Snow Drops Update - Feb 23

10th Feb 2023


ingers Week 2023 – 10th to 14th April, 2023
Arrive Sunday 9th - Depart Saturday 15th
Kingham Hill School – Chipping Norton – Oxfordshire – OX7 6TH

Speaking of snowdrops, they’re not quite out yet up here on our hill. I guess it’s no surprise considering the glacial conditions we’ve endured in the past weeks.
Bookings are coming in steadily though perhaps a little more slowly than we’d like in view of our financial recovery plans, but I guess we need to be patient as the general situation is difficult for many. However, with each month that passes, the situation is sure to improve.
A huge thank you goes to all the students who have booked and pledged their support to the event by booking early.
If you have deferred your booking from 2020 or 2022, please get in touch as soon as possible to register for the 2023 event.


At the foot of the booking form, there is a strong recommendation encouraging students to take out holiday insurance to protect against a situation where you cannot attend the course due to circumstances outside of your control. Please read the cancellation clauses under Terms & Conditions for more details about cancellations and timescales. T&Cs are on the back of your booking form.

Several students who were caught out by COVID last Easter successfully claimed their course fees and travel expenses and were re-imbursed in full by their insurance companies. We know of only one unsuccessful claim, and this was due to lack of supporting evidence so please make sure you have proof of all circumstances relating to your situation.

In the first instance make sure you take out insurance, average cost is less than £10.00.
You might also check your bank, many offer perks such as Holiday Insurance with current accounts.

Second, if you cannot attend due to ill health, accident or other, make sure you register your illness with a doctor by getting a note to confirm your illness. Where required, SFSS will provide evidence that you have paid for the course and not been able to attended. But make sure you have all angles covered with the appropriate evidence to ensure your claim is met in full.
Sore Fingers Summer Schools Ltd will always take a pragmatic view of your circumstances but we cannot accept every claim for a refund where adequate insurance would have covered your non-attendance.

Tutor News

We’re still on the hunt for a second banjo tutor and we’ll make an announcement as soon as we’ve concluded our search. We are still waiting for confirmation of availability from some prospective candidates.
Last Sunday, I took a trip down to Portsmouth to see the Lonesome Ace String Band featuring two of our brilliant tutors, Chris Coole and the fantastic John Showman. It’s a great show and punctuated with songs reminiscent of seventies group “The Band”. I mentioned this to Chris, and he took it as a compliment! The tour is over now but we can relish the fact that John and Chris will be back with us very soon.

Emily Smith, who kindly makes the tea in between quick drop ins to class spent some time with John at Banjo Camps North last summer. Here’s Emily’s review of the proceedings:

Fiddle fireworks: John Showman at Banjo Camps North – teaching review

I absolutely can’t wait until Thursday when the Lonesome Ace String Band come within striking distance of London. I love the band and am a huge fan of John Showman’s fiddle playing. In May of last year I was lucky enough to get out to the US and attended Banjo Camps North, just outside of Boston. Although the camp was focussed on banjo tuition, they had arranged for John Showman to teach the fiddle track for the fiddle players who turned up and I was very lucky to be one of them.

For anyone who has heard the Lonesome Ace String Band, live or recorded, John’s fiddle playing needs no introduction. Vibrant, intense and spectacular and all firmly within the idiom of old-time music. For me, it’s like listening to old-time fiddle fireworks. As he takes hold of a tune he’ll drive it along, throwing in tiny almost imperceptible variations that make you prick up your ears whilst holding down a perfect rhythm and remaining true to the tune’s source.

But it’s not just the quality of the playing. The quality of John’s teaching is also fantastic. At banjo camps north John taught a range of fiddle students, from children and older beginner players to competent players wanting to improve their technique and widen their repertoire. He managed to give a great deal to each of us using different teaching techniques. He taught a number of fabulous tunes, using them as a vehicle to explore different bowing patterns and showing us how to draw out old time pulses in our playing.

He also spent time with each of us in the lessons giving us hints and tips that would improve our individual playing. I learnt a huge amount from this process, not just in the guidance that he gave me personally but also in the guidance that he gave others and how I could apply that to my own playing.

Finally, along the series of workshops he also provided a ‘toolkit’ of practice tools which included a series of metronome exercises to get into the groove of a tune and methods for improving tuning, particularly on drones in closed position.

I would highly recommend any fiddle player to attend John’s course at Sore Fingers this April. The Banjo Camps North camp runs on a ‘drop in’ workshop basis, and even in this context I feel like I have received a lifetime’s homework and inspiration. I’m really looking forward to dropping into as much of John’s class as possible in April and enjoying the inevitable ‘fiddle fireworks’ in the tutor concerts ………. in-between making everyone cups of tea of course!

Review by Emily Smith

Rail Strikes!

The threat of rail strikes continues to hit the news headlines and we cannot ignore the risk this poses to travel arrangements around Sore Fingers Week at Easter. Action is normally announced a couple of weeks before so it’s hard to predict when and where the disruption will hit.

Naturally, we’ll be keeping an eye on things and see where we can help mitigate the problem.

One thing we can do collectively is to offer lifts where you have space in your vehicle. If you contact us, we’ll prepare a register of volunteers and publish it on this message board and people needing a lift can get in touch ahead of the event. Travellers seeking lifts should be prepared to contribute towards fuel costs which should be an incentive for people to come forward to offer lifts.

In the meantime, we’ll keep an eye on the news and subsequently keep you informed as well.

Event Sponsors

Every year, a number of organisations and individuals make a contribution to our sponsor student fund to assist those on low incomes to attend a course at Sore Fingers Week.
We are pleased to announce the following have made contributions in 2022/23:
- Phil Davidson Instruments
- Slim Jim Banjos
- The British Bluegrass Music Association
- UK Autoharps
- Gower Bluegrass Festival
- Daddario Strings

Additionally: several individuals have kindly sent private donations Despite the current economic situation.
Much of the funding we have received has already been allocated for 2023 but hopefully we will be able to carry a certain amount over into 2024. The fund is carefully ringfenced to keep it intact and not used for any other purpose than funding the attendance of students.
Many grateful thanks to all who have donated.

Scratch Bands

I can see 25 names so far on the Scratch Band Registration Database.
Please try to register in advance as this really saves the scratch band team a lot of time. Here’s the link to the
Scratch Band Registration Form which is password protected as detailed below.
Login: is as follows:
User: “members23”
Password: “SBRFEs23”

If you are coming for the first time and don’t know what we are blithering about, please check the “Experience” page of the website and the sections headed Scratch bands, Student Concert and Non-Performing Scratch Bands”. All is revealed at this link:!

We’ve found another nice bit of video this time featuring our Singing Tutor kathy Kallick and Fiddle Tutor Annie Staninec. Alongside doing a fine job on the banjo, is Greg Booth who taught Dobro a few years ago. Lovely number! Here’s the link:
And Mar Stoffel’s “Shadowbands”. Absolutely lovely and features Gina Furtado on Banjo. .
Here are some useful links and a reminder of the complete line up for now.
Detailed Bios are on the website (see link below).
BANJO 2 – Recruiting, T.B.A. shortly
More details, booking forms and tutor bios at this link:
We have loads of useful information on the website and you might like to read the following web pages for insight:
The “Experience” page describes both the classroom experience and all the extra-curricular activities:
The “What Course Should I Go On” if you are a little confused as to which class would best suit your musical needs:
Check the “FAQ’s” page for answers to general and practical questions such as “What should I bring?”, etc:
Follow this link to get a daily schedule of activities:

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