Mark Simos

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Mark Simos is an acclaimed songwriter and tune composer, with over 200 songs recorded by artists ranging from Grammy-winning bluegrass and roots artists Alison Krauss and Union Station and Molly Tuttle A.D. '14 to Australian rock icon Jimmy Barnes.

Simos has taught all primary core courses of Berklee's songwriting curriculum, and has created new curriculum, including three levels of Guitar Techniques for Songwriters, Songwriting Collaboration, and Songwriting and Tunewriting in Roots Styles. Simos has authored two books on songwriting for Berklee Press, as well as book chapters and articles on songwriting and songwriting education. In addition, Simos is faculty coordinator for Berklee's annual Songs for Social Change Contest.

Simos holds an interdisciplinary B.A. from the University of Southern California (emphasis on ethnomusicology and folklore), and a master's degree in computer science from the University of Pennsylvania. Simos also completed specialized training in organizational development at the Centre for Social Development (Sussex, England), and a five-year in-service training in the Spacial Dynamics system of movement education. Before he shifted his focus to songwriting education, Simos worked for two decades as a research scientist, consultant, and methodology developer in the field of domain modeling for systematic software reuse. His varied background—in songwriting and songwriting pedagogy, software methodology, organizational development, and ethnographic approaches to technology—informs the perspective he brings to recent work on intersections of emerging AI technologies and songwriting/creative process, as reflected in his serving as a judge for a number of AI songwriting contests.

  • Cowrote "Grass Valley" on Crooked Tree by Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway, 2023 Grammy winner for Best Bluegrass Album
  • Songs on multiple RIAA Platinum and Gold, ARIA Gold, and Grammy- and IBMA Bluegrass Music Award–winning albums
  • Berklee Faculty Fellowship Grant, 2008
  • Ted Pease Excellence in Teaching Award, Berklee, 2011
In Their Own Words

"I ground my teaching in my creative experience as a musician, songwriter, and composer. By modeling reflective practice for my students as integral to my own creative work, I try to approach teaching and my continuing learning as a form of collaborative shared inquiry. When I started teaching at Berklee, one friend and colleague called me the "weird modal guy" in the Songwriting Department! I knew only a few of my students would be familiar with the traditional roots genres for which I was best known. Following in a venerable Berklee tradition, I've been able to create a new curriculum for those roots styles. More importantly, I model for my students finding your own path as a songwriter, building on their unique constellation of musical influences, unbeholden to the perceived pressures of formulaic mainstream markets. So my focus is on techniques and process skills you can apply to writing effectively and innovatively in any style or genre. I also let students educate me (and each other) about the music and artists they know best, exploring the deep craft embodied in the great songwriting of any style."

"My 360-degree songwriting approach is a kind of songwriter's cross-training that reflects this philosophy—there is no one right way to write a song, but if you favor only a few strategies you limit your scope and range. Challenging yourself to experiment, to write from and in all directions, develops versatility and agility; you can write in ways that remain authentic to you while being able to collaborate responsively and nimbly with artists with differing styles and working processes. With these approaches, I try to prepare songwriters for the diverse music industry I hope to see them create—not a pop monoculture but a dynamic mosaic of stylistic niches reflecting the diverse world for whom we are writing our songs."

Kimberly Fraser and Mark Simos play Cape Breton tunes at WGBH