• About Summer Rock Camp

    SRC was founded in 2004 by Michael Finley, a San Francisco Bay Area

    professional musician and music educator

    It is our belief that music empowers people and changes lives. SRC provides campers with the opportunity to collaborate with others and find their artistic voice while promoting self-esteem, creativity, effective communication, respect for others, social skills and emotional expression.



    SRC immerses campers completely in live music and performance for a full week with long day sessions (9AM to 3PM) culminating in a Friday afternoon concert (or Thursday for the 4 day camp) where they showcase their new music skills and featured songs crafted over the week in front of a live audience including family, friends, and peers. Find out what it is really like to be in a rock band with fellow musicians and bandmates for a full week, rocking out for hours!


    Campers come by themselves, with siblings or with friends to form a music band for a week, one that can continue after camp ends.


    Bands typically consist of drums, bass, vocalist, two guitars, and keyboards. We also welcome horns (trumpet, etc) and woodwinds (saxophone, etc).


    SRC is a REAL music camp. What you learn here will directly apply to all the music you will ever perform and study for years to come not to mention general life lessons as well.


    In addition to forming an original rock band, campers attend music workshops by professionals in their field(s), perform live with other peer musicians, experience real recording sessions as well as the production and organization of a REAL music concert at the end of the week.


    SRC maintains a 4:1 camper to counselor ratio and campers range from ages 9 to 18.

    A typical SRC day

    9AM to 9:45AM Check In


    On the first Monday of each week's session, SRC introduces the staff/counselors talking about what they do and then have the campers introduce themselves to the group. Campers form music groups and decide which songs they want to start rehearsing. Each band has their own rehearsal room for the week.


    For the remainder of the week, mornings are spent in Band Rehearsal after check in.


    9:45AM to 10AM Break/Free Time


    • Campers are offered to either practice individually on their songs or take a 15 minute break from the music and rest their ears.


    10AM to 10:30AM Theory Class


    Song Structure: Introduction, Verse, Chorus, Bridge, Interlude, Solo, etc.

    Ear Training: Fundamental Intervals, Essential Chords, Basic Rhythms, etc.


    10:30AM to 12PM Band Rehearsal


    12PM Lunch


    SRC is located close to University Avenue in Palo Alto, CA so campers can easily walk to local restaurants, cafés, or bring a bag lunch from home. For safety, it is required that campers go in groups and those under 14 years old are required to be accompanied by an SRC counselor who is 18 years old or older.


    1PM Instrument Class


    • Bass, Drums, Guitar, Horns/Woodwinds, Keyboards, Vocals


    2PM to 2:15PM Break/Free Time


    • Campers are offered to either practice individually on their songs or take a 15 minute break from the music and rest their ears.


    2:15PM to 2:45PM Band Rehearsal


    2:45PM Camp Meeting


    • Meeting in Kohlstedt Hall to discuss how things are going and listening to what can be done to improve things for the campers/groups for the rest of the week's session.


    3PM Camp Is Out


    • Parents pick up campers at First United Methodist Church, 625 Hamilton Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94301. There is parking around back (on Byron Street between University Avenue and Hamilton Avenue) and SRC is in the downstairs area of the church in Kohlstedt Hall.

  • SRC 2020

    Week 1: No longer available

    Week 2: June 29 to July 2 (4 day camp)

    Week 3: July 6 to July 10

    Week 4: July 13 to July 17

    5 day camp is $595.00 each week

    4 day camp is $525.00

    (add $20 processing fee if paying by PayPal)


    All Summer Rock Camp - SRC registration fees must be paid in full by Friday, May 29, 2020 or at time of registration. See policy page for additional information. We offer partial or full scholarships for those in need. Please contact us for more information.


    Co-ed Ages 9 - 18


    All skill levels (beginner to advanced)

    Note: Camper should be able to comfortably play at least two songs - if camper could benefit from private lessons prior to beginning of camp, please contact Michael Finley at 650-521-2886


    5 day camps run 9AM to 3PM Monday through Thursday and 9AM to 12PM on Friday at which point we break until 2:00PM when everyone comes back for sound check


    End of the week Friday night concerts require ALL campers to be present until the concert ends typically at 6:00PM


    All Friday concerts start at 4:00PM


    4 day camp runs 9AM to 3PM Monday through Wednesday and 9AM to 12PM on Thursday at which point we break until 2:00PM when everyone comes back for sound check


    End of the week Thursday night concert requires ALL campers to be present until the concert ends typically at 6:00PM


    Thursday concert starts at 4:00PM


    Campers need to bring their own instruments

    • Drums
    • Guitars/Bass
    • Keyboards
    • Horns/Woodwinds
    • Strings, guitar picks, guitar straps, drum heads, instrument cables, special effects pedals, and anything out of the ordinary that you require to make you shine, etc.

