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Senior Division of Banjo & Fiddle Contests needs revision !

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Oct 3, 2019 - 3:23:51 PM
4570 posts since 2/24/2004

Whats with setting the age to compete in the senior divisions of Banjo & Fiddle contests at 60?

Pleeeeeassssseee--there are all kinds of hot shot whippersnappers competing in the senior division at 60 !

Those guys & dolls ain't old.  If you look at the new predictions for life expectancy--they are supposed to live to be at least 120 years old--don't let them compete with the real seniors.  Alot of the 60 year olds are still working full time and they don't even need any of those big money prizes :)

Maybe it should be set at 80 +--or at least 70+    

Don't let all those young whippersnappers flood in to take all the prize money because they want to move out of the adult division because because the Junior Appalachain Musicians folks are doing such a good job with the kids--that all the 16 year olds, 8 year olds--heck 4 year olds are taking all the ribbons. 

Yes--I think the JR. division should be moved up to 30 & all the youth should have to compete with each other.  Let all the hot shot 18 -30 year olds compete with the protege toddlers for a change :) Besides--they are all supposed to live to 180--so they have plenty of time to practice up for the over 100 + division. 

Okay--at the moment you might not have a huge field in the over 80 division--but if you raise it to at least 70+--I think there would be lots of entries if the seniors did not have to compete with all those 60 year old whippersnappers. :)

Thanks for your listen & please post your views and discussion on this matter that needs revising :)

Best wishes,

Mary Z Cox

Oct 3, 2019 - 3:51:41 PM
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453 posts since 11/14/2011

This makes perfect sense to me, Mary. However, aren't the rules/categories determined by the sponsors of each contest? Perhaps if one of the most widely acclaimed contests adopts your suggestions, most other contests would follow the leader.

Art C.

Oct 4, 2019 - 12:05:22 PM

4570 posts since 2/24/2004

Anybody have any suggestions on how to get a major contest to look at uping the age requirement for the senior divisions ?

Best wishes,

Mary Z

Oct 4, 2019 - 2:28:11 PM
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7037 posts since 11/4/2005

I'm 68, and I'm feeling every bit my age. I have run into some great 60 year old banjo pickers, but I think they are a little past being whippersnappers. Do you really want to make the 65 year old pickers compete with the 35 year olds? There is no solution that doesn't create new problems. It's a mistake to take contests too seriously, anyway. Have fun, and congratulate the picker that beats you. We will all live longer if we do that. I've been licked good far more times than I've placed.

Edited by - Don Borchelt on 10/04/2019 14:28:54

Oct 4, 2019 - 3:21:16 PM

306 posts since 2/10/2016

I hate to ask for a senior coffee ,or some young person to hold a door for me. I will not ask for old folks rates on anything. I sure don't want music to be rated on my age.
I think like Tommy Jerrell said,"Any body that enters a contest deserves to loose". He was old when he said this.
Just my thoughts on the subject.
God Bless

Oct 4, 2019 - 4:16:11 PM



286 posts since 9/12/2006

Well, my two cents worth - youth - any age someone begins to play up until age 12. Jr - from 13 to 17. adult - from 18 to 59. senior - 60 and older. NOW having said that, i also don't think that any, or MOST banjo contests need any kind of set in stone age for the separations of divisions. most probably do in fact set their own ages at which divisions occur. contests should be taken with a grain of salt. AND remember this - it has been said, that doyle lawson said, "bluegrass is not a contest." ALSO - Earl Scruggs did in fact enter banjo contests as a youngster, or up until such time as he began playing professionally. I FOR ONE, do NOT like to see professional banjo players entering banjo contests, (and i HAVE IN FACT seen this) nor any professional musician entering a contest!! i have also seen that quite a few contests actually ask this of contestants, that is - that IF someone earns half or more of their living from playing music, then PLEASE do not enter our contest. i don't suspect their is a lot of this going on, but it does occur now and then. such is life!! grin and go on!!

