Who’s the leader of the club…?

Mike Lawson • ChoralPerspective • March 20, 2017

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This month’s Perspective column is a salute to Tim Hill. It’s likely you don’t know Tim. But if you have made a trip to Disney in the past 25 years and taken in a school band, orchestra or choral group performing, you’ve seen Tim’s work.

If you’ve ever brung your group to Disney for a festival performance, or to march down Main Street in a parade, or participated in a workshop, you have experienced his work. It’s only been the last couple of years that I have been acquainted with Tim, the man behind the music education mission at Disney, and throughout this time period I’ve been privileged to meet with him and his team, or view a festival performance/ workshop, I’ve left each interaction feeling equally as excited about the people who produce the programs as I am impressed by the offerings. Their enthusiasm and dedication to making a great experience that meets core music standards, providing a once-­in-­a­-lifetime opportunity for many students, is infectious. It helps that Tim is a nice guy, humble, and probably going to be somewhat embarrassed by all this attention. Hey Tim, it’s well­-deserved.

It’s clear to me that Disney Performing Arts and Tim Hill were never out to just sell hotel nights, theme park tickets, souvenirs, and meals. Obviously, that’s what funds the department, and allows a team like this to exist, but everything that attracts you as a music educator to go through the work of raising so much money, in addition to the madness it takes to voluntarily embark on a cross­-country trip with teenagers, would just be a roller­coaster ride and a march in a parade were it not for the amazing team he has assembled, and his vision for all­-things Disney Performing Arts. His leadership for over a quarter of a century making sure that students have an experience like no other is deeply rooted in his demand for a quality educational experience. I’ve talked to people who report to him, people who used to work with him over the years, I have heard nothing less than praise.

This kind of team doesn’t get assembled in a vacuum, and it does not innovate, or run efficiently, or generate the enthusiasm of a talented staff without great leadership. Tim Hill is an impressive leader, a forward thinker, and has set the bar very high for every other music education program in the world held at any kind of resort or theme park. He and his team have continually strived for innovation, consulting with educators, hiring former music educators and working professional musicians to ensure that the quality of the content is as exciting as the chance to ride Space Mountain.

After an amazing career making countless music students and educators happy they went through all they had to go through to experience the Disney magic with their groups, Tim is leaving Disney. So please, be sure to read this month’s UpClose: Tim Hill feature. See where he is going, and why. Find out a little more about how some of the programs you’ve taken a generation of students to evolved, what the brains behind the program was thinking, and where Disney Performing Arts is heading. One thing is for certain, Tim Hill is leaving behind some mighty big ears to fill.

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