Student reviews

Searching For the Lost Chords by Neil Gillard

Last week I lost my virginity � or that's what some of my more experienced partners told me � and, despite being the first time, it was wonderful for me.

I am, of course, referring to my first experience of the Sore Fingers Summer School at Kingham Hill School in the Cotswolds, where more than 200 musicians, or intending musicians, met for the 9 th of these inspiring annual events. The sun shone, the music rang out, drowning the magnificent spring birdsong that filled the tranquil grounds of this pastoral setting, and friendships were renewed or forged during a jam packed (pun intended) week.

Despite Moira and John's fears, the organisation seemed smooth enough from this consumer's viewpoint � accommodation was comfortable, food lavish in quantity and cheerfully served by some very hardworking staff, and things mostly ran pretty much to schedule, given the laid back nature of those attending. Morning assembly served to get most people to the right place at approximately the right time, and to deliver the b------ings (tellings off) in a firm but relatively light-hearted manner.

And as for the music � and it was above all a week for music � it was everywhere! In Class sessions, scratch-band practices, the slow jams so ably led by Stuart, the jam sessions in the bar and dining hall at night (on Friday no less than 6 separate sessions plus various other 2s and 3s), not to mention the concerts! The concerts � sorry did someone say not to mention them? The concerts were superb, ranging from Karen and Chuck's autoharp, and Carl and Beverly's fiddle, mandolin, guitar and banjo (so many instruments and voices too!) sessions on Wednesday evening, through the Scratch-bands on Thursday, to the culmination of the week � the Tutors' performance on Friday. The scratch-bands were great � of a very high quality, with some very funny allusions to the place, people and events, as well as the appearance of Champion the Wonder Horse (wonder he didn't fall off the stage!). The Tutors' Concert was, unsurprisingly, outstanding. A world class line-up, and, whether or not they like Blue Grass, no one can have failed to enjoy the variety, range and sheer technical brilliance that was on show. For me, John's "Richmond" was utterly mind blowing.

Memories? Plenty � fun, friendships, beautiful surroundings, and just being around so many talented musicians � both tutors and students. Work to do? Plenty � but with practice, who knows, I may even find some of the right chords at the right time � the notes can come later! Will I be back? You bet cha, see y'all next year. Thanks Sore Fingers � aptly named.

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