Edited by - GStump on 10/04/2019 16:17:13

Oct 5, 2019 - 7:59:05 AM
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Bill H


1269 posts since 11/7/2010

I'm with Don, it's all for the fun of it. Everyone gets up and does their best, and it's a joy to listen. It seems like I always meet nice people hear some interesting playing styles. I love the young ones especially.

Oct 6, 2019 - 12:22:05 PM



23662 posts since 7/22/2007

I've never been in a banjo contest - - but have been in quite a few fiddle contests here in Mn and Canada. 
Back "in the day" (30 or so years ago), there were only three age categories (divisions) to enter in. 
Junior/ Intermediate (Adult)/ and Senior.  That was changed in the early 1990's to the following:

Junior - Junior   - - - - - age 12 and under;
Junior  - - - - - - - - - - -  age 13 to 25;
Intermediate - - - - - - age 26 to 49;
Senior  - - - - - - - - - -   age 50 to 70;
Senior - Senior - - - - - age 71 and over.

In the first round each contestant is graded by judges (who can't see them or know who they are)  on a point system (difficulty of tune/ timing/ intonation/ etc. etc. etc.  There are 5 contestants out of each category chosen to go on to the 2nd round in their age bracket and they will compete for the top prize in their age category  AFTER the five contestants (who get the top amount of points awarded to them) for their performance are chosen for the top honors.

The top 5 point getters in our contests up here in northern Mn (regardless of age bracket)  move on to the Championship Division.  This is where the "big money" is and everyone gets a chance to make it there based on their ability to play - - and not on age.  It's a very fair system that allows everyone  (young or old) to come/ do their stuff on stage/ and not feel like they were "shut out by young whippersnappers".  Perhaps banjo contests could initiate/ implement the same sort of judging system for their contests??  Here's hoping they can "level the playing field" for you.  smiley

Edited by - dmiller on 10/06/2019 12:29:18

Oct 10, 2019 - 7:17:33 AM
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8001 posts since 10/5/2006

From what I’ve seen and heard outcomes have far more to do with being pally with the judge(s). Nothing new there. wink

As Don said, don’t take it so seriously and just enter to have fun and a sociable time. And to paraphrase Tommy Jarrell, someone with enough years under their belt to be eligible for the senior category ought to have learned by now not to care tuppence about placings anyway.

Edited by - m06 on 10/10/2019 07:25:23

Oct 10, 2019 - 8:11:56 AM
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152 posts since 10/9/2019

Why not categorize by years playing rather than years living? I've never entered any musical contest, but I've trophied in a paper plane contest and a limbo contest, so I know what I'm talking about.....
(Yeah, not really)
But I'd love to enter a music contest cuz it would mean there's other musicians

Oct 15, 2019 - 9:55:36 AM
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20 posts since 8/9/2017

I'm 62, and just around the corner from entering my first contest. But first, I have to learn to play my first tune.


Ne'er had a brother, ner a whole pair a' pants.

Oct 18, 2019 - 1:58:19 AM

Bill Rogers (Moderator)


22432 posts since 6/25/2005

Of note: Walt Koken, who’s 73 or so, won Clifftop Sr. Banjo, Sr. Fiddle and finished 2d in open banjo this year. That said, I’d support raising Sr. contest age to 65, when you’re old enough for Medicare.

Nov 2, 2019 - 12:21:12 PM

4570 posts since 2/24/2004

Haha--the main reason I enter is to have fun, let the audience hear my music (since I'm a total unknown player) & fun to meet the other contestants.

But the main reason I think the senior section should be 70+ is that most of those players between 60-70 really are not all that old & are pretty much whippersnappers. :)

They really should compete in the general adult division. :)

Probably they should extend the youth division to around 25--the university kids should definitely have to compete with the toddlers and proteges--they all play excellent & are really cute too so they definitely should compete against each other.  :)

Best wishes & happy holidays,

Mary Z Cox

Nov 4, 2019 - 1:02:36 PM

20 posts since 8/9/2017

Miss Mary, why do you ponder the minimum age for Seniors? From your pictures, it looks to me like you have another 40 years or so to go before that should be an issue. yes

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