Feature Story on North Hills’ Hayden Hackimer


Kathleen Hoffmann

It all began in first grade when Hayden’s grandmother, who felt she was nearing the end of her life, decided to pay for his piano lessons as her final gift to him. This one act of kindness would be the catalyst for Hayden Hackimer’s prolific music career. Later on in fourth grade, he had the choice between the french horn, saxophone, and cello. He ended up falling in love with the cello and joining the orchestra as well as other ensembles. Hayden, an accomplished musician and rising junior, is a multi-instrumentalist who plays piano, cello, tuba, flute, clarinet, and trumpet. His love for music goes beyond just playing these instruments. Music has allowed Hayden to bring people together, no matter their background, and create a unifying experience.


According to him, choosing a favorite instrument out of all of them is like “picking a favorite child,” but the piano has a special place in his heart because “it was what he was given and what he loves the most.” This has opened up a myriad of musical opportunities for him. Hayden became a part of the marching band as a tubist, learning values such as leadership, resilience, and discipline. He joined a number of ensembles, including Jazz 1 and 2, Chamber Orchestra, North Hills String Quartet, Wind Symphony, and Wind Ensemble. Hayden also participated in the musical’s pit orchestra, playing cello for last year’s Once Upon a Mattress. This year he played the piano in 9 to 5. Playing in these ensembles has not only improved his musical abilities, but also his world view. Hayden now sees music not just as a chance to practice, but as “a chance to connect with other people.” 


Earlier this year on the trip to Rochester, NY, Hayden attended the National Association for Music Education (NaFME) convention with the Wind Ensemble. He formed a bond with bass clarinetist Tommy Dineen. They ended up chatting to and from the event and becoming good friends. It was a reminder that music can bring people together in the most surprising of circumstances. Hayden recently participated in clinics at Messiah University, where he played in Chamber Orchestra, Wind Symphony, Jazz Band, and Marching Band. He learned valuable lessons such as conveying sound over a distance and articulating cohesively as an ensemble from a group of highly accomplished college professors. He believes that all of the groups performed well, despite the limited time to choose music, and he looks forward to the upcoming trip to Virginia Beach in 2024. In the future, Hayden plans to attend college somewhere near Pittsburgh to join the Tamburitzans, a dance and music group that performs Croatian folk music. He is considering majoring in music education or music performance.


Hayden’s musical career has been full of highlights, but he will always cherish the moments of belonging and togetherness that he shares with the music department. He hopes that other people can understand that we should always strive for excellence within ourselves, each other, and our community.