Brian Simmons (Mr.B)
Driven, compassionate and focused are just a few words used to describe Brian Simmons by his peers and fellow artists. Brian has educated hundreds of students, performed for thousands of audiences and impacted countless musicians with his innate sense of musicianship, professionalism and love for teaching. As a Pianist, Composer and Music Educator he has more than 15 years of experience in the arena and that is only the beginning.
Teaching is second nature for Brian. The proud alumnus of Berklee College of Music earned a Bachelor of Arts in Film Scoring and Music Education. He is committed to ensuring the upcoming generation of musical artists is equipped for success. This is shown with his service on myriad musical and educational panels and platforms. He utilizes the opportunities to teach, impart into, and empower his audiences. Simmons has not only educated but mentored students of all ages from different walks of life. Brian takes great joy in the success stories of those he mentors. He mentored one of his students as she wrote and composed more than 30 songs. Of those songs, 9 were selected and placed on the first album that she later released and sold. As a result, her music was purchased and licensed by a corporation for use.
I enrolled at a private Christian college in Wenham, Massachusetts with a major in Exercise Physiology. I knew this was the major for me. I was athletic and studious. What I wasn’t strong in was chemical formulas. I failed critical science classes that were required to excel in the program. Talk about a major blow to the ego. After picking up the pieces of my bruised post-secondary career I came to realize that I failed not because I couldn’t do the work, but because I wasn’t operating in my strength zone. After, an honest talk with myself and meeting with my professor I had to accept that this major was not for me.
I took the time for personal discovery and began to understand where my strengths lied. It was connecting with people in a personal way. Along with being a fighter for others, I enjoyed relating, communicating, and encouraging them to be the best version of themselves. This moment was one of many that altered my life. I changed my major to social work and graduated with my Bachelors Degree. My sights were set on making a difference in the lives of others.
Growing up as Yamaha Music student in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, Lily studied the Yamaha Electone at the age of 9 and began an exciting journey in music. She represented her native country Malaysia and won 3rd Prize in the 2008 Yamaha Asia Electone Festival, while teaching for Yamaha Music schools and obtaining a Diploma in Music from the Yamaha Academy of Arts & Music. Driven by her passion in jazz music, Lily moved to the United States in 2010 and switched to jazz piano as well as completing her Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies in West Virginia University and Master of Music in Jazz Performance & Pedagogy from University of Missouri.
Lily believes in the importance of continuous growth as a musician, and enjoys instilling the passion of learning music in others. She has coached jazz combos and big bands, taught private lessons, elementary music in public schools, and group classes from beginner to advanced level students.
She has performed internationally and nationally as well as worked with world class jazz musicians namely John Clayton, Byron Stripling, Bob Shepherd, James Carter and Mike Mainieri. Some of her feature performances include the Joan Rivers Show, Jazz Education Network, West Virginia Wine and Jazz Festival, COBRA Ensemble at International Society of Improvised Music (ISIM) Conference, and the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra Jazz Camp. As a student in college she led her piano trio to win the Emerging Artist Competition in 2013, the first jazz group to do so. She also reignited and performed as the house band of the Jazz Night, a weekly jazz jam session that continues as a tradition up until today in Morgantown, WV.
Lily is also an accomplished composer and arranger, she has written music for high school marching bands, jazz bands, combos and was also the featured pianist and composer for the MU Concert Jazz Band CDs recorded in 2013 and 2014. She believes that music is a gift that teaches us life, and it is her passion to use her musical knowledge to teach and to be taught.