By Joel Ayala and Colin Walker
Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) teacher Todd Simon is a multi-instrumentalist who expresses his love for music to the students he teaches. He teaches our Music Tech, Piano, and Guitar courses.
One of Simon’s most recent professional projects is an album named “If You Will” by Brazilian vocalist Flora Purim. This album has been nominated for this year’s Best Latin Album of the Year.
This is not his first run at the Grammy’s as he arranged and recorded horns for an album called “Fly Rasta” by Ziggy Marley which won Best Reggae Album of the Year back in 2015.
His work has been sampled by Ghostface Killah from the Wung Tang Clan and has acted in the films “That Thing You Do” and “Spiderman” as a trumpeter.
Simon also worked on a song titled “Good Lord” by Lecrae where he and his daughter arranged and recorded the horns.
He has appeared on SNL, The Grammy’s, The Ellen Show, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and Jimmy Kimmel Live as a live performer. Simon has really lived it all.
“Music has truly brought me the most amazing life,” Simon said. “I have been able to meet some amazing people and work with some of music’s best.”
Outside of school he leads an African Jazz ensemble called Ethio Cali.
“The music we make and play is the most expressive I have ever experienced,” Simon said.
Simon has had a passion for music ever since he was a child. His elementary school music teacher, Mrs. Rosenberg instilled a love for music in him that stayed with him throughout his life. His college professors were major influences on him as well, which helped him grow his education in music further.
Both growing up and today, Mr. Simon has always idolized Quincy Jones, now 89, who started out as a trumpeter and later became one of the greatest producers of all time. He produced Michael Jackson’s all time best selling album “Thriller” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” television show. Simon feels that his talent and work ethic is something to be admired by all.
“Quincy Jones is the definitive GOAT,” Simon said.
Although Simon has produced numerous professional recordings for his main instrument the trumpet, and worked with many great musicians, his main focus is education. He was a band director for over 18 years. He has made it his goal to share as much incredible music knowledge with his students as possible.
Simon’s Granada Hills Charter teaching career started in 2019. What the music industry has taught Simon is to dream big! He always makes sure that his students know the importance of living a life working towards making your dreams come true. He also accompanies the Music Makers Club in D2 on Mondays after school, helping even students not in his own classes.
Senior Shant Voskanian is a member of the Music Makers Club. Simon has had a major impact on his musical education by introducing him to different software programs and music producers.
“Ever since I joined his class, I have had a completely different perspective and understanding on how music works,” Voskanian said. “While the students are creating music, I always see him running around the classroom to make sure he helps every student.”
Simon also provides a different perspective by video calling other music producers so that they can share the basics of music production. Simon also shares his various music tastes with students to broaden their perspectives. When students walk into class they are met with new songs of different genres.
“Sometimes the songs that Mr. Simon plays inspire the songs that I create too,” Voskanian said.
Simon works hard every day on his own craft and his students’. In the classroom, Simon always makes sure to cater to each student and their projects. His students vastly appreciate his work ethic and his passion for music. We wish him luck at the 2023 Grammy Awards Ceremony.