Dordt College News

Dordt Student Advances in National Drum Competition

October 11, 2007


Jamin Hubner, a theology major at Dordt from Avon, S.D., recently advanced to the district level of the world’s largest drum competition. If he wins the next round in Minneapolis on October 24, he’ll continue to the Chicago regionals in hopes of entering the grand finals which take place in Las Vegas, Nevada. Not only does he represent the Sioux Falls Guitar Center store in this national tournament, but also Dordt College.

Hubner has been playing drums since he was six years old. As a Dordt student, he has been involved in the concert band and orchestra, GIFT (Growing In Faith Together) team, Northwest Iowa Symphony Orchestra, and Dordt Jazz Band.

“The music program at Dordt has without a doubt helped me become the percussionist I am today. Dr. Duitman has always challenged me to progress and has been a constant source of encouragement since day one,” he says. “Dr. Horton has also become an irreplaceable part of my learning experience at Dordt, especially in jazz music.” Jamin also teaches drum lessons to middle and high school students in the Sioux Center area. “I love teaching younger kids. They learn quick and have energy…and I really do think the teacher learns more than the students most of the time.”

The Guitar Center Drum-Off, now at its nineteenth year, takes place in Guitar Center stores all over America. Drummers of all kinds are invited to show-off their abilities on a professional drum kit in a three minute solo after getting five minutes of prep-time. “It’s the shortest five minutes of my life,” Jamin says. “I’m extremely picky about how my drums are set up, so it gets pretty frantic setting everything in the right place.”

The first phase in the tournament is prelimination, where drummers sign up and enter in one of three drum-offs. Jamin competed in the prelimination phase at the Guitar Center in Sioux Falls, SD, which recently opened last year. Judges, who are usually local players in bands or music degree students, come and score their playing on creativity, difficulty, and overall drumming ability.

“It’s terribly hard to know what the judges want,” Jamin says. “After the first round, I realized these particular judges didn’t actually want to be impressed with power and speed; they wanted something more musical.” At the store finals, he tied scores with another drummer his age, and in a two minute drum-off between the two, Jamin broke the tie and won. “I’m not sure if they were going to like the format of my solo,” he says. “It was different and he was a really good player, but I guess it worked.”

But, winning isn’t everything to Jamin. “After beating this guy he came up and asked me to teach him lessons right there on the spot. I was ecstatic! For a half hour we taught each other and hooked up, which was worth far more to me than winning or getting free gear.” He also learned a lot about what it means to be a good drummer. “The whole competition experience was also interesting because I confirmed a theory of mine that I had before entering: the best players and winners were those who were open to learning, and the losers were always the ones who didn’t talk to others, and seemed stubborn about changing their drum setup or style. So it seems seeking knowledge and humility ensure better skills.”

Prizes are given to winners at each stage of the tournament and progress as contestants move up. The grand prize for this year’s competition is a 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser, with $10,000 in cash and sponsorships being second. “I could pay maybe a semester at Dordt with that” he says jokingly, “but we’ll see what happens. I’m just happy to learn from others and make connections with people.”

“It’s a little stressful knowing how many people want you to win, and what you have to create in three minutes to get there. But I trust God, whom I call the ‘giver of the groove,’ will put something in my head and something on sticks to play for His glory.”

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