SFSS Easter 24 News Update

2nd Jan 2024


Sore Fingers Week 2024 – 8th to 12th April, 2024
Arrive Sunday 7th - Depart Saturday 13th
Kingham Hill School – Chipping Norton – Oxfordshire – OX7 6TH

Happy New Year to everyone! Chris Dignall notified us that it’s just 97 sleeps to Sore Fingers Week 2024! Where does the time go?
This is the long awaited “imminent” update! I originally drafted this in mid-November. Life has been slightly disrupted since then.



Internet Problems

The latest problem has been a change of Internet Service Provider forced upon us by Plusnet ceasing to provide business services. The transfer has been an absolute disaster and though we have managed to restore our connection, there are still some tech issues to resolve. But we should have things settled very soon in January.

So, you can send emails and bookings to the normal address:
Bookings and General Enquiries:

If you sent messages since 19th December and haven’t received an answer, just send us a reminder. If urgent, you can call us on 0781 453 5106 (John) or 0748 086 4947 (Moira).

Billy Strings needs the music development course!

We’re not having you on! A few days before the Xmas celebrations, Andy MacKenzie forwarded a clip of an interview featuring no other than Billy Strings and his reasoning for taking some theory lessons to become a better guitar player.

Absolutely fascinating story and I’ll leave you to check it out yourselves by following this link:

Andy, Mike and Trevor, our S.F. Music development specialists are cooking something up to promote the 2024 class and the fruits of their marketing efforts will appear on the website soon. See below for further information about this class.

Class and Tutor news

There has been a little more tutor shuffling: Unfortunately, Matt Flinner has had to withdraw from teaching next Easter and it took some effort to find a replacement with many candidates already committed over the Easter dates. We’re delighted that Tristan Scroggins has come to the rescue and will be taking the Mandolin class.

As the class is already oversubscribed by about four students, we have Joe Walsh standing by to run a second class. But, to justify the cost of flying him over, we cannot confirm him until we’ve got another 10 firm bookings so, keep the bookings coming.

Once we‘ve confirmed, we’ll contact all mandolin players and let you choose your preferred tutor.

It will not surprise you that all three banjo classes are doing well! Ron’s class has 1 place left, there are just 5 places left with Jeff Scroggins and Allison De Groot’s class has just 3 vacancies. Get in there quick if you want to join one of these classes.

When they are gone, they are gone!

Here is the full class listing as of 2nd January, 2024.

Michael Poole AUTOHARP
Jeffery Scroggins BANJO
Ron Block BANJO
Sam Quintana BASS
Heather Farrell-Roberts BEGINNERS AUTOHARP
Ivan Rosenberg DOBRO
Brian Wicklund FIDDLE
Stash Wyslouch GUITAR
Tristan Scroggins MANDOLIN
Allison DeGroot O T BANJO
Sami Braman OT FIDDLE
Dede Wyland SINGING
Phil Doleman UKULELE

Places are available on all these
classes with banjo classes nearing full as indicated above.

General news about courses

Music Development

Some are slightly mystified about the Music Development class, but the aim is a lot less ambiguous than one might think.

For nearly thirty years, we’ve been teaching technique, how to play your instrument better and overcome bad habits. But there’s a whole world of music beyond technique and all the dexterity in the world will not help you if you don’t play the right notes! Obvious?

This class is ably managed by Andy Mac Kenzie and Mike Pryor who will set you gently on the road to understanding scales, harmony and show you how to become more creative and play imaginative breaks. The course involves some music theory but doesn’t require you to be proficient. Most competent players already know some of the basics although not necessarily aware of it. This class will explain why what you know instinctively works and how you can build on it. You’d be amazed at how being able to count to eight is useful in music theory!

It’s open to any instrument including vocalists. So, give it a go, you’ve got nothing to lose, and experience tells us that most come out totally inspired.

The Beginners Class

Last Easter, we brought in multi-instrumentalist and experienced music teacher Ed Hicks to take on the task of teaching beginners. He is assisted by Peter Earle who is a graduate of Leeds College of music thus making a strong team.

One has much more fun with music when you join others and play in sessions or a band. Most who first pick up a banjo or guitar are prompted by seeing experienced players “sessionning” at festivals or their local bar. Its infectious!

Our approach on the Beginners classes is to set you off very quickly to play alongside other people and understand the basics of being able to join in. The tutors will also focus on basic technique on your chosen instrument and make sure you are not picking up bad habits that could impair your progress later.

We firmly believe the community spirit built up over the week is one of the most productive achievements of the beginners class. Students leave with the confidence to meet up with their classmates at festivals, get together and play in sessions. It’s how just about everybody started. We’ve seen this happen so often.

A five-day course may seem daunting at first sight, but it’s precisely this - the time spent alongside other beginner players - that builds confidence and brings people together getting to know each other and bonding.

Performing and Non-Performing Scratchbands

Roland Emmanuel, our Scratch Band Champion for many years retired form that role last Easter. The core of the new team worked with Roland last year getting to grips with this vital Sore Fingers Week activity. Helen Hutchinson and Dan Watson are jointly taking on the challenge. They are both experienced band members and have the right experience to continue the good work done by Roland and his predecessors.
Sore Fingers Week has staged 28 Student Concerts since it first began, and they quickly moved from being “tentative” rising in standard to a level where the quality of the performances is astonishing considering the short time the bands have to work up to their performances.

Thers’s no other camp in the world with such a programme where the bands are properly mentored and coached to reach these levels.
Two Streams: “Performing “and Non-Performing”

Following some negative feedback about the way the non-performing scratch bands were managed at last Easter’s Sore Fingers, we are taking steps to ensure this is properly managed as advertised. We hold our hands up and accept that things were not as they should have been.

Simply put, “Performing” scratch bands take part in the student concert. “Non-Performing” scratch band do not take part but follow the same mentoring programme and are supervised by experienced musicians to help them practice.

Useful website links

We have loads of useful information on the website and you might like to read the following web pages for insight:

Check out your Easter 2024 tutors and their bios:

The “Experience” page describes both the classroom experience and all the extra-curricular activities. It also includes a comprehensive section about the

Scratch Band 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:

To Register to Participate in the Scratch Band activity:

Link, login and password below to access the protected form.
Login: is as follows:
User: “musician”
Password: “sbands2024”

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