School of Music Mark Tonelli

Associate Professor
  • B.M. in Jazz Performance — William Paterson College                
  • M.M. in Jazz Studies — University of North Texas                    
  • Ed.D. in Music Education — Columbia University

Professional Affiliations: Jazz Education Network, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, College Music Society

Mark Tonelli has enjoyed a diverse career performing with artists such as Clay Aiken, Jon Faddis, Rita Moreno, Denis DeBlasio, Greg Bissonette, Andrea McArdle, Bobby Rydell, and The Platters. He has been seen on FOX News and is featured in the Emmy-nominated PBS musical special Marina At West Point. He has had residencies in three major music hubs— New York City,  Dallas, and Kansas City— performing at renowned venues, including NYC’s 55 Bar, Dallas’s Sambuca, and Kansas City’s Blue Room. His group has released three critically-acclaimed recordings on the MTonal Music label. He continues to perform across the country with his own group and other ensembles.

For ten years, Dr. Tonelli was the guitarist for the West Point Band's Jazz Knights, touring and performing in some of the nation's top venues, including Jazz Standard, Blues Alley, Jazz Showcase, Kennedy Center, Jazz Kitchen, Avery Fisher Hall, Count Basie Theatre, and The Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame. With the Jazz Knights, Dr. Tonelli performed with a who's who of jazz legends: Benny Golson, Billy Cobham, Bobby Watson, Randy Brecker, Steve Turre, Rufus Reid, Bob Mintzer, John Riley, Claudio Roditi, Adam Nussbaum, as well as the Boston Pops and the New York Philharmonic Brass Quintet.

Dr. Tonelli’s original music has been featured on National Public Radio's (NPR) All Things Considered. He has been a finalist and prize winner in composition for Billboard Magazine and the USA Songwriting Competition. His jazz ensemble music is published by UNC Jazz Press and FJH Music. Dr. Tonelli’s books, Everybody's Jazz Guitar Method and Way To Play: Jazz Guitar Riffs And Chords, are published by FJH Music. He has written instructional articles for Guitar Player, Downbeat, The Jazz Education Journal, JazzEd, Jazz Improv, Just Jazz Guitar, and The Instrumentalist. Dr. Tonelli has made presentations on jazz studies and entrepreneurship across the country, including at the Jazz Education Network, College Music Society, and National Association For Music Education (NaFME) national conferences.

At Millikin, he coordinates the guitar studies program, in which he teaches electric guitar ensemble, applied lessons, guitar pedagogy, and masterclass. In addition, he teaches jazz improvisation and Arts Cafe, a student-run venture he created, in which students learn to operate a live performance venue.

Disciplines: guitar, jazz studies, entrepreneurship


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