Cynthia Simmons has taught music for over thirty years in Illinois, Michigan and Missouri. She has been a choral instructor on the high school, middle school, and elementary levels, as well as a teacher of elementary general music, grades 1-6, music appreciation and private piano and voice lessons.
While in Michigan, Cynthia directed the Troy Honors Choir, an auditioned group of 4th-8th graders from the Troy School District. She also served as a choral and vocal solo adjudicator for the Michigan School Vocal Music Association, including the state solo contest to choose the Michigan Youth Arts finalists.
Cynthia’s choirs, ensembles and piano and voice students have won many superior ratings and awards over the years. In 2003 one of her vocal students was a finalist for the Michigan Youth Arts Award. She has a long track record and reputation for encouraging students to continue in music and for rescuing students who would have otherwise quit. She also has a reputation for transforming choirs and improving tonal production.
Cynthia began teaching private lessons at MAI in 2005 and was chosen by Millicent Daughtery in 2008 to direct the Young MAIstersingers. She is a member of the American Choral Directors Association, the National Association for Music Educators, and the Missouri Music Educator’s Association.
Cynthia was taught and mentored in piano by the internationally renowned piano teacher and Interlochen faculty member, Lawrence Morton. She believes that part of the success of teaching piano involves a vast knowledge of repertoire and matching the repertoire to the temperament to the student. She has experimented for years with the idea of finding just the right piece to encourage the student to want to practice. She aims to expose each student to all periods of piano literature as well as giving them a strong foundation in technical development and music theory. Every year she has had several students represented in the MAI Honors Recital.
Cynthia’s philosophy of choral and vocal music instruction includes the idea that every child has a singing voice and can be assisted in discovering that voice. She loves teaching the middle school age because this is the age when many students get discouraged and quit music. Cynthia has had great success with mentoring and counseling students through this stage and seeing them continue their musical careers throughout high school, college and beyond. She has particularly studied and experienced success with boy’s and girl’s changing voices. She also believes in using music, particularly in the choral setting, as a vehicle for teaching character development and principles.
Presently, Cynthia also volunteers as the vocal coach for the Kansas City Girls Choir. She loves staying in touch through Facebook with many former students who are music teachers, music ministers, opera singers, and continuing music lovers.