Simon Williams


Simon Williams

Clarinet, Saxophone, Ukulele

Classical, jazz

Dip Jazz Studies


Simon started his music career at the age of 9 at Nelson School of Music. He played in the Nelson Regional Youth Orchestra in the early 1980’s at NSOM under the baton of Donald Maurice and Uwe Grodd. He had formal classical clarinet lessons throughout his teenage years with various local teachers as well as Debbie Rawson from Wellington. During this time, he also started playing the Saxophone.

Soon after leaving school he joined the Central band of the Royal New Zealand Air Force for 2 years in Wellington.

He received a Diploma in Jazz studies from Christchurch CTIP in early 2000.

Simon was employed full time by the Nelson School of Music Contemporary Music course for 2 years, teaching musical analysis, keyboards, theory and performance skills before leaving to be a co-founder of “Soundstage”, an after school music and performing arts facility.

Simon is currently a full time music tutor, musician and musical director. He teaches at some primary, intermediate and most of the secondary schools in the area as an itinerant woodwind tutor, as well as teaching all age groups privately. He is also the musical director of 3 school jazz bands, The Nelson Youth Jazz Collective and the Nelson Jazz Club Big Band.

He has an extensive experience in performing in various genres. He plays principle clarinet with the Nelson Symphony Orchestra. He performs with saxophone and clarinet in various jazz groups in the area, including “The Nelson Jazz Quartet” and “Out on Bail”. He also performs in various pop/rock/ funk/gypsy groups including the well-known local acoustic pop/funk duo “FEZ” and the five piece band “Cover Me”.

Skills and expertise

With beginners it is important to develop the solid foundation of sound and technique with regular practice whilst at the same time developing the joy of music creation. The lesson time is to review the progress made during the past week and then develop the material for the student to focus on for the following week to ensure forward motion is maintained.

In his lessons, Simon likes to break down the elements of music into notes, articulation and rhythm, building into phrases. He also focuses on the student’s posture, correct breathing and embouchure etc. Repetition of a grouping of notes in order and at a slow speed is also a technique employed that helps to build muscle memory whilst adding the other elements slowly to the mix, thus enabling vertical learning.

Simon encourages his students to measure their “success percentage rate” with the phrase they are working on. The most common error is that they get impatient and play the phrase too fast and learn mistakes rather than the correct way. Rather than playing it over and over again wrongly until they finally get it right, they will develop much faster if they break it down into the basic and then build it up correctly, adding the different elements as they can. After the building blocks have been put together then the musicality and creativity can begin

Simon has put students forward for classical and jazz exams up to and including grade 8 over many years as well as putting students in the schools through NCEA performance assessments. This experience gives him a great framework for setting goals with the students and achieving them.