Hand Drum Competition

AIA Competition Guidelines and Rules

This is a new competition for the 2022 National Order of the Arrow Conference. Individuals and Hand Drum team members MUST be from the same lodge. All drum members must be under 21 years of age at the time of the competition, members of the Order of the Arrow, and registered participants at the event.  A lodge may enter individual(s) or teams of no more than three (3). Individuals and groups must furnish their own hand drums and drum sticks.  A contestant cannot enter as both an individual and as a part of a team.


  1. Contestants may be a single singer or a group of no more than three singers, each with their own hand drum.
  2. Contestants may be male or female or can be a mix of both genders.
  3. All contestants need to be prepared to sing at least two round dance songs.  The first song will be the competition song.  The second will be called for if a run-off is necessary.
  4. Songs should be sung 4 times through.
  5. The time limit is less than five minutes. Timing begins when the judges invite the individual or team to come to the mc to sing.
  6. Contestants will introduce themselves, and their lodge name.  They can share the name of the song and where they learned it, but no dissertation will be permitted. The introduction should be less than a minute.
  7. Going over the allotted five minutes will result in a 5-point deduction from each judge. All teams must be ready to perform prior to their assigned times.
  8. Point deductions will be assessed for not following guidelines.


  1. Male/Female Singers may wear dance outfits.  Dance clothes are very acceptable but not necessary. Shawls are not necessary while in a hand drum contest.
  2. Males/Female contestants, not in dance outfits, should wear long pants (long pants or capris for females) and a pullover or collared shirt while singing. No bare feet, open-toe shoes, or midriff tops. Improper attire will result in a 5-point deduction from each judge.

The Registration Form can be filled out with the Google Form titled “NOAC Competition Registration” at this link.

  1. The contestant(s) must check in to confirm competition registration, receive a performance time, and receive up-to-date information on mandatory meetings. Registration is Monday, July 25, 2022, at the American Indian Activities office.
  2. A mandatory meeting of all contestants will be held one half hour after the conclusion of the Opening Arena Show, on Monday, July 25, 2022. The location of the meeting will be available at registration/check-in.
  3. The top Hand Drum will be given the opportunity to perform at the Conference Festival powwow on Friday of NOAC.

Research and other questions regarding the Hand Drum Competition should be addressed to:
2022 NOAC AIA Competitions Manager:
James Barton
Email: oaaiastaff@gmail.com
Phone: (843) 557-7038

Contestants will be judged and awarded a score by each judge on the judging panel in each of the areas discussed below. Some areas have mandatory point deductions associated with failure to comply with stated guidelines. Each judge in the affected area will take the mandatory point deductions. Contestant standing/placement is determined by totaling all points received from the judges. Actual scores/points given by judges will not be provided to the contestants, however, critique sheets from all judges will be provided to the contestants at the conclusion of the competition. The judges will determine the judging criteria and all decisions are final.

  1. Synchronization of Drum and Voice [MAXIMUM POINTS (15)]
    All competition songs should be sung in the appropriate manner.  Contestants singing as a group should sound like a group instead of individuals. The ending of the song should be definite with no over-beats.
  2. Sound Quality [MAXIMUM POINTS (15)]
    The sound of the drum should not overpower, be louder than the singer. Groups should not be lower in pitch/volume from the lead.  Songs should be sung at the appropriate tempo.
  3. Language and Pronunciation [MAXIMUM POINTS (15)
    Songs should be sung with the correct vocables and/or words.
  4. General Effect and Impression [MAXIMUM POINTS (10)]
    The overall general effect and impression of the songs will also be considered. Some of the factors that will be considered are: the contestants’ confidence, presentation, care of the drum and stick, timeliness, not going over the stated time limit, etc.
  5. Constructive Comments [NOT SCORED]

Awards will be given to the top three contestants. Special Honorable Mention awards may be given, if deemed appropriate.