Biography & Clients’ Quotes
Barbara is delighted to help aspiring artists reach their dreams through teaching and coaching voice. As an accomplished artist and author herself, she is trained in musical theater and is experienced in film, television, writing, marketing and education. The owner and manager of her own studio (BJ Simon Singing Studio), Barbara combines these experiences to provide creative training for her students who often enjoy long-term success. Barbara is a graduate (with honors) of the New York University (NYU) Gallatin School of Individualized Study, and also attended the NYU Tisch Musical Theater Program.
AUTHOR OF “SINGING – BODY AND SOUL:” You may have already read Barbara’s book, Singing – Body and Soul: A Medley of Fresh Ideas about Musical Theater (SBS). It’s full of lively voice training ideas for young singers. The book is endorsed by STEPHEN FLAHERTY, the Tony-winning composer of Ragtime.
AWARD FINALIST: Barbara’s studio was recently recognized by the HOBOKEN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE BUSINESS AWARDS in the category of Education Provider as one of three finalists among the twenty local schools that were nominated by students and their parents.
NATIONAL CONTEST JUDGE: If you’ve ever entered the SCHOLASTIC WRITING AWARDS CONTEST, Barbara may have read your work. For two years in a row, she was one of three national judges for the finalists of the Dramatic Scriptwriting category (grades 7 – 12) encompassing entries for TV, film, radio, or stage.
SPEAKER AND PERFORMER: In her career as singer, teacher and coach, Barbara has delivered a dozen creative presentations on insightful and uplifting themes including:
- Double-bill book presentation on SBS book with Blue Collar Broadway author Dr. Timothy White, New Jersey City University associate history professor, at Little City Books, Hoboken NJ.
- The Highlands A Cappella Festival teaching a class on “Successful Auditioning,” Allendale NJ.
- Hoboken Sinatra Idol Contest – annual judge advising and ranking contestants in front of live audience.
- NYU GALLATIN ARTS FESTIVAL song / text presentation on SBS book at The Knitting Factory NYC.
- Three-night original youth group series on some psychological issues around Halloween at St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church, Cherry Hill NJ. See New World Outlook nat’l magazine article on Media page
FILM AND TELEVISION: Earlier in her career, Barbara enjoyed working as Director of Marketing for Double Helix Films, Inc. (DHF) – a feature-film production company. While she worked there, the company provided financing for, and distributed internationally, more than 60 films including John Sayles’ Academy Award-nominated Matewan, and the Sundance Film Festival dramatic finalist Impure Thoughts. Then, with a personal recommendation from Doug Herzog (current President of Viacom, overseeing MTV and VH1), Barbara landed a Project Manager job (Marketing Production Department) at the music-driven television network NICKELODEON.
HBO BROADCAST: Perhaps you’ve seen Barbara on HBO. While at NYU, she explored many aspects of the entertainment industry, and was fortunate to perform in two award-winning short NYU films that were broadcast on HBO – titled “Hidden Desires” and “Grease Monkey.” Both films were written and directed by Laurie Craig – head screenwriter for Ella Enchanted and Ramona and Beezus. Barbara also served as Assistant Director for the 18 minute “Grease Monkey,” and the film received an ACADEMY AWARD SHORT FILM NOMINATION.
Barbara loves experimenting with new ideas, learning new songs, and studying ways that the arts and sciences intersect. During her diverse career in the entertainment industry, Barbara has always maintained a private singing studio, teaching around her busy schedule. She has also apprenticed to several master voice teachers and continues to study the many aspects of the human voice. Other credits include:
- Member of the National Associations of Teachers of Singing (NATS)
- Fellowship granted for the writer’s retreat at Colgate University Writers Conference in Hamilton, NY
- Sinatra Singer at “My Way: Celebrating Frank Sinatra’s Centennial Benefit” at the Hoboken Elks Club, NJ
- Voice Teacher for Art of Motion Studio, Ridgewood, NJ, and Dieckow School of Music, Hoboken, NJ
- Directed Musicals for The Hudson School and Mustard Seed School in Hoboken, NJ
- Cabaret Singer in one-woman shows with musical director Stephen Flaherty, New York, NY
QUOTES FROM COACHING CLIENTS
“It was not until I began writing my solo music that I realized what an influence Barbara has been on the way I think about songwriting and lyrics. I am so grateful for this, and for her writing my letter of recommendation, and for improving my voice. Without these things, I am certain I would not have been accepted to the NYU Clive Davis School of Recorded Music.”
“Thank u for helping to heal my voice. I always credit u for what u did for me. And always recommend u . . .U really helped me with emotion . . techniques for My voice. Ur the best!!! Highly recommended!!!”
“Barbara takes a song and helps bring new meaning to it. She makes sure you understand what you are singing and that you feel every word. As a teenager who loves to sing, it is important to have an emotional tie to the music. And, most importantly, (when preparing for the ‘Be Wicked!’ singing contest finals) she help make me “Glinda-licious!”
“Taking singing lessons was really going over an edge for me. I couldn’t have been in better hands with Barbara. She met me exactly where I was at and made me feel comfortable. I had wished to sing one song well. Working with Barbara turns out to be more than that. It’s about expressions, finding my voice, playfulness and feeling the song. It’s really a growth experience.”
“I was just searching for someone to teach me how to sing, but I found someone that has been teaching how the music is a part of me, physically, mentally and emotionally. This is so awesome because Barbara is teaching me how to further fall in love with music. She has an amazing positivity and patience. Working one on one with her has been a great experience.”
“Singing in a legit musical was terrifying to me. However, when I saw the casting notice for ‘The Rocky Horror Show,’ I was determined to at least audition. Barbara was absolutely amazing with her complete preparation for this audition, far beyond vocal technique. I was cast in a great role and sang in almost every number in the show! I could not have done it without her.”
“Fantastic! Barbara melds classic training methods with a more “’holistic’ style of approaching voice and singing. As a working singer looking to hone my skills before a big recording session, Barbara has been great at refining my less than favorable habits while highlighting the positive attributes of my voice. I walk out of each lesson very happy and more confident in my abilities than the week prior.”