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Using Tracks in Worship – Part 2

This is a guest post from Steven Morris. He is a twenty year old student at the University of Nebraska (Kearney) who is passionate about worship.   He works part time at a local photography studio called Chetsy Photography, and volunteers weekly at Kearney eFree Church where he coordinates middle and high school youth groups and events, run tech including sound, light, video, and of course drum! Twitter |  Facebook. Learn how you can contribute here.

In my previous post, I talked about why tracks are important in worship, but today I want to talk about how to use tracks, and some cheap and easy ways to get started.

First, I want to give you an overview of my setup and how I run tracks. My hardware includes:

  • 2.2 Ghz Macbook
  • Lexicon Alpha USB Sound Card
  • Yamaha MG82CX 8-Channel Mixer
  • 4 Channel 1×3 XLR Splitter
  • Aviom 16 Chan Personal Mixer

(I do have another setup for our other worship center, but I figured this would be more common)

Running tracks for me is very simple, I run them inside a free application called qLab.


(click image for a larger view)

This simple application allows me to cue up tracks, set levels for each track, pre and post cue tracks, auto follow, etc.   I use the Lexicon sound card to split my audio out (I don’t recommend using headphone out if you can help it). The “TRACK” side of the MP3 file goes to a direct box, then to the house and the Yamaha mixer, while the “CLICK” side goes to the Yamaha Mixer.

In our sets, the drummer is the only one that hears the click and in retrospect, serves that click out to all the other team members.

Now might be a good time for a little disclaimer.   I think that the drummer is the one to be running these tracks. Some may think that your FOH operator could, but that may not be a great decision.   They can be too far away for signals from the worship leader, and also needs to focus as much as possible on the mix and not have to worry about starting a track.   Some could maybe have keyboardists run tracks, and that could work, but I know that from our experience, we have found that having the drummer run them works best.

There are easier ways to do this, and some free. I have seen people do it from iPods and iTunes, but I recommend testing ahead of time, and having a backup plan. A backup plans goes for any setup!

As I already mentioned in the first post, there are great places for getting tracks to use.   A great community is Bwack’s Forum. Just by searching the forums for your song, you have a good chance of finding a track you can use. If you are unable to find a track, just let the forum community know that your looking for a song. There’s always a chance that someone has it and can post it!

Before you plan to implement any of this, you need to do is discuss this with your worship leader.   Don’t expect to just show up and run tracks that night. Your worship leader needs to prepare the music ahead of time to match the tracks. Not all tracks and music are written the same and the songs might be in different keys as well.

In the end, tracks or not, be sure to always have fun and rock your heart out for Christ, that’s what matters most!

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