The September 2016 issue of Choral Journal is online and features an article titled “A Guide to Improving Student-Led Section Rehearsals” by Felicia Mulé, James Robison, and Ryan Kelly. You can read it in its entirety at acda.org/choraljournal. Following is a portion from the article.
Many high school and college choirs hold section rehearsals that are directed by student leaders. These sectionals can be very beneficial to choirs. They offer focused opportunities for sections to study their own vocal lines and build singer independence. Student-led sectionals can also generate greater ownership of the music making and esprit de corps within sections.
Conversely, student-run sectionals can present challenges; productivity can be low, singers’ participation reluctant, and leaders’ direction heavy-handed or listless. Most sectionals can improve. Student leaders can employ a number of strategies to help them lead better and understand the needs of their sections. Likewise, teachers can take steps to guide their leaders with greater direction and oversight. This article’s goal is to offer both students and teachers strategies for improving their choirs’ sectionals so that they are more productive, musical, and unifying experiences for singers.
What Are Effective Section Rehearsals?
Sectionals can occur in different ways. Conductors sometimes schedule them at the beginning of a rehearsal calendar (i.e., early in a semester) to help sections start learning their parts independently, or they might schedule them in the middle of that calendar to teach part-specific vocal techniques. Sectionals sometimes occur in lieu of a regularly scheduled full choir rehearsal; alternatively, they might be weekly “extra” rehearsals scheduled at another time of day. Regardless of their frequency, sectionals should have three common goals:
• Sectionals should be productive.
Singers should sing more confidently when they leave. They should not leave the sectional having wasted their time.
• Sectionals should be musical.
Singers should sing more expressively when they leave. They should not leave the sectional simply having “woodshed” pitches.
• Sectionals should be unifying.
Singers should leave feeling a stronger bond with their fellow singers, not feeling disgruntled or discouraged.
Read the rest of this article in the September 2016 issue of Choral Journal online at acda.org/choraljournal