Education and Experience
Charlie has been teaching, performing, and composing music for over four decades. A native of Memphis Tennessee, he began his musical career as a teenager in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. Charlie spent his twenties in Minneapolis, Minnesota where his diverse musical interests found him performing original music at the Coffeehouse Extempore, playing contemporary jazz at the Artists' Quarter, blues at the Triangle Bar. and swing tunes on Minnesota Public Radio. He also appeared with, among others, the Gene Adams Quartet, the Sam Bivens Big Band, the Clint Hoover/Charlie Pennel Group, the Charlie Pennel Jazz Trio, and the Viki Mountain Quartet. Surviving the Big One, Charlie's "Dave Frishberg-like tune", (Andrea Cantor, The Jazz Police) was recorded by Viki Mountain on her CD, Don't Go to Strangers.
In 1987, Charlie moved to Boston, Massachusetts to pursue a degree in film scoring from the Berklee College of Music. While at Berklee, he studied piano with Ray Santisi and composition with John Bavicchi. Charlie's original work in the film scoring department earned him a music editing internship at Segue Music in Los Angeles, California. Charlie graduated from Berklee with honors in 1991.
Since graduation, Charlie has increasingly turned his professional focus to education. While continuing to write music and perform in and around the Boston area, Charlie has grown and maintained a successful independent piano studio for the past twenty-five years,. Charlie's classroom teaching experience includes Director of Music at the Thacher Montessori School in Milton, Massachusetts and Instructor of English Composition and Literature at Bay State Community College in Boston.
Charlie's current project is Improvilirium! The Beginning Pianists' Comprehensive Guide to the Joyful Art of Improvisation. Improvilirium! is a unique resource for beginning pianists of all ages. Distilling insights and strategies from master improvisers and featuring over 300 original songs, etudes, and exercises, Improvilirium! teaches students to trust their ears, "think" with their hands, and play from the heart.