Sore Fingers Summer Schools

Just about the best musical experience you can have!  Folks come from miles away, even from the U.S.A.  to take part.  The event is held at Kingham School in the Cotswolds every Easter.  The five day residential course (covering all instruments and vocals) is staffed mostly by the best of the American Bluegrass and Old Time musicians.  The week offers a chance to play in a band, and to perform in a concert, and a chance to go to some of the best concerts you will ever see.
Go to the Sore Fingers web site

The 25th Sore Fingers Week


13th - 17th Apr 2020



and enthusiasm seems as strong as ever! 

We’ve come a long way since 1996. Thanks to all of you, Sore Fingers Week is firmly implanted in the Annual Calendar of Acoustic Music Camps. This is an achievement we can all be proud of.

At the outset the original aim was to offer a music camp worthy of its name on this side of the Atlantic to facilitate the Bluegrass and Old Time followings in Britain and Europe. We had little idea that we could eventually run an event good enough to rival some of the best camps held in North America.


Over the years, we have watched, listened and made changes leading to improvements and been careful to not try and fix things that are not broken. Evolution not Revolution as the saying goes".


One thing that will never change is the determination to maintain high standards and bring along the best possible tutors we can. Sore Fingers Week 2019 will be no different and the tutor line up will be as exciting as ever! See the tutor list and news page to keep up to date with developments.


We strongly recommend you read some of the information available on this website and in particular “The Experience” page which will give you an overview of what happens during the week. As you will see, the programme is very full and so this is a useful read if you are thinking of coming for the first time.


If you are a little undecided about which course you should take, a new page has been introduced called “What Course Should I go On”. That will help you to decide whether to enrol onto a main class or choose a beginners level. But, don’t forget that Sore Fingers Week is about improving your skills and don’t be afraid to move up from your comfort zone, you need to be challenged! 


On a practical note, accommodation space (Both in the Campus Grounds for tents and caravans and in the School House Accommodation Blocks) has been gradually shrinking in recent years as a result of developments the School have been making. Early booking therefore is highly recommended if you want to be sure to get what you want and be able to stay on site to benefit from the full "Sore Fingers Experience". Also, some courses book up faster than others.


FACEBOOK: whilst we have a presence on Facebook, we are actively trying to promote the Sore Fingers Private Email Distribution Forum to put our students in touch with each other. This avoids sharing these very specific communications with all and sundry and risking information getting buried under less relevant topics. If you want to know where the other Bluegrass/Old Time pickers are in your local area for instance - Ask on the Forum. Check out the forum page of the website to join and find out more.


We look forward to seeing you at Easter-time.


John, Moira and the Team


Classes and tutors


Class    Tutor    No. places

AUTOHARP    Les Gustafson-Zook    20

BANJO 1    Ned Luberecki    20

BASS    Missy Raines    20

BLUEGRASS FIDDLE    Becky Buller    20

DOBRO    Mike Witcher    20

GUITAR 1    Peter McLaughlin    20

GUITAR 2    Ross Martin    20

MANDOLIN 1    Mike Compton    20

OLD TIME BANJO    Chris Coole    20

OLD TIME FIDDLE 1    Dirk Powell    20

OLD TIME FIDDLE 2    Rachel Eddy    20

SINGING    Dede Wyland    20

SONG-WRITING    Wil Maring    20

IMPROVISATION    Andy MacKenzie    20


GUITAR/MANDOLIN    Charlotte Carrivick    

FIDDLE/DOBRO    Laura Carrivick    

BANJO/BASS    John Breese    

Latest release from the SF team

Sore Fingers Week’s 25th Birthday, April 2020!


When Sore Fingers Week started back in 1996, the concept of the music camp was already well established in the United states and today, there are over a thousand of these residential type workshops every year in North America.  At the time, there were few camps emulating that concept in the British Isles and Sore Fingers was about twenty five years behind the most successful camps.  So, it seemed like an experiment to launch Sore Fingers Week on unsuspecting British Bluegrass scene back then.

