Stage monitoring in schools is often overlooked.
What is it? The short answer is, the ability for those performing on the stage to be able to here a little of themselves, others around them, or playback audio.
Imagine a group of singers on stage in your end of term production. They are singing to a backing track being played back through the P.A. system from CD/Laptop/MP3 player. Without stage monitoring they will only hear the music though the main speakers. If these are setup correctly, these will be in front of the performers, facing the audience, so, they will not hear a direct sound, more an indirect signal with ambience from the hall reflections. This will make it hard to hear for timing and pitching to.
The answer is to have some sort of stage monitoring system. This will allow the P.A. operator to feed the backing track to a second set of speakers on the stage facing the singers. Most moving desks will have a facility to do this using an auxiliary output. Now at last they have what they need for timing and pitch, they could of course have other microphones fed into this signal path including their own if desired. This monitor path is separate to the main P.A. feed coming out of the front speakers so levels (volumes) can be controlled independently.
The simplest form of these would be a pair of ‘wedge’ monitors on the hall stage (or floor) facing the performer(s). This is a traditional way of placing the monitors as they can moved around easily. The downside would be them perhaps getting in the way of things on the stage or indeed the poor child who sits on one thinking its a chair and dents the speaker grill. Another solution is to have the speakers mounted above the stage facing down, or at the sides facing in. At the top end of the market, wireless in-ear monitors are all the rage as the monitor levels can be lower and individually mixed….these are perhaps a little too expensive for schools though and require more setup time.
Downsides to stage monitors: If you feed too many live microphones from the stage into the monitor path you run the risk of feedback (see our feedback tips page). Also, if you run them too loud generally, even with just a backing track playing through them, it will change the general forward-facing (Front of House) sound in the hall. With careful setup and some training these are easily avoided and the plus points are huge. Please contact us for more information on what equipment you might need and setup/installation advice.