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Singers' Perspective on Drum Contests

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  • Singers' Perspective on Drum Contests

    Okay all you Northern you guys think that most drum contests nowadays are TOO strict? I mean does it really make a difference if there are like five guys sitting at the drum at all times all weekend? OR, do you guys think that drum contests are NOT strict enough?
    What rule(s) would you like to see added or deleted?


  • #2
    you know, i dont think that is too strict. it should be common sense to have your singers where they belong, at the drum. sure if someone is out dancing, or going to the bathroom or something thats fine. but youre there to sing, not to be out walking around lost in space, or trying to snag or whatever.
    its pretty damn sad that nowadays having a rule like this for drum contest is the only thing keeping some singers at the drum.
    i cant stand it when i look around and see one or two people sitting at the drum when the rest of their crew is just off playing around. then the drums that just up and leave their drum by itself. the singers are all missing and the drum is there just sitting. that makes me just lose respect for a drum. it shows me as singers they dont know what the hell they are doing.
    so a contest rule like that at least keeps some singers at the drum, something they should do rule or not. so i dont think its such a bad thing to have in the contest.
    i think judging ballots should be pretty standard though. i hate seeing some ballots that just say

    its just too vauge. i think juding 1-10 pts on appropriateness and cleanliness is too much. either the song is appropriate, or its not. either the area is clean or its not. not 1-10.
    i like to see ballots that include the dancers reaction, originality of the song, (whether its their song or not, whether it has its own sound or sounds like every other song out there, that type of thing) and judging of the song over all.
    there are other things too, but this is a long post, and im tired of typing. so the rest of you all put in your own thoughts.


    • #3
      Singers should not need the rules that require them to stay at the drum or keep it clean. This is singers protocol. When the singers are learning, they are taught this. (or should have been)
      However, this basic protocol is not being followed. It is a shame that these two rules have to be inserted into a contest. It is not too strict.
      Going for a stretch, to pee or even just to socialize is acceptable. As long as there is enough singers there to start iffen they get a whistle or a surprise call upon from the AD or MC.

      Those two rules never used to be there. It was just understood.

      I've never seen a drum confiscated by any of the older singers for leaving a drum unattended, but I've heard of it. I have seen some young singers getting scolded but that was the extent of that.

      Young scout, do you believe that the older singers should start confiscating drums for leaving a drum alone? Would this practice lead to the deletion of the "stay at the drum" rule?

      This thread was initiated by you. What's your take on it?

      Thanks:) Good topic.


      • #4

        Believe in who you are!

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        • #5
          The drum I sing with always has to have atleast one person sitting with the drum all the time. Its considered rude to leave the drum all alone like that with nobody there to keep it company or to watch over it. The drum is our grandfather and should never be left alone.
          As for it being in the drum contest rules; I think its a little to strict to always have atleast more than 4 guys at the drum at all times.
          Having atleast one singer at the drum at all times is fair enough for the spirit of the drum, just as long as it aint alone.

          I'm kinda disappointed at the judging criteria most pow wows use when it comes to judging drums. I mean.....every pow wow with a singing contest almost always judges on the same criteria such as appropriateness, cleanliness, beats, and leads. I mean those are good standards to judge by, but at the same time to narrow.
          If I were a head singing judge I'd be a bit more considerate to the singing and drumming. I'd consider the melody, and flow to the song; basically the overall rhythym of the song and how it makes the dancers feel. I would also put more emphasis on the participation of every singer, and also the knowledge of the song by the singers. I find it easy to tell whos lip-singing and whos not. Its also easy to tell who misses a pause, cue, or beat in a song. Just listen for the "eh" in a song and thats a major mistake.
          thats my .75 cents on this.



          • #6
            Well it seems as though a lot of good points have been brought up. The reason i have initiated this subject was to gain further insight on co-ordinating a drum contest, as i have done so on many occasions. I've always kinda thought that there should be a "universal" ballot, if you will, that could be used at most pow wows to ensure a fair as possible drum contest. Much of the criteria used on the ballots are too vague, and it doesn't seem fair that such irrelevent points could be the difference between good drum groups in a contest. Like the cleanliness rule is such a gimmie. there is no reason why a group should not get full points for keeping the small area around their drum clean.
            I like the idea of the dancers' reaction to the inter-tribals. Make the dancers dance to a rockin' song and get extra points.
            Obviously, every competing drum would like to see a fair drum contest, so thats why there has to be rules that fairly reward the groups who have came to sing and have fun. It is hard to judge good drum groups based on the vagueness of most judging criteria nowadays.
            Oh yeah Kiwehnzii, i don't really think that its really neccessary for an older singer to take away a drum from the younger guys for leaving it alone. A good scolding ought to be good enough.


