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Thread: Sore Fingers Summer School 2014

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    Default Sore Fingers Summer School 2014

    Sore Fingers Summer School 2014

    As a Café member, I thought I would give a brief report on the recently concluded Sore Fingers Summer School in Kingham, England. This was my first time to attend. It’s a long way, unless you are already in England or Europe (as I was), so there could be costs involved in getting there. But that said, if you have the chance to go, do it. It was absolutely the best week of music I’ve experienced. Why? Here are some reasons.

    First, the instructors are terrific. The mandolin teacher this year was Joe Walsh, and he was superb. We learned not just songs, but also concepts and approaches to mastering our instrument that went beyond specific tunes. Other instructors this year included Brian Wicklund (fiddle), Grant Gordy (guitar), Rachel Eddy (old-time banjo), Erynn Marshall (old-time fiddle), Bruce Molsky (old-time fiddle), Tony Furtado (bluegrass banjo), Orrin Starr (guitar), Julie Elkins (bluegrass banjo), and Ben Sommers (bass), just to name some of the other teachers you may know. Apologies for those I’ve left out. They are not only excellent players, but terrific teachers as well.

    Second, each day consisted of about 5 hours of instrument workshops in digestible segments (with 20 students per class), band practice (discretionary, and both performing and non-performing), discretionary workshops (e.g., music theory; swing playing), evening concerts of various kinds (by tutors the first three nights), and picking until all hours. Oh yeah, there were meals and sleeping squeezed in!

    Third, the next to last night there was a concert by the student performing bands (aka “scratch bands”), attended by all 300 folks at the event. It was joyous! Friday, there was a tutor concert, with all tutors participating in different configurations and making great music. The sound system was flawless.

    The people could not have been nicer, the care in organizing and conducting the event could not have been more evident, and you meet players on your and other instruments from all over the world. The jam sessions are so numerous that you can inevitably find one that fits your style and speed. It is, in short, music heaven, and the environment is unrestrained fun. Next year is the Sore Fingers 20th anniversary. Whether you are young (like many of my mandolin classmates) or old (like me), put it on your bucket list.

    Steve Aby

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    Registered User dulcillini's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sore Fingers Summer School 2014

    I definitely want to add it to my bucket list. When and where is the event in 2015 ?
    Michael A. Harris
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    Default Re: Sore Fingers Summer School 2014

    TBD I think. They have an October weekend too http://www.sorefingers.co.uk/default.php I might try and make that. Wish I'd known about the week too.

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    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sore Fingers Summer School 2014

    I did 2011 weekend and the 2012 week and can second the recommendation.
    I only wish I could go every Easter
    Eoin



    "Forget that anyone is listening to you and always listen to yourself" - Fryderyk Chopin

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    Registered User adgefan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sore Fingers Summer School 2014

    Hi Steve

    It was nice to meet you last week and I'm glad to hear you had such a good experience. This was my 11th Sore Fingers in a row, and it was probably one of the best. I was worried that I was a little jaded having attended so many times, but Joe was a superb teacher and I thoroughly enjoyed his classes. I hope he returns soon.

    Katherine

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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sore Fingers Summer School 2014

    I've heard pro & con comments re. 'Sore Fingers - i hasten to add, NOT because of the courses,which i believe are second to none,but how applicable / useful they are to more experienced players. Nobody would say,certainly not me,that we all can't learn new things,but do we really want / need to learn things that we don't wish to ?.The point i'm maybe trying to make is my own one.
    I've been playing for close to 9 years now. I'm totally self taught & i've made a heck of a lot of progress. I have my own way of learning things which has stood me in good stead up to now. So,do i want to sit in on a course which has me going through TABBED out tunes for hours on end.This is what one friend of mine who attended a Sore Fingers course said happened to him a couple of years back.
    For new players,especially those who do use TAB as an aid to learning,then such courses,given by a good teacher,are invaluable,but to players such as myself,they are far less important than actually playing with other musicians. I'm waiting for the course where groups of musicians can come together to play & experiment with 'how they play' ie.what fits & what doesn't. In other words,learning 'band technique' & learning to improvise intros.breaks etc. Now that would get me down there in a flash,
    Ivan
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    Registered User adgefan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sore Fingers Summer School 2014

    Hi Ivan

    I understand what you are saying. What happens in class is entirely dependent on the teacher - so if you are attending a camp purely as a learning experience and it doesn't aid your playing, it could seem a waste of time and money.

