Fear not! This rather dry and technical term actually refers to a welcome opportunity to gain more singing confidence. Sectionals are small workshops, rehearsals or get-togethers for your voice section (in other words, the sopranos, altos, tenors or basses), which give you a chance to hammer out the trickier bits of the pieces you’re working on.
Can anyone go?
Absolutely! All voices in a section are welcome, no matter how experienced or not you are. This is a great chance to get to know the other singers in your section and support each other musically, in a more intimate setting than whole choir rehearsals.
What do you do?
Generally your voice rep will have already highlighted bits where they have noticed your section are struggling, or could have discussed this with the conductor, in our case, Calum. With the fortifying help of drinks and nibbles, we focus on the parts that need work using choral aids such as Cyberbass, Choraline, or our very own ones (with thanks to Noel!). If you’re lucky, the sectional will take place in someone’s home with a keyboard or piano so that someone can bash out the notes for you to concentrate on. A metronome (digital or an old-fashioned tick-tock one) is also really helpful. Vanessa, alto voice rep, describes sectionals as “absolutely not compulsory, but they are great for improving your confidence, picking up tips from others and getting to know everyone”.
How will a sectional help me?
Personally I’ve found they are a huge boost to my musical confidence. I realised that I’m not the only one who has missed bits, got words or notes wrong! You can learn so much from more experienced members: tips on reading music, finding difficult jumps between notes, keeping time and so on, all in a completely non-judgemental atmosphere. As Barbara, the soprano voice rep says, “Sectionals are a boost to new members finding their way at whatever their singing level”.
An audible difference
Even if only a few people attend each one, having a few more confident voices really helps to “carry” the section when you all sing together again. There is nothing more rewarding than hearing Calum say, “Well done basses* (sopranos/tenors/altos - delete as appropriate!) - have you had a sectional?”. Barbara agrees, “Sectionals really help with last minute ‘fiddly bits’ making us concert ready”.
So don’t be shy! If you haven’t already been invited to a sectional, find out from your voice rep when the next one is and go along. More singing fun in great company - what’s not to like?