When Tim Hansen graduated James Sheahan Catholic High School in '96, Orange was a different place.
The young musician was at a loss over where to direct his talent having been repeatedly told he'd never make a career out of music.
"The overarching message was 'it's a waste of time'," Mr Hansen said.
"Thankfully I didn't listen to those people."
Mr Hansen said his interest in music and performance didn't fit the expectations of the sportcentric school administration of that era, which meant few role models and little support.
"Being a gay creative kid - it was not much fun," he said.
VIDEO: Watch Tim Hansen during a lesson ...
Now a Carcoar resident, Mr Hansen divides his time between the Central West and Sydney, where he is a composer in residence at Santa Sabina College, a tutor at the Australian Theatre for Young People and a facilitating artist with Milk Crate Theatre.
He returned to his old school halls on Friday to meet the next generation of musicians.
"I decided in my mid 20s I would figure out how to come back to places like Orange and teach kids the things I wish someone had told me when I was in high school," he said.
I thought 'that wouldn't have happened 20 years ago'Tim Hansen
Mr Hansen met with year nine and 10 students to offer tips on composition and the future year 12 students tips on tackling 2020.
Sheahan's Music and Performing Arts Coordinator Paul Dunn said the former student's prior visits had been well received.
"The kids he's worked with have come up with good compositions and been successful with their HSC," he said.
Year 10 student Matilda Hayes and year nine student Jeremy Milne said music was a hobby rather than a likely career choice, but the lesson had provided some clarity on a difficult topic.
"It's helped me get a handle on how to record all the parts of a piece of music and how I can do that with multiples songs I want to," said Jeremy.
Mr Hansen said while he was lucky to have had the support of his parents and music teachers Ros Keep and Julie Aysom as a teenager the school's music program was underfunded and underdeveloped. He said in 2019 it couldn't be more different.
"I nearly cried when I stepped in here this morning and heard what the chorus was singing," he said.
It was, Waving Through A Window from Dear Evan Hansen, a song about a young man with social anxiety disorder who fabricates a relationship with a deceased student.
"I thought 'that wouldn't have happened 20 years ago'," he said.
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