I started teaching private piano lessons in 1991, soon after I graduated from Cornell. From 2001-2021, I taught ear training, harmony, piano, bass and ensembles at Berklee College of Music. While I continue to love the classroom, my deepest passion is for private teaching. I love the personal connection and flexibility that private lessons make room for, and the relationships that get created over time. 


In my teaching, I draw on many valuable learning experiences I've had along the way:

• classical training on piano and bass starting at age 7 (age 9 on bass)

• earning a B.A. from Cornell University in Musicology

• earning a Masters from New England Conservatory of Music in Contemporary Improvisation (mostly jazz piano and bass performance, but also including classical composition) 

• 35+ years as a working musician, composer and bandleader in a variety of styles 

• daily yoga/meditation practice since 2004

• study of Alexander Technique since 2009


My private lessons are generally either at my home studio in Northeast Albuquerque, NM or on Zoom; I enjoy doing both and have had great results with both. My style of teaching is organic, tailoring lessons to the evolving interests of students, including jazz, classical, and all kinds of contemporary music on both piano and bass, as well as harmony, ear training, composition, and improvisation.


Over the years, I have taught young children, helped high school students prepare for auditions at Berklee and other music schools, and guided adults toward more fulfilling musical growth. My former private and Berklee students include many professional musicians, including Esperanza Spalding. Please contact me if you'd like to discuss setting up lessons.


"John Funkhouser has taught me so much about tension-free technique and how relaxed, efficient movement results in beautiful tone and phrasing. I’ve learned the most effective practice techniques that allow me to use my limited practice time efficiently. I’ve learned how to play with feeling…how to play from the heart vs. just playing the notes. And, finally, John has taught me the mental, inner game of music and the fascinating mind-body connection that has turned my playing into a personal, spiritual practice.

John is a patient, encouraging, and thoughtful teacher. His knowledge and experience in many musical genres make him a great guide for anyone’s musical journey."

Dave Berke


"While a student at Berklee College of Music, I had the good fortune of studying bass and ear training with John. In our private lessons, John used the Berklee curriculum as a guide, but customized each lesson to my specific needs and goals. Through transcription, ear training, improvisation, music theory, sight-reading, and technique development, John prepared me for playing music on a professional level. His lessons were fun and inspiring, yet John’s passion for music and no-nonsense teaching style pushed me harder than any instructor had before. I worked hard, but in return gained not only musical proficiency but a professional mindset that has been essential in my own music career."                           

                                                         Pete Iannitto, professional bassist

What Students Are Saying

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Berklee Teaching Video