            • #7
              man, ive thought about that universal ballot myself. it would make things so much better. especially for the powwows that have people running the contests who just dont have a clue.


              • #8
                Well, while the idea is nice it'll be interesting to see if it comes to fruition. My guess is a bigger pow-wow would have to start and advertise something like that. Kind of how when Denver March began computerized score keeping.....something to that effect (do they still use that system there???...hmmm...)

                On the cleanliness rule, my personal opinion is to take that category off of the "singing" categories and add it as an extra. If I'm judging a drum group and their drum is neat and respectable looking (which is 99% of the time in a singing contest) then I give full points. Most guys I know do the same thing. The question of cleanliness on a ballot should be more of a yes or no thing with a penalty being assessed only if the majority of the other drum judges thinks so. When I see it on there as a whole category I normally use it to penalize a drum a point or something for something minor from their actual singing that's not on the ballot if it's close, but I don't "judge" on cleanliness. Most times it's a useless category.


                • #9
                  there some good points going here. me likey very much.
                  The cleanliness stuff is good.
                  Only God can Judge Me


                  • #10
                    The drum should never be left alone at a pow wow. Atleast one or two singers should always stay with the drum. I'm all for it being in the singing contest rules. If your at your drum all the time, your showing all the people there how much respect you show for yourself and your drum. Pow Wows are kinda drifting away from the spiritual part of it. I mean.....lets never forget who we are and what our traditions are.
                    howah, shtaahi


                    • #11
                      I don't sing right now, but here is something I observed this weekend at the Return to P'Sqousa Powwow (P'Sqousa or "Wenatchi" Tribe powwow near Leavenworth, Washington). This was a $5,000 drum contest powwow (first place was Southern Cree, BTW). The contest depended partly on participation points, of course (and I don't know how it was divided), and the actual competition songs were done during intertribals and round dances. During dance competition, though, the drum order was drawn from a hat and kept secret until the wireless mike was literally ran over to a drum and handed to a singer - at which time the downbeat better happen immediately or expect to be docked points for not being ready. Only once did I see a singer whistle for the rest of his crew when he saw the mike carrier walking quickly in his direction, and they were all seated and ready to sing by the time it got there.

                      Dunno if this would work everywhere, but it seemed to produce a balanced workload on all of the drums this weekend and I haven't heard of major gripes from it. It kept them all on their toes.
                      "Friends don't let friends drink decaf..."
                      Wakalapi's $49 unlimited phone service


                      • #12
                        Universal Ballot?

                        I know, judging by my name, I do not sing northern. But, I was skimming through and I found the topic very interesting.

                        All of you made good points previously. I like the idea of the universal ballot. I think it would make things very easy for Pow Wow Committies and for all the younger groups, some sense of direction when they have none. I created a ballot just this past weekend for a Pow Wow Committy. I don't have access to it right now but I will post it either tonight or tomorrow EST. Let me know what you think. After I created it, I said no way. This is too detailed. But it sure beats those vague criterias mentioned.



                        • #13

                          hey natives...
                          i think this topic is really good. as a young 15 year old singer i know what it is like to be left at the drum by ur self, cuz my crew always takes off and my grandfather always told me that we came to sing not to be off messing around or anything else. if u dont wanna do that then why set ur group up. i still sing with my dads and i have a coulple bro's that sing to and we started a new group called the bears cuz we are all bear clan, and my bros always take off and leave me alone at the drum but i belive that that will give me a blessing and i just hope sumday my crew can learn that otherwise if we are going for the championship at connecticut we might have one or two guys missing and we will lose just becuz of that. well thats all i would like to say. and thank u to all u veteran singers who showed me that singing is fun and enjoyable. look for us on the powwow trl sometime
                          thanks and my the lord bless u
                          jesse walker


                          • #14
                   are very respectful young man...:D :D :D
                            tuck & roll


                            • #15
                              I love all the responses. I agree with most of them wholeheartedly!

                              Especially about having a member at the drum at all times. I think it's kind of sad to see one person always at the drum when the rest of them are no where to be seen until their up in rotation. I think a couple of members would be nice, but I wouldn't dock points just for that.

                              Wakalapi -- I think that's a fantastic idea for a drum contest, to pick out of a hat. For any competition, like grass, jingle, tradish) then they have to get a song together right then to sing, they better know it off the top of their heads. That's a mark of true champions. :) I'm going to suggest that next time.

                              luvsouthernsingin - I'd love to see your completed ballot! :D

                              thunderbear - I wish you the absolute best of luck! You sound like a fine young man, you'll go far. Believe in yourself always. Your views are very mature, I admire your respect for the drum, I commend you on being someone that was already given the gift of songs. You are already blessed. :)
                              :p cool indin woman :p


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