    Note: Bring a bag lunch or money for going out to lunch in the downtown Palo Alto area. Snacks and drinks will be provided by SRC throughout the camp session day.

  • SRC policy

    Registration Policy

    All Summer Rock Camp - SRC registration fees must be paid in full by Friday, May 29, 2020 or at time of registration.

    Cancellation/Refund Policy

    All cancellation requests must be made in writing prior to Friday, May 29, 2020 (email is fine). SRC will retain a $125.00 cancellation fee and will refund the balance. If your child gets sick within a week of the start date of camp and has a doctor’s note, SRC will keep the $125.00 cancellation fee but will refund the balance. After Friday, May 29, 2020 all SRC registration and fees are non-refundable. If a camper leaves or is dismissed from camp during the session because of any reason other than health (doctor's note required), No Refund Will Be Made.

    Conduct Policy

    There is absolutely NO smoking, drinking of alcohol, drug use, violent behavior, bullying others, or scooter/skateboard activity allowed on the grounds of the camp and in the surrounding areas. DO NOT harm your fellow campers at SRC and please respect their music instrument(s) and other equipment. If you want to use someone else's gear, ask them directly first and respect their decision. If an SRC director or counselor feels that someone is a problem and they have been warned, we will send them home without refund.

  • SRC Staff

    SRC counselors typically are in their 20's, long time music students (former and present) of Mike Finley, have academic music degrees or are working on them, and are patient and creative teachers, and/or professionals. We have been fortunate to retain many of our very talented past counselors from year to year so returning campers can continue their unique experience with guidance and build on past years. They also help us maintain our 4:1 camper to teacher ratio and familiar faces.

    broken image

    Michael Finley

    SRC Founder/Director

    Guitar, Bass, Drums, Vocals Counselor

    Michael Finley has a full 39 years of music experience including studying classical music theory with Dr. Paul Davies, jazz theory with Peter Spitzer, jazz guitar with Hristo Vitchev, rock fusion guitar with James Finley, and others. 


    Michael began folk/bluegrass music lessons as a teenager while taking bass lessons from Myron Dove of Santana fame while also studying and playing drums and percussion. He supplemented his formal studies with the use and study of countless music books as well. He has helped his private students over the years gain entry into higher education at notable universities such as the University of Southern California (USC), New York University (NYU), New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, Berklee School of Music, and others. He's also taught guitar, bass, and drums privately in his local studio for the last 30+ years. He currently actively performs in a wide variety of music groups here in the San Francisco Bay Area ranging from jazz, rock, fusion, r&b, and reggae bands. This will be the 16th year Michael has directed this local independent summer rock camp since he founded it in 2004.

    Lilan Kane

    SRC Assistant Director

    Vocal, Keyboards Counselor

    Graduate of Berklee School of Music and full-time choral instructor. Also, a private vocal instructor throughout the year.

    Brett Warren

    9th Year SRC Counselor

    Bass, Guitar

    Former music student of Michael Finley and young bass virtuoso who is extremely talented and a gifted music instructor with experience in jazz, rock, funk, and rap.

    Chloe Finley

    5th Year SRC Counselor


    Vocalist and returning counselor to the SRC community.

    Olga Galperin

    6th Year SRC Counselor

    Bass, Guitar

    Former music student of Michael Finley and a returning counselor to the SRC community.

    Ollie Godfrey

    5th Year SRC Counselor

    Guitar, keyboards

    Former music student of Michael Finley and a returning counselor to the SRC community.

    Tony Bianchini

    7th Year SRC Counselor

    Bass, vocals

    Former music student of Michael Finley and a returning counselor to the SRC community.

    Kristin Cardie

    7th Year SRC Counselor

    Bass, guitar

    Robert DeSandre

    7th Year SRC Counselor

    Drums, guitar

  • SRC Testimonials

    Read what students, parents, and counselors have to say about SRC

    Chloe S, student

    “I've been attending Rock Camp for about six years now, starting when I was only ten years old. I come back each and every year because it is always the most memorable and exciting part of my summer. Mike and his staff are like family to me-- they're always so welcoming and friendly, and they put a tremendous amount of effort into making sure that each kid feels heard. Being in a small band (4-5 kids) with a professional musician as your counselor creates a safe space for kids to explore and grow as musicians. When putting together bands, Mike Finley makes sure to factor in skill level, as well as age. He puts kids into groups where he thinks they will be most comfortable, however, he always leaves room for growth.


