By Debbie Hardegree
If you don’t usually notice the work of the volunteers Myrna Adams West and the Spiritual Arts Cluster are recognizing in July, that is a good thing! Our crew of sound technicians work hard to make sure that the speaker microphones are set correctly, that the sound levels for any instruments are balanced, and that Reverend Alison’s wireless microphone is transmitting. They set the controls on the soundboard and monitor the service to correct any problems quickly and unobtrusively. It is often challenging to juggle all of the auditory elements involved in a given service, and those with listening difficulties especially need to be able to hear what is being said, or sung, or played, without strain. Most of the sound technicians are not professional sound engineers. Instead they are willing volunteers who have received training. Our sound crew does a great job of enhancing the worship experience for all of us, and this month we recognize and thank them.
Dan Everett is the senior member of the sound crew, having begun serving when this building first opened 24 years ago! A long-time member of UUFA, Dan has trained other sounds techs, including Ray Freeman-Lynde, who has been working the soundboard for at least 10 years. Ray says that it is fun to be involved in the service in this way, and he particularly enjoys working with our musicians.
Julie Sapp has been helping with sound at UUFA for around 6 years. She thinks she was initially trained by Herb Larrick, and has also attended trainings with Brent Litch. As an educational audiologist, Julie has experience with remote mic and classroom amplification systems, but the sound mixing board was new to her. Julie may be the first female sound technician at UUFA. She notes that “When the system is not working, it is a huge strain to hear what is going on, even for folks with normal hearing. Straining to hear detracts from the experience. I cannot process the content of the service deeply if I am straining to make out the words. The acoustics of the room make it difficult in some areas (can we say “choir loft”) even when the system is working, and that is unfortunate. Hopefully that will be improved with changes to the sanctuary during the upcoming building expansion/improvement.”
Brent Litch has been a sound engineer and self-described “electronic genius” for 40 years. He found a spiritual home at UUFA five years ago, and he designed and installed our current sound system. Brent says he noticed the need for a better sound system when he was new to UUFA in 2011 and called Reverent Alison to offer his help. He describes the sound system as a “magnifying glass between the performer and the audience” and says that ideally it should be transparent. Brent has trained our UUFA sound technicians for the last five years.
Ted Mayer has been on the sound crew for around 4 years. He has worked with Brent to learn how to operate the sound system, and he often comes in early to set up the sound board when our bands are playing. Ted has a love of music and wants to help us sound as good as possible!
Austin Childers is one of our newest sound crew members, having been trained around three months ago. He and his wife Kayla have been attending UUFA since 2013. Austin has had experience mixing sound for video in his marketing and communications job, but live mixing was new to him. He thinks “access to the message and music is important for effectively sharing their peace and meaning.”
Audey Lee is also a newer member of the sound crew. She has been attending UUFA since November 2015, and she has already worked sound twice in the past two months. Audey has experience operating a sound board for a few plays. To anyone considering bring trained as a sound technician, she says “If you’re attending services anyway, might as well push some buttons.”
All of our sound technicians encourage anyone with an interest in helping with the Sunday services to consider being trained to work the sound system.
Debbie Hardegree worked with her Volunteer Recognition teammates and with Myrna Adams West to arrange this month’s recognition.