New York-based Anglo-French pianist and composer Jim Funnell started leading his own trio in his early teens, performing at jazz clubs by the time he was in high school. Dedicating himself to the study of both classical and jazz piano, he was awarded a full tuition scholarship from Berklee College of Music, where he was exposed to a diversity of styles and cultures. At Berklee, in addition to studying with jazz luminaries such as Danilo Pérez, Joanne Brackeen, Laszlo Gardony, David Fiuczynski, Joe Lovano, and George Garzone, Jim had the opportunity to perform with Dave Douglas, Marcus Miller, Meshell Ndgeocello, and Yellowjackets members Russell Ferrante and Marcus Baylor. Upon graduation, he traveled to Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil, soaking up Latin America’s folklore and Afro-Latin rhythms. These early experiences helped shape both his musical language and purpose of inspiring and encouraging uniqueness in others.
Jim Funnell has released five albums as a leader/co-leader of both his own band “Word Out” (modern creative jazz) and AfuriKo (African infused jazz duo with percussionist Akiko Horii). Drawing from diverse influences from around the world in a spirit of respect and celebration, he has notably garnered reviews from All About Jazz, London Jazz News, and Jazz Magazine. His colorful approach to writing music earned him the Composition Prize at the “Trophées du Sunside” in Paris (2011) as well as SACEM’s “Aide à l’autoproduction” (funding for self-produced albums provided by the French Society of Authors, Composers, and Publishers of Music).
Constantly taking his music on the road, Jim has performed at numerous venues across seventeen countries (in Europe, Asia, the Americas, and Africa) and festivals such as the London Jazz Festival, Balkan Trafic! (Brussels), Jazz a la Calle (Uruguay), Kathmandu Jazz Festival, Kanazawa Jazz Street (Japan), JazzQ (St. Petersburg), Malta Jazz Festival, Jazz en Touraine, Festival Cinéma d’Alès Itinérances, Festival des Musiques Sacrées de Paris (France), and Central Park SummerStage (New York). As a sideman, he has played and recorded with artists from across a wide musical spectrum (David Fiuczynski, New York Gypsy All Stars, Chico Freeman, Ravy Magnifique, Tiger Okoshi, Philippe Lopes de Sa, …)
Jim teaches both privately and in workshop/masterclass settings (BRICKS Music Salon in Tokyo, Cardiff University School of Music in Wales, Improphile/Jazz de Mars in France, Koyo Conservatory in Kobe, Euro Institute of Music and Arts in Malta…) He was nominated Jazz Piano Teacher of the Year for 2019 at Lessonface.com.
Are you looking to learn jazz piano, improvisation, harmony, composition, arranging? Sit in at a jam session? Be admitted to a jazz school/music college? Build a repertoire of standards, write tunes, maybe even put your own band together or feel comfortable joining an existing amateur or professional outfit?
I’m thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to go through all of these exciting steps in the life of a musician myself, and I’m definitely looking forward to sharing this experience with you. I began to learn jazz piano in Paris (France) as a teenager, and later attended Berklee College of Music in Boston on a full tuition scholarship. I recently moved to New York City to continue to grow as an artist in this utterly inspiring metropolis, full of talent and creativity.
I offer jazz piano lessons that are well suited for:
- pianists of all styles (jazz, classical, blues, gospel, pop, R&B…) and levels (beginners welcome);
- instrumentalists (non-pianists including computer musicians) eager to strengthen their basic piano skills and harmonic knowledge or deepen the practice of improvisation on their principal instrument;
- vocalists who wish to hone their piano accompaniment skills.
In addition to the actual lessons, make sure to check out these FunJazz Piano Lessons articles regularly for tips, ideas, transcriptions, analyses, and in depth study of intriguing jazz topics that will help you walk in the masters’ Footprints and make Giant Steps towards your Freedom Jazz Dance!
The repertoire studied during the lessons can be as vast as jazz is diverse. I curate a playlist on Spotify you can dig into entitled “FunJazz Piano Lessons: Essential Jazz," which is a selection of standards, jazz tunes, Latin tunes, rhythm changes, blues, and ballads performed by a wealth of diverse musicians, and covering a wide range of styles and eras. In fact, exploitable melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic elements for the purpose of these lessons can be drawn from most music, within and beyond the scope of jazz… I’m therefore open to – and encourage – students’ suggestions: practicing a piece one actually knows and enjoys can be a strong motivational factor and often enhances the learning experience.
