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Drum Contest v. Drum Split

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  • Drum Contest v. Drum Split

    What does everyone prefer? Drum contests or a drum split where all drums who show up and sing the weekend get an equal split? I like the split because everyone who sings gets something and that is the way it should be in my opinion. Just curious as to what everyone thinks.

  • #2
    i disagree....singing contests give the singers a chance to see if all they're hard work paid off.....i know for me it is cool to see who "won" on any given weekend..... and since the advent of Schemitzun look at the sheer number of quality drum groups that are out there now and that only benefits the dancers. there are still a number of traditional powwows you can attend if you do not want to participate in a drum contest but for alot of drums it is their preference to compete. just look at any contest and the competing drums are singing their hearts out for both the dancers and for a chance to say they are champion singers which is something to be proud of. most host drums no matter how good they are just don't sing as hard as the competing groups and thats just the way it usually is....probably because of lack of pressure.........but thats only my opinion


    • #3
      I am stuck on the idea that singers are supposed to be humble. We are here to bring joy into other peoples lives. That is our sacrifice in life. I dont think singing should become a full time job for anyone. Yeah you work hard to become a good singer and learn many songs. Why should you be looking for people to reward you? That is my humble opinion.

      Then again, singing is all that some people do for a living nowadays. When there is 10 or 15 people on a drum, big money contests are the only thing to get drums to come. Way back in the day it might have cost a couple buck for gas to drive your guys to a dance. Nowadays it cost a few hundred to get all those guys around.

      I guess I am stuck in the past. I am not a full time singer, I have a full time job that takes most of my time and I sing about 10 powwows a year. The most money I ever received for singing was $40. I didnt care, I sing because I like it and the dancers need me. I sang this weekend for a small powwow and after splitting up the blanket and request money we each recieved $14. It got me home.
      The brighter the light, the deeper the shadow.


      • #4
        Either way, it's good. I'm gettin a little older and don't sing much anymore. Sometimes with one of the drumgroups from my rez. :o I look like this guy trying to sing high. I can't keep up with them young voices too long so I never sing with them when there's a drum contest.
        However, I like to hear the drum groups competing. They give it everything they got.
        Meanwhile, the host and/or guest drums just go thru the motions as they know they're getting top dollars for hosting. And - they show up with the bare minumum amount of singers. Just enough to get by for the weekend.

        The person/s responsible for running the contest should be capable and straightforward with the singers and let them know exactly what is being judged.
        My very first post on this board concerned a rule about diction. What ta?? I still can't see that one being a part of a drum contest.

        Oh yeah, when they have a contest, the committee should ensure that the non-placing drums recieve an honorarium to help them out with gas money.
        If it wren't for the singers - there would be no powwow.


        • #5
          It seems to me that you might be comparing apples to oranges here. You can make the same arguments for or against drum contests as you can for dance contests. A drum split is always nice. Especially when you are not expecting it.

          One thing you should keep in mind in compensating a drum or singer is how much they contribute to the dance. If your committee asks a lot of a drum, like grand entry, flag,veteran, specials, etc, you should probably give them something for it. When our head singer splits up any money he always gives a little more to guys who lead songs.

          Another thing to keep in mind is that however you split up money among drums, no one is getting rich singing. I know guys who want to get paid well every time they sing and it is a bit annoying. It's not like pow-wows are a lucrative and profitable business. At least for probably 90% of the dances out there.



          • #6
            Well first off I don't think the drums get the respect we deserve. You think of drum contests, first place is like $3000, and then dance contest first for adults is like $1000 bucks. What is that? You have 10-13 guys trying to split that up. I mean sure it is a healthy enough cut, but some dancers can sit around all weekend, and just dance contest, get 1st and walk off with a GRAND.

            But overall I think drum contests are better than a split to some extent. With me being a dancer and a singer, I can relate. I know I like to dance to better drums when I dance, but everyone does deserve a chance to sing, and they know what the outcome of the contest could be, and most drums know if they are just going to sing, or contend.

            So keep the drum contests going strong, and you can expect good drums at your pow wow, even though they may only get about $300 per singer. Honorarium is good for a little cash though.
            ~AJ~ ;)


            • #7
              When I used to be the chairman of my hometown traditional powwow, I made sure that every drum that showed up received $500 a piece, as I know how hard and expensive it is to travel to a powwow for a whole drum group and their family. Of course the host and guest drums would receive a considerable amount on top of this, but they were the host and guest drums and needed to be treated as such. For many years now, I have lobbied and advocated the need for powwow committees to look at the issue of taking care of our drums and singers. Competition powwows are a little different but they still need to make sure that all drums are somehow honoured.
              Competition powwows are fun and I and my fellow singers are always up for a contest even though we don't always place. It is just so exciting to sing from your heart and try your best. Some competition powwows nowdays, are offering a singing contest with a drum split for those drums that don't place.This is the most reasonable scenario as singers need to be respected and looked after as they have been taken for granted alot over the years.
              Humility is certainly a trait that was once considered being part of a singer but now days it is hard to find. I'm certain that most singers sing because of their hearts but in reality, the drums need to be taken care of financially as well as wholistically.
              As for the issue of how a drum splits up their honorarium, thats another topic that should be discussed.


              • #8
                I like the idea of drums who don't place in contests receiving an honorarium. That way all singers who come and set their drum up and sing receive at least something. That's what I was getting at originally. Contests are fine as long as the singers involved realized that its just that, a contest, and winning doesn't give you the right to get a big head.

                As far as groups hosting and not bringing a full crew, I think that stinks!! Some drums split their members up for the weekend and send 4-5 singers here and 4-5 singers there and both crews use the one drum name...that way they make more $$. That's just wrong in my opinion. If you're a drum group, you should stick together and go to the same pow wow. Its not uncommon in the east and NC especially to hear of the same drum in two places at once... :D


                • #9


                  • #10
                    Contest all the way. A little compition always brings out the best in people. The worst comes out too but whoz perfect. Split is good too but whoz gonna sing hard for a small cut? Also it makes traveling far worth it if you place high. Who would get to see their favorite drums if pow-wows only split. No one would travel far for a small split.
                    Only God can Judge Me


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