Kevin Simons never expected to have his current job. Even after starting as an adjunct music instructor in 2005, he planned to make his living elsewhere.
“I always thought I would be a community choir director or church musician. Teaching was not central to what I did; I was a performer.”
Over time, Simons’ inclinations changed.
“I saw the need from our students; they were really anxious to learn. That, coupled with the fact that I found I enjoyed teaching more than I thought I would.”
Simons also leads the vocal group Cardinal Singers, now in its fourth year.
“The students wanted a laboratory for what they were going to do when they got out to teach. We needed an ensemble we could take to the schools. It was really student-driven, and it still is.”
The group has achieved rapid success and attained national recognition. Cardinal Singers was selected to perform in the National Cathedral in Washington, DC on March 4, 2012. It’s a rare opportunity; Simons says the Cathedral invites only five to 10 choirs per year. While proud of them, he didn’t expect to be chosen this year.
“I sent a recording as a lark,” Simons admitted. He was thrilled to share the news.
“They were so excited. The first question was, ‘Do you think we can really go?’ The fact that we are such a young ensemble makes this really quite amazing. It’s really a testament to the students’ willingness to work hard.”
And there will be no letting up over the next few months.“We do not want to sound shabby,” Simons said with a laugh. “We’re putting the pedal to the metal.”
While music is an academic pursuit for some, it is an extracurricular activity for others. Simons says there is value in each.
“We train our students to think creatively,” he said. “That’s going to benefit them even if they go on to be astrophysicists. Music is a way of learning. It is a way of training the mind. It’s a way of learning discipline.”
Simons appreciates the support music receives at SVSU. “That’s one of the reasons why it’s great to teach here: we’re in a place that values the arts.”
Simons is on his way to becoming a fixture in that place.
“It’s a great job. It’s one I never thought I would like.”