Tools & Study Material
- Basic Theory (intervals, triads, seventh chords, II-V-I, pentatonics, modes/degrees of the major scale)
- Berklee audition practice exercises
- Low Interval Limits
- Jamey Aebersold, Charlie Parker Omnibook: for C instruments (treble clef) (Alfred Music Publishing)
- Johann Sebastian Bach, Chorales (especially good to practice sight-reading and available online at bach-chorales.com)
- Fiona Bicket, The Barry Harris Approach to Improvised Lines & Harmony: An Introduction (www.barryharris.com)
- Miles Davis, Quincy Troupe, Miles: The Autobiography (Simon & Schuster)
- Charles-Louis Hanon, The Virtuoso Pianist in Sixty Exercises for the Piano (Schirmer)
- Michael Hewitt, Musical Scales of the World (The Note Tree)
- Mark Levine, The Jazz Piano Book (Sher Music Co.)
- Mark Levine, Jazz Piano Masterclass: The Drop 2 Book (Sher Music Co.)
- Mark Levine, How to Voice Standards at the Piano: the Menu (Sher Music Co.)
- Frank Mantooth, Voicings for Jazz Keyboard (Hal Leonard Corp.)
- Stephen Nachmanovitch, Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art (Tarcher/Penguin)
- Neil Olmstead, Solo Jazz Piano: The Linear Approach (Berklee Press)
- Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet (fully digitized here on jazz pianist Bill Carrothers’ website!)
- Nicolas Slonimsky, Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns (Amsco Publications)
- Adam Spiers, Scale Matcher (web application)
- Kenny Werner, Effortless Mastery: Liberating the Musician Within (http://kennywerner.com/effortless-mastery)
- Forrest Wernick, Eric O’Donnell, Jazz Advice (blog)
Jim Funnell Is a Piano Pass Teacher
Did you know you can also learn from Jim with the Piano Pass? The Piano Pass is a new monthly program that includes 80+ live piano classes per month! The pass is only $14.99 for your first month, then $39/month going forward. It's easy to cancel anytime. Learn More
Jim is currently teaching the following classes for the program:
* MA in Traditional and World Music, currently studying at Sheffield University (UK) by distance learning
* 2007, BM in Jazz Composition and Piano Performance, Summa Cum Laude, Berklee College of Music (Boston, MA)
* 2003, Diploma in Musical Studies (major in Classical Piano), Evry Conservatoire (France)
* Guillaume Muller, Sketches of Sound (2019)
* AfuriKo, Tao (2019)
* Marcelo Woloski, Mundo Por Conocer (2018)
* Philippe Lopes de Sa / Jim Funnell, Woandering (2017)
* Benjamin de Roubaix, Chansons d'amour (Pucci Records, 2016)
* AfuriKo, Style (2016)
* Jim Funnell's Word Out, Spirit of the Snail (2015)
* AfuriKo, On the Far Side (F-IRE, 2014)
* Flox, All Must Disappear (Underdog Records, 2012)
* Word Out, Word Out (2009)
* David Fiuczynski, KiF Express (FuzeLicious Morsels, 2008)
* Various Artists, The New Old School (Jazz Revelation Records, 2007)
* Various Artists, Ars Nova (Jazz Revelation Records, 2006)
Music Industry Awards
* Jazz Piano Teacher of the Year for 2019 at Lessonface.com
* Funding from the SACEM (“aide à l’autoproduction”) for the album Style by AfuriKo (2016)
* Funding from the SACEM (“aide à l’autoproduction”) for the album On the Far Side by AfuriKo (2014)
* Composition prize at the “Trophées du Sunside” with Jim Funnell’s Word Out (Paris, 2011)
* Berklee College of Music Professional Writing Division Wayne Shorter Award (Boston, 2007)
* Berklee College of Music Professional Writing Division Arif Mardin Award (Boston, 2006)
* Berklee College of Music Piano Department Achievement Award (Boston, 2006)
* Berklee College of Music Piano Department Chair Award (Boston, 2005)
* Berklee College of Music Full Tuition Scholarship (American School of Modern Music, Boulogne-Billancourt, 2003)