Percussion and Composition Associate Professor
As a teacher, Mr. Hulling's focus is to increase awareness among his students about the current trends in music, and to encourage their development in the practical aspects of being a musician in the professional world. In addition to teaching private percussion lessons, Mr. Hulling serves as the conductor for the Biola Jazz Ensemble. He also currently teaches the Introduction to Composition class, as well as second year theory and sight-singing courses. Alumnus Matt Ordaz ('14) one of his former private percussion students, remarks that Mr. Hulling is an extremely caring and godly professor. "While studying under him, he inspired me to be the best that I could be musically, but also showed me what it meant to trust God with my career. His mentorship has left a huge impact on my life and equipped me to make a difference in God's Kingdom through music."
Education & Influences
His musical journey began with the hours he spent trying out instruments and listening to music in his grandfather's music store, which was the largest in Des Moines, Iowa. His high school also provided him with many opportunities to perform in jazz bands, percussion ensembles, and marching band, which was the second largest in the country at the time. He was initially drawn to study at Biola through contact with students who attended his church, and he studied at Biola for two years before transferring to California State University, Fullerton.
Teachers include Todd Miller.
Mr. Hulling's professional career as a musician began in the midst of his studies at Cal State Fullerton. He was teaching percussion lessons over 16 hours a week at Jim's House of Music, and also became a part-time member of the Pacific Symphony Orchestra. Playing as a substitute in the west-coast production of the City of Angels at the Schubert Theater was an opportunity that paved the way for his career as a regular performer at the Ahmanson Theater.
Right after graduation, Mr. Hulling began teaching at Biola University and at Cal State Fullerton as a part-time professor. When he started teaching at Biola, he was conductor of the Jazz Ensemble and the Percussion Ensemble, assistant conductor of the Symphonic Winds, and a studio artist teaching private percussion lessons. Later, he began teaching an Introduction to Composition course, as well as courses in Theory and Sight Singing. He became a full-time faculty member in 1995. He says that being a teacher expands his musical and technical understanding because it compels him constantly to ask, "How can I replicate this in my students?" Mr. Hulling sees his teaching as service, saying "The Lord has gifted various teachers with certain skills, and to impart those to others and to teach others to use those skills in ways that glorify God is really a form of discipleship."
Mr. Hulling has had a vibrant performing career over the past 25 years. He has played with many ensembles and artists, including the following:
He has also made appearances on the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon and the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
Currently focusing his performing career in L.A. and Orange County, Mr. Hulling continues to perform with the Pacific Symphony Orchestra as a full-time member of the percussion section. In addition, he regularly plays at the Ahmanson Theater and the Segerstrom Center for the Arts for their musical theater productions. Some of the shows for which he has performed include:
As an active composer, Mr. Hulling's focus is to provide exciting and virtuosic works that will help to expand the percussion repertoire and to highlight the abilities of percussionists. He also has a passion for writing piano music that blend classical and jazz elements. He is currently a staff composer for the Ludwig Music Publishing Company, for which he published "A Modern Approach to the Drum Set" and "A Collection of Marimba Solos." His piece for percussion "The Journey" won the High Music Award at the 1997 Percussion World Championships. His work has also been featured on the "Crosscurrents" CD released in 2003, which showcases the works of Biola faculty composers. Last year, current Biola student Matt Ordaz ('14) recorded a CD of his compositions for marimba.
Faith in Action
Throughout his career he has seen God's hand of provision in getting him started in the professional music world and in sustaining him throughout his career. He tells his students, "It may be hard to make it in the music business, but as Christians, we know that God is ultimately the one calling the shots in our careers as well as our personal lives. If we are meant to get a certain gig or certain position in a performing group, nothing could keep us from being successful because, at the end of the day, we realize God is our contractor and we can be sure that He is in control of every aspect of our lives including our music careers".
Mr. Hulling is a strong advocate for the importance of an excellent undergraduate education from a Christian worldview. He notes that Biola's approach is a remarkable one: "In a day and age where a university environments tend to foster a close-minded approach to education (concentrating only on naturalism, materialism, and relativism); Biola is bold enough to consider all the aspects of our existence on earth, including the spiritual elements which are quite frankly the most important things mankind will ever examine during our short lives." He also commends the Biola requirement that each student graduate with the equivalent of a minor in Biblical studies. He says, "I personally can think of no better way to send students out into the world, than to have them equipped to both understand and share the gospel of Jesus Christ."
Mr. Hulling also recognizes that this deep understanding of the gospel is an important part of the Conservatory's basic, day-to-day operation. "We have the privilege not just to make music, but also to know in a very real way why we make music. We see and understand that, though music is certainly an art, it is much more than that; it is a way to reflect the creativity and glory of our Father in heaven. This is why I like teaching at Biola University. There is no separation between our academic careers, our future vocational careers, and our spiritual commitments to God."