel LX7 alone with all eyes focussed on you as that one freq. started ringing from who knows where and you frantically try to locate the source and extinguish it.

You want him to learn. Accidentally not show up one week. I did this (I wasn't meaning to) to a future sound person but I kinda knew she could handle it. Something came up and I couldn't be there. The next week I asked her how it went and she wasn't happy that I wasn't there, but she found out that she could do it herself.  Her confidence was definitely boosted. She still didn't know how to fix everything that could go wrong, but she managed to get by. And she knew what she did and didn't know and what to ask next.

Just my pocket change
Dave in ATL
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