    For me though, camps are a really fun holiday where I might also get to learn a few things. There is plenty going on other than the classroom tuition and it's a bit like attending a week long music festival. The main thing I get out of it is the inspiration to keep practising for the rest of the year.

    cheers

    Katherine

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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sore Fingers Summer School 2014

    Hi Katherine - Thanks for chipping in once more. I know that you're a fan of Sore Fingers - so am i,but 'passively' if you understand.
    I've leared a lot in the last 9 years,but i've not put any of it to use,& that's something i feel the need to do. Back in the mid '60's when i was learning to play banjo,there were so many clubs & musicians around,i could get a 'scratch band' together in an evening,& very often did,unlike now,where i very rarely see any other Bluegrass musicians at all. I have thought of asking to come down to Sore Fingers almost as an 'observer',rather than for any tuition,though i feel that it would be rather discourteous to do so.
    The friend whom i referred to,is a fellow Cafe member.He attended Sore Fingers & was rather disappointed in the way the course was run - TAB,TAB & more TAB. Like myself,he's not a TAB reader - maybe we should use it more often ?. I choose to learn by ear,that way i get the 'feel' of a tune or song. I only use TAB as an aid, when i can't figure out the tune by ear.
    BTW - How's that Ellis "A" holding up ?. Sounding better every day i hope,
    Best wishes - Ivan
    Weber F-5 'Fern'.
    Lebeda F-5 "Special".
    Stelling Bellflower BANJO
    Tokai - 'Tele-alike'.
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    Registered User Richard.g.hampton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sore Fingers Summer School 2014

    Hi Ivan - I agree with Katherine's comment - if it doesn't work for you there's no point in going. Personally I'm a big fan.....I've been seven times now, and each time is different. Your friend had an unfortunate experience, and I would have been put off by it myself. it doesn't reflect my own experience, however.........Certainly, the classes are mixed ability...they sometimes range from professional musicians to people who have just worked out which part of the mandolin goes in the wide part of the case, but the teachers are often used to this. For example, both John Reischman and John Moore went round the class on day 1 and asked what we wanted to get out of the week.....and then made sure that these elements were covered somewhere. Also, each tutor when I have been there has made time for an hour or so's individual teaching with each student. If the teacher is someone you feel has something to offer you, I feel it's well worth it.....and we'd be glad to see you too!!

    All the best


    Richard

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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sore Fingers Summer School 2014

    Richard - I'm sure that i'd enjoy it,even to the point of deliberating every year whether to attend or not,but i just don't want the tuition side of things. It's certainly nothing to do with 'they can't teach me anything' (unless i'm too dim of course !),but it's as i said in my last post,i need to put into practice what i've already learned. I began playing banjo in 1963,by 1966 i had a band together & we opened for Bill Monroe & The Boys in Manchester,at the Manchester Sports Guild, in June of that year. All of us in the band got there by practicing 'together' what we'd taught ourselves individually. Learning for learning's sake doesn't cut it with me any more.I've almost stopped playing banjo after 50 years,because i've literally spent years learning tunes never to play them anywhere. You get to the stage where you have to ask yourself what the he**'s the point ?. For me,the 'ultimate',has to be playing with a band - isn't that what it's all about ?. I feel sure that you'll agree (?). I could learn more (& have done in the past),by watching the pros.play. I could learn more of stuff that's of use 'to me', in an hour, playing with Tony Furtado / John Reischman etc.,that i could learn in a week of tuition.That's why i said that a course on 'band technique' where it's ALL about playing with others would attract me. Until that happens,i would highly recommend Sore Fingers to any player,if that's the sort of thing they need. As to the 'social' side of Sore Fingers,i'd absorb it like a sponge.There's nothing on the planet that i enjoy more than talking to,learning from,& playing with other musicians,
    Ivan
    Weber F-5 'Fern'.
    Lebeda F-5 "Special".
    Stelling Bellflower BANJO
    Tokai - 'Tele-alike'.
    Ellis DeLuxe "A" style.