    The distinguishing factor between Summer Rock Camp and its competitors (e.g. school of rock) is that Rock Camp will teach your kids about all aspects of music-- rather than simply copy a couple songs with their bands, kids have a chance to learn important lessons about music theory, rhythm, etc. These skills are what will set you apart as a musician in the long run-- kids are encouraged to be creative, and some bands even learn to write their own original pieces.


    Rock camp equips young musicians with the skills they need to thrive-- this camp helped me learn to collaborate with others, master the art of performance, and greatly improve my skills on the guitar. Everybody works toward the performance on Friday, and each kid gets a chance to showcase their hard work. Overall, it's extremely rewarding, no matter what your skill level is. I never felt like my was being compared to others at the camp-- the counselors create an extremely positive atmosphere that makes it easy to be proud of yourself and everything you accomplished in just five days.


    Rock camp has taught me so much, not only about music, but about myself. I met one of my biggest role models at this camp-- nearly all of the counselors are pursuing music professionally, and many of them have degrees in music from top universities around the country. It's truly a phenomenal staff, and they have a lot of experience with working with kids in a musical setting.


    I plan on coming back to Rock Camp every summer for years to come-- I have extremely fond memories of performing, rehearsing, and just messing around with the other campers and counselors. If your kid is interested in music at ALL, send them to this camp.”

    Stella T, parent

    “Summer Rock Camp--and private lessons with Michael Finley in general--is for students who are serious about music and performance, and for those who can enjoy the wide skills and experience that it offers. That doesn't mean that someone who is still searching/beginning can't appreciate and grow from the experience, nor does it mean that a person has to be extroverted and self-promoting, just that it isn't going to indulge someone who is looking for the appearance of musical interest. Michael is a real person with opinions and quirks, and that is what is wonderful about him and the SRC experience. A comparable example might be the difference between taking an art class from someone who is skilled but a hobbyist versus someone who lives and breathes art. The first might yield skill improvement, but the latter has the potential to inspire and change a person's life.


    Because Michael is not corporate--a blessing and rarity in today's world--he particularly appeals to many Palo Alto kids who are looking for something real, something that doesn't give illusionary labels. If a student gets lost at the camp--which is possible at any camp--it might be because s/he needs to develop some assertiveness. That is a pretty important life skill, particularly for kids who are not used to making their own choices. Being a musician isn't a check-box of "I've done that" and can then move on to the next check-box experience. Developing as a musician--and as a person--is a personal path that requires risk, hard work, and a point of view. Since some reviewers are comparing SRC to S of R, I might say that the latter could be good for a beginner where it is useful to literally copy other musicians/songs. Once a student has a bit of experience, however, it would be unfortunate to not move away from that model to the School of Rock where kids are encouraged to own their musicianship. Our son took a tour of S of R and found it lacking in many ways--a cookie cutter approach and lots of down time waiting. So many parents are leading their kids to dabble in multiple things rather than focus and develop deeper interests/connections. I would hazard to guess that kids who attend SRC are motivated to make music even without a camp. That self-motivation is a huge difference in the type of experience a student would get at a gathering of Finley's Summer Rock Camp.”

    Olga G, student and counselor

    “The Summer Rock Camp is truly a gem. Unlike its corporate counterpart, which is essentially comprised of multiple business franchises (run by business people, NOT musicians), this camp is small and local, built from the ground up by local Palo Alto musician and teacher Michael Finley. He is present every single day at camp, overseeing the bands, teaching parts, sharing his expertise in master classes, so on and so forth (not to mention- he's a phenomenal artist who often designs the T-shirt logos by hand!). The staff are generally in their early to mid-20s; not only is music a central part of their day to day existence, they have ample experience, whether that means music degrees from prestigious universities to professional level band experience (or both). Band sizes generally range from 3-5 piece bands (sometimes doubling a guitar player, or adding a keyboardist, for example). This all depends on the sign-ups that come into camp (all are welcome!). Michael does his best to pair the most compatible groups by combining factors like instrument, age, musicianship level, and music taste. Heather is very incorrect in her commentary- the camp barely breaks 30 students, and usually is in the low 20s-meaning there is a lot of personal attention given to each child. Counselors work endlessly to teach the kids anywhere from 3-5 songs, and the end results at the concerts on Friday evening are really quite stunning. I think the experience to work with a band and successfully put songs together are irreplaceable experiences not only because it gives children a sense of accomplishment, but because of all the other skills they learn along the way which transcend just mastery of an instrument; children learn to work hard as team players, how to sacrifice and compromise (let's say when picking which songs to do that they all agree on and that singers want to sing), how to perform and face their fears of being vulnerable in front of a crowd (just to name a few). Last but not least, my draw to this camp has always been this sense of "realness" so-to-speak. Michael is very compassionate and understanding, but he is also very no-bullshit. He tells it like it is. To me, this camp has been incredibly refreshing and is a reminder of humanity, connection and true artistry- all of which are things I have felt the Bay Area has been losing over time, as it succumbs to more and more into technology and luxury, as everything seems to revolve around "productivity" and "efficiency" and we become more and more isolated and disconnected from one another. There is so much more to this camp than just "producing an end result"- I truly hope that it can stick around for a while. I hope the theme of soul-less big businesses undercutting and squashing out the true small, local gems will not happen any time soon. SO- if you are reading this, on the fence about enrolling your child- please do so! Support this local business!”

