Do you ever wonder “Is it worth it to teach someone young what I do?”
If so, you simply must read this!
Shane Weber and I reconnected a few weeks ago and I was thrilled to learn that something I allowed and encouraged him to explore as a student has become his life-work. I thought you might like to hear the story from his vantage point so asked Shane to capture his thoughts in print. You’re about to read the result.
Thanks, Shane, for taking the time to write this down and granting permission to share it here. I’m glad our paths crossed again !!
This will encourage you, friends. Enjoy!
As a young person I was fortunate to have the opportunity to practice audio and lighting at the church where I was attending. At the ripe old age of 13 I took every opportunity to sit with the technicians in ‘the booth’ to watch and learn. My parents were in the choir so that gave me plenty of time to spend learning every week while they rehearsed on Wednesday nights after AWANA clubs. The foundation of my learning was there, in the fact that the people in the production department took a chance on a young kid that thought he might want to do this thing called audio/video/lighting. They were patient with me and had a plan for how to train and involve interested people in their ministry.
This whetted my appetite and it became insatiable. When we changed churches I immediately started learning more, building upon the basics that had been taught by my previous instructors. I had many people pour into me and teach me not only from their experience in the church, but in the world as well. All my teachers saw in me three things; 1) a desire to learn, 2) an aptitude for the task, and 3) an open availability for any project.
It was about five years after my first production experience that I was challenged by my high school guidance counselor to decide what I wanted to do for the next 20 years. As I thought about it I came back to the rush of the live production and the challenge of figuring out how to do bigger and better and still survive. That was when I said, ‘I want to be an Audio Engineer, more specifically a Recording Engineer.’
School followed, and there I learned not only a tremendous amount of technical information and gained hands on experience, but also learned a very important lesson that I still use and learn from, which is this, “No one knows who is going to be good or bad by just looking. You can be phenomenal at what you do, but there will always be someone better than you. Give everyone a chance, albeit a controlled chance, but a chance nonetheless.” When the 14 year old spike-haired kid comes up and says, ‘Can I learn from you?’ You have to be ready to say, ‘Sure kid, pull up a chair’ AND MEAN IT!
Seeing potential is difficult, and not everyone is good enough for your ‘A Team’ but if they are not given a chance they can never know how good or bad they really are. I try to look for desire first and then figure out how they can best help my team.
So… where is the best place to look? Try looking directly behind you. That person who is consistently standing over your shoulder looking at what you or your video or lighting guy is doing is usually interested (personal experience). The person who is staring holes in the back of your head as you mix the music, or the person who comes up before and after the service to ‘just check it out’ are great candidates for exploration. It is not always the place to find the perfect candidate, but it is a good starting point.
Another excellent place is your junior high and high school meetings. There are younger people there who have a great ear for music and a great aptitude for all things techie. Let’s face it, everything is going digital and our world is no different. Those who know computers and have an ear for musicality can be years ahead of the ‘old schoolers’ that many teams have.
I found out early that I was very adept at doing production work and have continued learning and practicing to this day. The start of all this was the willingness of someone to see me not as a little kid but as a potential contributor. We will not survive long if we do not each find that ‘person behind us’. If we will find them, recognize their potential and bring them along, we will last longer because we will have a person that will allow us time off for personal health. More importantly, we will have reproduced ourselves in the life of another, leaving them in a great position to carry on and improve upon what we started.
has been the Audio Engineer for in Dallas, TX for 8 years. He also does freelance work as an audio engineer and consultant. If you would like to contact him, please feel free to use the links he’s provided.