Picking For The Prize competition to debut at World of Bluegrass ’23

The International Bluegrass Music Association is teaming up with Martin Guitar and online guitar instructor Marcel Ardans to bring a new guitar picking contest to this year’s World of Bluegrass in Raleigh, NC.

Entitled Picking for the Prize, the competition will take place in two parts, with a new Martin D-28 as the reward for the winner. First comes an online video round where Ardans, who runs the popular Lessons With Marcel web site, will choose five finalists from among all the submissions. Those five will be invited to compete live during World of Bluegrass on September 29, with Marcel picking the winner.

First prize is a new D-28, a private lesson with Marcel, free registration to World of Bluegrass ’24, and the opportunity to play a short set on the Workshop Stage following the finals round during the free weekend Bluegrass Live! Festival in downtown Raleigh. The first runner up will likewise receive free registration for World of Bluegrass ’24, and a prize pack of bluegrass merch.

To enter, simply record a video of yourself playing a traditional fiddle tune on guitar, using a flatpick. Then, post it to Instagram or YouTube, tagging both Martin and IBMA (IG: @martinguitar – YouTube: @martinguitar; IG: @intlbluegrass – YouTube: @ibmawob). You must also include the hashtag #PICKINGFORTHEPRIZE.

The tune selected must be traditional, i.e., no vocals, no originals, and the video must contain no edits. All entries must be posted by August 21.

The judging criteria are as follows:

  • 40 pts – Composition: The judges will assess the arrangement based on factors such as its level of difficulty, uniqueness, and overall musicality. Your arrangement should be original. Plagiarism will not be entertained.
  • 40 pts – Execution: The judges will be attentively listening for the cleanliness and grace of the music performance, observing how each note is executed with precision, and how smoothly the musical phrases transition within the composition.
  • 20 pts – Impression: The judges are seeking a profound comprehension of music and a demonstrated mastery of your instrument during your performance. It is important to remember to exhibit a diverse range of techniques, whether they are specific to the guitar, related to composition, or encompass other musical aspects.

Marcel put together this video explainer in his own particular style.

So change those strings, polish up your pick, work up a fiddle tune, and enter to win the Picking for the Prize competition at the 2023 World of Bluegrass. You can see full contest rules online.

World of Bluegrass runs from September 26-28 at the Raleigh Convention Center, and is followed by the two-day Bluegrass Live! Festival, which includes a headliner show at Raleigh’s Red Hat Amphitheater, and a free street festival along Fayetteville Street downtown.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.