The story so far

Jam session In 1996, inspired by the US based Augusta Heritage Camps, Andrea Waters had an idea to set up a bluegrass camp in the United Kingdom. When she visited Kingham Hill School on the occasion of a vintage car rally she realised this was an ideal venue for Sore Fingers Week and the rest is history.

Well not quite. The first event entertained just fifty students across three courses - banjo with Pete Wernick, harmony singing with Kate Brislin and a combined mandolin and guitar course with Jody Stecher. The five day event was supplemented with some two day workshops held over the first weekend.

Tim O'Brien in the 2005 tutor concert Year two saw things grow to accommodate double the number of students and six courses. Today, Sore Fingers Week regularly offers thirteen courses and accommodates well over 250 students. The courses cover the instruments found in bluegrass and old time music and Sore Fingers Week has gained recognition around the world. Many of our students travel considerable distances to come and enjoy the atmosphere. Music is an international language!

After eight years, Andrea decided to call it a day and retire from her post. To commemorate her achievement, we have created the "Andrea Waters Scholarship" which each year sponsors a young student to attend. Other organisations have also helped young people to attend. These include the British Bluegrass Music Association, The Chris Metcalfe Memorial Fund, Arthur Robinson, Kick Productions, Aclaim, The Cornish Bluegrass Association and a number of individuals Jamming in the bar who believe in helping young people discover bluegrass, old time and associated music.

In 2005 Sore Fingers Week celebrated it's tenth aniversary and was more successful than ever with bookings coming in at an alarming rate. Since our first year, we have played host to over 70 different tutors, close to 60 travelling from North America, 9 from the UK and 1 from Ireland! In addition to the teaching personnel, we have a staff of ten people to keep things running smoothly.

There is no doubt the quality of the tutors we have been able to attract has made a difference (just take a look at the list) and we have a continuous policy of improvement making changes as they become necessary.

We have seen a total of nearly 1700 students come through the school. With their enthusiasm and humour, the students make the event enjoyable and you Jamming are just as likely to learn from a fellow student as you are from your tutor. The community atmosphere is a Sore Fingers Week trademark and you can see this friendship carry over to festivals and other events throughout the year.

I need to mention some of the people who have helped to make this one of the most popular and fun events on the annual bluegrass calendar:

Gill Harrison (Concert and Scratch Band Coordinator), Dave Kosky and Rex Preston (the Tea Team), Joe Rusby (Sound Engineer), Carolyn and Nigel Harris (Merchandise Sales), Moira Wirtz (does all the work, apparently...), Bob Herringshaw (Kingham teacher who helped us so much during the early years) and all the staff at Kingham Hill School who become involved in looking after us (how do they ever put up with us!). Finally, all the tutors, without exception, who have been prepared to travel thousands of miles to be with us.

Long may it continue!

John Wirtz