How to keep a clean and uncluttered church stage
It is our job as audio engineers to help facilitate worship. We show up early, we work hard, we focus our ears on the mix and are constantly thinking about what is being heard. However, the works of our hands are not only in what’s heard, but also what’s seen. A messy stage distracts the eye and can also be a hindrance when troubleshooting a problem.
Label Everything. When prepping for rehearsal, I always have two things with me, white electrical tape (I call it ‘lecky tape), and a sharpie. Before plugging in a microphone or a direct box, I take the XLR cable, and wrap both ends two or three times with tape. I then label the cable on both ends so I know what that cable is going to connect to. That way, I can quickly identify cables at the floor box and know their destination.
90 degree angles. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a 12 channel floor box with 12 XLR cables all going different directions. It clutters up the stage and it’s an eyesore. Combine as many cables as you can so they travel along a single path, and when they split out to the desired location, they do so at a right angle. For example, when setting up a wired microphone for a worship leader, I will run the cable from the mic down the boom stand and immediately to the right, then after a couple of feet, it makes a 90 degree turn towards the back of the stage.
How many of our stages look like this? Cables lying everywhere, and I guarantee that someone is going to trip on the worship leader’s vocal cable, that is, if the drummer doesn’t trip over one of the cables that’s connected to his drum mics first. However, with audio cables running along a single path and joining the group at right angles, then not only does this look really nice, but I promise you that the band will notice and appreciate it.
Lastly, tape it down. Black Gaff tape is your best friend. Tape down every cable with a short 4-5 inch strip. You want to do it every 6 feet along the run, and at every right angle. No one will trip on a mic cable again if you tape it down. Using the same stage plot as above, I’ve illustrated where the best spots to put gaff would be, using blue marks.
Being intentional about how you run cables in this way will take about 15% longer, but it’s absolutely worth the extra work. Everything you do to serve the worship team (and the church) is an act of worship. Be intentional, push for excellence, and don’t offer up anything you’re not proud of.
By Jordan Tracy, UMC, Church Of The Resurrection, Leawood Kansas