Second in a series of guest posts from Dan Aiello, Music Director of Clovis Hills Community Church
Week in and week out, churches have one main goal: make their message heard as clearly as possible. Nearly every modern church has some form of live music taking place, from a single musician on a guitar or piano all the way up to massive teams that can rival the size of many touring groups.
Churches face unique challenges when creating a dynamic musical environment. For one, their physical buildings can vary widely. Many have their own permanent facilities, which come in all shapes and sizes (and acoustic challenges), while other teams set up and tear down in rented auditoriums, gyms, and schools week in and week out. Church budgets are just as varied as the places they meet in, with many teams unable to afford upgrades to antiquated gear. One common challenge across the board, however, tends to be stage volume. Team leaders can find themselves engaged in a tug-of-war between their musicians, their sound engineers, and their congregation, with everyone seeing a different picture of what they would like to hear.
Making the move to in-ear monitoring addresses a myriad of issues that are common in many church environments. Our church, Clovis Hills Community Church of Clovis, CA, made the switch to in-ear monitoring for our entire team several years ago and never looked back. With a roster of over 40 musicians and a congregation of roughly 1500 per week, we were looking to solve several key problems that our team had been running into over the years.
Here are the three biggest takeaways we’ve found:
1. In-ear monitoring helped us drastically clean up our house mix.
Floor wedges were always a major battle for our team. We were limited in the number of mixes we could produce by how many amps we were willing to purchase. Due to this, we would have to have certain members share wedges and mixes, which inevitably led to the “more of me” problem: each member of the team fights for “more of me” in the wedge to hear themselves clearly, to the point where stage noise became unbearable. Switching to in-ears gave each team member their own personalized mix and allowed us to regain control over our room.
2. In-ear monitoring opened us up to new creative opportunities.
This may have been our favorite part of making the switch. By placing the entire team on in-ears, we were able to add several new creative elements to our weekend experience. We started by moving the entire band to click tracks, which helped create musical consistency and allowed us to add additional backing loops to fill out our mix. Over time, we were able to allow the technical team to communicate live with the band, which has been an incredible blessing and helps service run smoother. Finally, we added a live music director on stage who can speak to the musicians live and help keep transitions and different musical moments feeling incredible.
3. In-ear monitoring has helped save our musicians’ hearing.
Let’s face it - a live band is LOUD. Our building is very “cavernous”, with lots of natural echo and slapback. Adding live drums and guitar amps only adds to the noise reverberating around the room, and by the time we added floor wedges in the mix, the levels could feel downright painful to our teams after several hours of rehearsal and performance. With proper in-ear monitors (and we REALLY want to emphasize “proper”; your little white earbuds were not designed for this!), our musicians are able to listen to the elements of the mix that they need to hear at volume levels that are much safer than without headphones.
Once you make the switch to in-ear monitoring, you will wonder how you managed without them! Many of our members have made the switch to UE Pro custom IEMs, while the rest are using Universal IEMs. Ultimate Ears offers many different solutions to fit your taste and budget. Take the plunge and switch to in-ear monitoring—your ears will thank you.