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    Registered User jonny250's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sore Fingers Summer School 2014

    Nice post Steve, it really was good fun this year!
    Joe was a brilliant teacher.
    Here are a couple of clips from the week:


    Pogo Big, with the guitar class:


    and Katherine jamming with Joe [hope you dont mind me putting it up Katherine, got to show off that talent!]:

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    Default Re: Sore Fingers Summer School 2014

    Pictures, words, 1000. Nice videos, although I am feeling a bit intimidated now. I'll have to get some boot polish on the Hathway and buff it up to a nice gloss shine too

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    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sore Fingers Summer School 2014

    While you're on videos to get the atmosphere. Here's one Brian Wicklund did........

    who'll spot the madly keen mando player at the end of the left pan?



    So wish I could have gone this year again.
    Eoin



    "Forget that anyone is listening to you and always listen to yourself" - Fryderyk Chopin

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    Default Re: Sore Fingers Summer School 2014

    Having attended ten if not eleven SFSS (though not this year or last) I can say that nearly all of the classes in singing and mandolin have been either very, very good or excellent. Only one stood out as not up to standard, and that person will probably not teach there again in a long while.

    This is the only chance that most of us in the UK or Europe have to get together and learn...flying to America is not always an option, and from some reports of those who have been to schools on either coast, not always worth the candle.

    For very experienced players, perhaps a class room situation is not always ideal (depends on how BIG your ego is). There always those who think they know everything already, and if the mix includes those of a lesser ability, these people can make for a restless atmosphere. However, nearly everyone can improve and learn something new. What's more, you can also gain a great deal from the experience of helping some one else to learn a riff, a piece of musical knowledge etc. The opportunity to be with people who like "our kind" of music is something else and almost beyond description.

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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sore Fingers Summer School 2014

    From above - " For very experienced players, perhaps a class room situation is not always ideal (depends on how BIG your ego is). There always those who think they know everything already, and if the mix includes those of a ..". For 'very experienced players',ego has nothing at all to do with it,simply the desire to play with others. The whole point behind my posts is that i'm NOT a very experienced player,but i want to be,& i can't get the experience sitting in a class going through the same things over & over & ...... ! The only way i can gain the experience that i wish to, is by playing with other musicians to explore my own talent to play (or not !) as the case may be. Everybody can always learn something new,but how many new things do you need to learn before you try to put them into practice ?. After 9 years,i've learned a lot,but the ONLY way i can evaluate my skill at playing / improvising is within a band context,not by paging through sheets of TAB. Everybody has their own way of learning & for 50 years,mine's worked very well,but i still need a yardstick whereby i can evaluate what i've already learned.
    Only a fool would protest that they can't learn / be taught anything. Likewise,only somebody who doesn't wish to 'test' their ability by playing other players,is maybe fooling themselves regarding that ability.
    As i stated in a previous post,i've spent years learning new tunes / songs on banjo, never to play them anywhere. I decided a long while back that maybe instead of learning'tunes / songs' note for note,i'd learn to be a good 'back up' / break player' in the same way that Earl Scruggs did. His playing behind Lester Flatt's vocals is for me simply un-beatable,so i set out to do that. I've chosen to do much the same in my mandolin playing,but can i actually do it ? - maybe i'll never find out if i don't get to play with other musicians,
    Ivan
    Weber F-5 'Fern'.
    Lebeda F-5 "Special".
    Stelling Bellflower BANJO
    Tokai - 'Tele-alike'.
    Ellis DeLuxe "A" style.

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    Default Re: Sore Fingers Summer School 2014

    Quote Originally Posted by Beanzy View Post
    While you're on videos to get the atmosphere. Here's one Brian Wicklund did........

    who'll spot the madly keen mando player at the end of the left pan?



    So wish I could have gone this year again.
    Answer: John Paul Jones

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