    Benjamin S, student

    “Summer Rock Camp was absolutely crucial to my development as a musician. It's a great way to get "out of the classroom" -- you get performance experience, learn how to play in a band, and meet musicians your age. The number of campers always varies week by week, but never goes over 20 or 25 students. You end up spending a lot of time with your band (4 to 5 kids and a counselor) as you learn, rehearse, and grab lunch together. Still, individual attention is available to all who need it and seek it out, and there's always a roaming staff member who can help with teaching or any other needs.


    Mike Finley was my teacher for seven years and I spent five summers at his camp. He's truly a hardworking, thoughtful guy who puts everything into his camp so the kids can get as much out of it as possible. He and his staff are experienced both with running the program week after week and with the world of professional music, and their knowledge is invaluable. I think it's safe to say that they're the reason so many kids come back year after year.”

    Andrew L, student

    “Mike Finley was my teacher from middle school through High School. Now I have a music degree from USC and do music for a living. My story is not unique, Mike has produced a ton of professional musicians.


    The experience at SRC is indispensable for many students. I recommend that most of my current guitar students attend SRC if they live in the Palo Alto area because they will get the experience of playing with a band and having a deadline (the kids need to play at least 2 songs by Friday which is a new experience for a lot of them). Plus they will be surrounded by some really talented, advanced, and truly unique students their own age. This is inspiring for a lot of kids and I know is not necessarily the case at every music camp.”

    Kim D, parent

    "My son is a teenager now and has attended SRC with M. Finley for 5 years? ....lost count.


    The first time he attended - he was one of the youngest students and I was nervous that he would be overlooked and outplayed. The counselors were wonderful and treated him equally as they did the older students. The week long experience was fantastic. My son was able to play and 'hang out' with a diverse range of musicians (both counselors and students) and levels of ability. Performing their songs at the end of the week was astounding. We (as parents) could not believe how much they learned in such a short time. It was impressive.


    Typically the instruments are: vocals, drums, bass, guitar, etc. But last summer it was so fun to see different instruments incorporated into a band.It was really well done. The Friday performances have been amazing to witness.


    So to send him every summer was a no-brainer.


    The Director/Owner of the camp, Michael Finley, is constantly on site - teaching, organizing, working with kids - creating a high energy, extremely positive friendly and supportive atmosphere.


    Most of the kids go out to lunch in downtown Palo Alto. Which turned out to be a very exciting life lesson about money for my son. Yes - going to certain restaurants are very expensive - do I need to order a soda, when water is free? How far can I make this $10 stretch. Loved that!


    Although the levels of ability can vary from group to group, Michael does a great job making sure that the kids are playing at a level suitable for them, that they play songs the WANT to play, and are equally showcased in their instrument. Have seen some really shy kids shine on stage because they feel safe in such a positive environment.


    I am pretty wary of camps in general (have had my son in over 30 different camps in Palo Alto/Bay area over the past 5 years), and this is one that I can truly recommend based upon the leadership, counselors, safety, learning experience, fun, and support of variety of abilities.”

    Patricia C, parent

    “My sons and daughter have gone to SRC for 4 years going on 5. We have scheduled family vacations around it and my son prefers it to the Stanford Jazz Camp because the ratio of students to counselor a is 4:1 and he gets a lot more individual attention. This camp isn't one of those camps that has music alongside arts and crafts, its all about the music and letting kids see what its like to work with real musicians, putting together songs, and working together as a band. The show at the end of the week is always a highlight with everyone rooting for each other and cheering wildly. Another highlight is that they have a full time vocal coach and train singers of all ages to sing with the bands (harder than it looks). Its so fun to see those singers strut their stuff doing backup, ensemble singing, and lead vocals, the young ones are particularly cute-you can see them gain confidence throughout the week!”

  • SRC Video Gallery

    Brad Beldner and Insight Films presents

    Summer Rock Camp 2011 (A short documentary)

    Rumour Has It - Adele

    I Feel Good - James Brown

    Just Kissed My Baby - The Meters

    Take the Power Back - Rage Against the Machine

    I'll Take You There - Staple Singers

    Bold As Love

    - Jimi Hendrix


    - Earth, Wind & Fire

    Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)

    - Pink Floyd