Online Old Time Banjo Contest Rules/Overview


Step 1: Visit and pay the $20 registration fee.

Step 2: Submit videos between Saturday, February 18, 2023 at 9:00 AM Eastern Time and Monday, February 20, 2023 at 3:00 PM Eastern Time.

  • Submissions will be accepted starting on Saturday, February 18 at 9:00 AM Eastern Time and will CLOSE on Monday, February 20 at 3:00 PM Eastern Time. NO submissions will be accepted outside of this official submission period.
  • Late submissions will not be considered even if the registration fee has already been paid. NO refunds will be issued.
  • Any video submissions received without payment will be deleted.




Preliminary-round contestants should submit ONE video of ONE tune or song of no more than THREE MINUTES in length. Contest entries may be played solo or may feature one accompanist playing any traditional old time instrument other than banjo. If a duet is submitted, judges will only consider the banjo playing.


At the beginning of the video entry, contestants MUST announce their names and the date of submission, and they should indicate that the video is for the 2023 Online Old Time Banjo Contest. This protocol is meant to eliminate the possibility of old videos being reused. The judges want to hear new performances! Contestants’ faces and their instruments should be in full view of the camera.

Videos MUST be submitted in one of three ways:

Please email us at with any questions.



Medley-style selections will not be judged.

Singing is allowed but is not encouraged and will not factor into the judges’ scores; only the banjo playing will be judged.



Rhythm and timing (20%): judges will listen for consistent tempo and evenness of timing.

Tonal qualities (20%): judges will listen for pleasing tone, quality of tuning, and intonation (if a fretless banjo is used).

Expression and soul (20%): judges will consider the degree to which the performance has life, as opposed to sounding flat and mechanical.

Execution (20%): judges will assess how well the player executes whatever it is that the player is attempting to do. For instance, a simpler tune or rendition played very cleanly with solid timing will receive a higher score than a more complex tune or rendition played less cleanly or with more erratic timing.

Old time style (20%): highest scores will be given to traditional old time tunes played in traditional old time styles. Clawhammer and non-bluegrass fingerstyles are welcome!



The judging panel will consist of three judges with considerable professional experience playing old time music. Each judge will keep separate scores and will not discuss scoring during the contest. The three judges’ scores will be added together to determine the total score for each contestant. Contestant scores will not be made publicly available. All decisions made by the judges are final.

The TOP FIVE contestants will be determined and announced on Tuesday, February 21 at 12:00 PM Eastern Time on the contest Facebook event page.



The top five contestants will enter a separate final round of competition. Finalists should submit ONE video of TWO tunes or songs, EACH between NINETY SECONDS and THREE MINUTES in length. Finalists are allowed to retune or change banjos between selections; however, the camera must remain rolling. This requirement is meant to mimic the final round of a “live” contest, in which the two selections are played back-to-back, and to encourage a timely transition from one selection to the next. Otherwise, the same rules, video submission guidelines, and judging criteria will apply to this round; however, each tune or song will be separately judged.

Instructions for submitting final-round videos will be provided to finalists. Submissions will be accepted starting on Wednesday, February 22 at 9:00 AM Eastern Time and will CLOSE on Friday, February 24 at 3:00 PM Eastern Time. Late submissions will not be considered.

The final-round videos will be LIVE-STREAMED on Sunday, February 26 at 7:00 PM Eastern Time through the Elderly Instruments YouTube Channel as well as the Mike Seeger Commemorative Old Time Banjo Festival Facebook page. The AWARDS will be determined and announced at the conclusion of the broadcast.