We needn’t have worried, it was a success pretty well from the start and from humble beginnings with just three courses, it grew to include all the instruments found in Bluegrass and very soon afterwards, Old Time String Band music.  2020 marks the 25th Sore Fingers Week and we now offer upwards of seventeen courses every Easter as well as an October weekend offering up to twelves classes.

More recently we have decided to expand our horizons and we are introducing new classes, in particular, “Improvisation” which aims to help students put their instrumental technique into practice when composing or music making.  This is an area we’d hope top develop and bring about lots of creativity for the music.  More original music, more adventurous arrangements, Bluegrass is an art from that needs new ideas and evolution.

That’s not to denigrate the tradition, one must never forget where it all came from and there always will be those who keep that tradition alive.  And don’t be fooled that it is only the older people, we have several young bands playing Traditional Bluegrass on the scene today.

For the historians, there is lots of information on our website - - including a page that tells the Sore Fingers Story from the beginnings.  Today, we are proud to be considered one of the top camps in the world in terms of quality and we attribute that to the hard work of the tutors we bring across the Atlantic to teach.  Bluegrass and Old Time music have their roots in the Southern Mountains of the USA and when it come the best people to teach this music, only the genuine article will cut the mustard!  We have played host to nearly 150 individuals from the USA supported by some of most talented UK based musicians.

Bluegrass and Old Time String Band music is played mostly informally and is also very socially inclusive.  Sore Finger Week accommodates students from all walks of life and ages.  Our classes are focussed on participation and a message we drum into our tutors is “make them do it!”.  Students are also given the opportunity to form into bands and perform in the Student Concert on a fully equipped stage with sound system and stage lights, a total “theatre” experience.  For many this is the highlight of the week.  All the band are mentored right up to their stage performance by a dedicated team.   It’s not just fun, it is an integral part of the course.

Naturally with so many great musicians in one place, they get to perform several showcase concerts and close out the event on the final day.  Some of the collaborations produce some of the most blistering music one might see all year!  A real treat but, to see them, you have to there, no recordings, no streaming, only an S.F. Week student gets to witness these unique concerts.

One of the real successes of Sore Fingers Week is the support – the BBMA have been regular sponsors - we’ve been able to give to young musicians and get them to attend the event and benefit from the influence of the best players in the world.  Some have since forged professional careers and I have to mention current super-band Midnight Skyracer who have been making waves in the UK and also across the Atlantic too.  Several of the band members cut their teeth at Sore Fingers Week and have graduated and now teach there!  The band have played some of the most prestigious festivals in the UK and were the recipients of a nomination from America’s leading Bluegrass Music association, the International Bluegrass Music Association.  Quite an achievement for a UK based band.

To many readers, this press release will be preaching to the converted.  But, there are many BBMA members who’ve never been to Sore Fingers and to celebrate our 25th event, we’d love to see some new faces at Kingham Hill School next Easter.  It’s an experience one should try even if it’s only once.  And to close out a total myth, you don’t have to be good to attend, it’s aimed at people who want to learn.  So, if you think your playing stinks, take the plunge and you are likely to come out of the week with a new outlook and lots to practice to improve.  And, there nothing like a face to face lesson with someone who has lived the real deal, an American Bluegrass or Old Time musician.

Finally, we have promoted and atmosphere of collaboration and achievement, there no room for elitists, over the week, a strong community builds that spills over into the summer festival season.  We’ve seen many S.F. students gather at festivals and meet up for a pick, the community lives on.

Moira and I have been involved with acoustic music for most of our lives, playing at folk clubs , running them, members of bands, Bluegrass and Old Time, organising a festival (Didmarton for 15 years), a pretty full on experience.  But all pale into insignificance when put up against Sore Fingers Week.  That’s where we’ve seen the best sessions, the best concerts and the happiest people year after year.  It’s the best musical experience we know.  One cannot tell you what its really like, you have to dive in, get there and see for yourself.

What ever your background, if you enjoy the company of musicians and want to learn some of the astonishing techniques practised by Bluegrass players, Sore Fingers is the place for you.  And last word, it’s massive fun too! 

Sore Fingers Week 2020 – 13th  to 17th April, 2020 – 01373 813590

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