Barbara J. Simon's career path started early. After playing the keyboard as a child, two years in NJ All State Chorus, and winning two statewide 1st Place Dramatic Awards - she took a year off before college to teach for a Wurlitzer store that rented their upright pianos. They offered her a deal – if she taught lessons in their clients' homes, and the family then bought the piano, she received a commission. After teaching many lessons, she closed her purse strings over even more cash from two pianos sales - and realized at 18 years old that there was more than one way to make money with her musical theater skills.
Years later, this "think outside-the-box" attitude led her to write her book Singing – Body and Soul - providing teenagers with an original art and science-based, playful textbook on singing. The book is endorsed by Stephen Flaherty (Two-time Tony winning composer of Ragtime and Once on This Island's Revival) who called her text “a wise, witty and accessible book on the technique and art of singing . . .” And a cappella wizard Deke Shanon (creator of the Pitch Perfect movies) gave the book a 4-star review on Goodreads - saying “A breezy, chatty yet still nuanced and insightful series of tips and best practices for singers . . .”
She has studied singing and vocal technique with the best teachers she could find - Joseph Scott (whose students included Tony nominated singers Sheryl Lee Ralph, Karen Akers & Anita Morris), and Debra Byrd (head voice coach on American Idol the first ten years and currently the Vocal Program Chair at Musicians Institute.)
Barbara’s behind-the-scenes work and comic performances in two award winning NYU films (one on a bicycle, the other in a hoop skirt!) resulted in on-air screenings for both films on HBO. Her expertise led to a job marketing a series of independent feature films in NYC, from stories for kids to action adventures. With a personal recommendation from Doug Herzog (Viacom President), she moved on to work with the Nickelodeon / MTV marketing department. This included writing, directing, and producing a series of Nick at Nite national radio ads.
Grateful to help young writers in their love for storytelling, Barbara was a two-time National Judge in 1989 and 1990 at the Scholastic Writing Awards for the Dramatic Scriptwriting finalists, grades 7 - 12 in TV, film, radio and stage (which is akin to lyric-writing). Founded in 1923, the program is the nation's longest-running educational initiative to support scholarships for creative teens, with many now-famous alumna.
Barbara's ability to teach vocal technique, translate performance skills, and develop professional singers landed her music studio a 2014 Hoboken Chamber of Commerce Business Award Finalist Nomination as an Education Provider – one of the top three school Finalists of the 20 full-time school systems competing.
News of Singing - Body and Soul reached Colgate University in Hamilton NY. Barbara was granted a fellowship to attend their weeklong 2015 Colgate Writers' Conference. Matthew Leone (Director) wrote, "A thousand thanks for sharing your instructive, highly engaging work with us. We'd be delighted to have you amongst us as a retreater for the Colgate Writers' Conference."
No stranger to performing herself, Barbara has sung at many venues including:
*The Elks Club in Hoboken NJ, as one of three Sinatra Tribute singers. One other singers was her student Peter Cafasso who sings in NJ/NY Italian restaurants.
*The Methodist Church in Madison NJ, as an offertory soloist for Sunday services, performing sacred music by L Bernstein, A Dvorak, J Massenet, S Liddle, M Costa, etc.
*The Lillagaard Bed & Breakfast in Ocean Grove NJ, performing in their Tea Room for a Mother/Daughter Tea, and in the lobby during the town’s Victorian Christmas tour.
Barbara uses all of her experiences as a vocal performer and thespian to teach vocal technique and health along with performance and acting through song. By blending two years of Musical Theater training at NYU Tisch School of the Arts with the broader independent study program at NYU Gallatin’s University Without Walls, (which included work in humanities, education, writing, science, spirituality, and classic texts) - Barbara earned her BA degree with honors from New York University.
She is still thinking outside-the-box.