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Letter to the Music Minister

Music Minister,

I’ve spoken with many music leaders in many different churches. The comments they have seem to be very much the same at the end of the day. Everyone wants their music program to be enjoyable and sound great. In addition, they don’t want the congregation to be simply watching a performance of music, they want the congregation to be actively involved in the service.

A church sanctuary is an instrument. If the instrument has been well designed and built, a well-trained musician can make it sound great. If the instrument isn’t very good, even a master can’t make it sound good. (At the same time, a good instrument played by someone who doesn’t know how to play it won’t sound that great either.) Someone who owns a quality instrument takes care of it and is proud to use it on a regular basis. Such an instrument makes rehearsing and playing music with it enjoyable and even beautiful. A poor instrument limits what the musician can do, regardless of the person’s talent.

Having a church sanctuary that simply shields the congregation from the outside noise and weather is nice, but wouldn’t it be nice if the room made your congregation of 150 people sound like 300? Wouldn’t it be nice if your 50-person choir sounded like 100? What if the congregation were able to learn a new chorus or hymn in only one or two weeks rather than over the course of a couple months?

A proper acoustical environment can do these things and more. It can make congregational singing full and alive, with good intelligibility it can help people learn songs faster. The choir and small groups of singers and soloists can sound vibrant and alive!

Whether you’ve lived with the poor acoustics in your church sanctuary for a few weeks, months, or 30, 40, even 50 or more years, there’s no reason to continue living with it that way.

Echoes produced from strong reflections, storage of sound energy, the wrong reverberation time, and poor frequency response of the room will all degrade both your ability and the congregations ability to sing or make music that actually sounds musical and is enjoyable to do.

With proper acoustics and the proper audio system design and installation, your audio system will be a creative tool you can use, rather than just a bunch of electronics that makes noise.

Are you aware that if your church sets back the thermostat in winter or advances it in summer that you’re actually reducing the life of your piano, organ, and sound system? Not only that, but if you don’t have a humidifier and dehumidifier, the effects are worse and can actually reduce your gain before feedback 15 or 20 minutes into your worship service.


A concerned Christian and church audio/acoustics professional

-Blake Engel,
All Church Sound