Scott Harrison is the Worship/Creative Arts Pastor at Midway Church in Pilot Point, TX.
Scott oversees all house audio and video, the church website, advertising, and all communications for Midway Church. He is also an accomplished songwriter with a ton of recording credits. We spoke to Scott about using Ultimate Ears in an HOW [House of Worship] setting. His answers were very enlightening to us.
Can you tell us some of the benefits of using UE’s in a HOW setting?
Using in-ear monitors is probably most beneficial to the FOH engineer. There's no headache like a house mix that can’t be fixed because stage volume is more influential than it should be. So, a better overall house mix will happen when using in ear monitors. UE’s are simply the best sounding, safest and reliable monitors I’ve ever used.
Ear fatigue is reduced when using in ear monitors at reasonable levels. Most newer monitor systems are equipped with limiting capabilities so it’s easy to protect your ears.
It’s also a great aid for communication; the band can stay on the same page with verbal commands or with a click track by using isolating in ear monitors, and UE’s are the absolute best.
Hey Scott, Thanks for taking the time to speak with us. Can you tell us a little about your background in music?
When I was a child I discovered I could hear a song, then step to the piano and play it. One note at a time, but the melody was easy to recall and expound on. My parents decided to enroll me in piano lessons as a child, but it didn’t go well because I simply learned the song and then put my own touches on the songs. Needless to say, I moved on.
I learned the guitar as a teenager, and also picked up the trumpet as a high school freshman and earned First Chair All District the same year, much to the frustration of some very cruel upperclassmen. From 10th grade on I was homeschooled and played sports.
When I went to college, I discovered my singing voice and was basically bribed into trying out for the touring (scholarshipped) choir and made it. In the meantime I began helping my worship team out on the weekends I traveled home, and eventually became the worship leader of my church. I play every stage instrument (drums, bass, keys, acoustic, electric guitar) and will, at the drop of a hat, trade with any member of my team at any time!
25 years later, I’ve had the honor to have been worship leader at churches from 120 to 12,000 and still love what I do! It is about making high level and high-quality music; but so much more than that it’s about leading people and seeing them become more than they ever thought they could be. My greatest joy is seeing someone with a desire to learn become a good musician and give that gift back to God.
Can you tell us a little about the history Midway Church?
Midway is a church that has only in the last 10 years, moved away from a traditional service model to a purely contemporary format. Planted in 1977, Midway Baptist Church was a part of the Baptist Bible Fellowship (an affiliation of fundamental baptist churches in the U.S.). The move to contemporary church style is not without it’s pains, but overall we’ve been blessed. In the last 7 years Midway has doubled in membership to more than 1000. Our area is exploding with growth and we’re expecting continued growth in the nexts 10 years.
How did you discover Ultimate Ears?
I met Rick Muchow at the National Worship Leader’s Conference in Kansas City MO back a few years ago and we’ve become good friends. His affiliation with UE was the catalyst to the use of UE’s. When my main set of monitors became outdated I began searching for the best fit for me, and I’ve been VERY pleased with my UE7’s.
How do you use In-Ear Monitor in your HOW setting?
When we arrived at Midway they were just making the transition to a contemporary style so it was really a first-level change to a quiet stage. We began using the AVIOM system and successfully integrating it into how we accomplished church services there. Since then we’ve gone total digital, and currently, use a P16 system that we like very well. We love a “quiet” stage; what that means is a stage we can fully control. We enclose the percussion and put all amps in isolation, and that allows us to better control FOH audio as well as a positive stage environment.
What are some of the challenges of using in-ears in your situation?
For most new musicians or musicians who are not familiar with In-Ear monitors, it can be a struggle. It really takes a patient and engaged leader that guides musicians to become comfortable with using these In-Ear systems. What I see over and over again is that with some planning, some pre-rehearsal time and some TLC makes all the difference.
Another challenge is technology. Smaller churches that struggle for budget for upgrades have an additional hurdle to get over. However, this equipment continues to become more affordable and more of the “norm”. With the proper leadership or expertise, challenges can easily be overcome.
Part of your job must be about inspiring the musicians you are working with? How do you do that in an HOW setting?
Wow. My favorite question. I inspire them to be the inspiration. Our job is simply to RESPOND to God with our gifts and talents. The creator of the universe deserves our best, our greatest. Our “job” is to inspire people to see the greatness of God and to shine.
What I want to do each and every week, is to put each musician and singer in the greatest position to achieve a win. Defining the win as great songs done with great skill and passion that inspires the greatest response. Some days it’s a quiet room (sleepy people lol), and other days it’s easy and loud! But always, our focus is vertical; us looking, singing, worship and lifting God.
What are some ways to help make the transition to In Ears easier for musicians?
I believe that as a leader, it’s our job to create a winning environment, especially when working with volunteers. They’re giving up family time and taking other valuable time to prepare to volunteer. Our job is to do the thinking work upfront.
I’ve learned that when you make musicians comfortable, you usually get their best. Two of my musicians (drummer and bassist) are touring players, guys who are incredibly gifted. I’ve witnessed them literally coming off the road at 6am on Sunday morning right onto our stage. It’s usually at those moments when they are at their best; they’re bodies are exhausted but their spirits are on fire. They’re tired, but incredibly comfortable because they know that I know what's going on and I’m ready for the challenge. It’s usually those days when they take it to another level.
Here are the steps I would take when transitioning a team to an in-ear monitor system.
- Do the homework - As the leader, it’s my job to become an expert on the new equipment, read up on possible challenges and resolutions, and to make sure that it’s not a one-man show.
- Lead thru Tech - The technicians should be equally ready for the shift. Look for opportunities to have demonstration meetings with them and brief them on the challenges for musicians making the transition. Help them with any videos, reading material and/or a PERSON that can be ready to answer questions and help overcome challenges.
- Pre-rehearsal time - Make sure that the team has time to play around with the systems that they’ll be using. Talk to them about their monitors. Share experiences, tricks, and fixes, and also help them see the benefits of using these new tools.
- Rehearsal and Fix-it - Make SURE to have plenty of time to work thru an actual rehearsal and service practice. Using things like click tracks can take some time to get used to. Some musicians REALLY struggle with the regimentation so be patient and ready to help.
- Evaluation - Do the after-action report with yourself and your team. Discuss the good and bad, and walk thru even the individual challenges. Celebrate the wins, get some attention on the rough spots and move forward!