Peter Jonatan

Associate Professor
Affiliated Departments
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Peter Jonatan is a composer, arranger, orchestrator, conductor, and pianist specializing in jazz composition. He also excels in other contemporary music genres, including pop, gospel, classical, and Latin. He was born and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia, before he moved to Boston to pursue music.

Career Highlights
  • Orchestral work performed by Hollywood musicians, City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, Budapest Symphony Orchestra, Lake Street Dive with NEC Jazz Orchestra, and Philharmonia Strings
  • Studies with the following: for jazz composition, Ken Schaphorst, Ben Schwendener, John Hollenbeck, and Greg Hopkins; for jazz piano, Frank Carlberg, Jerry Bergonzi, Jeff Covell, Ross Ramsay, and Russell Hoffmann, among others; and for classical composition, John Mallia
  • Attended master classes with Maria Schneider, Dave Holland, and Darcy James Argue
  • Member of the music theory faculty at New England Conservatory
  • Recordings include Rayuan Pulau Kelapa (2021) as producer, arranger, and pianist; Forevermore (2020) as arranger, orchestrator, and conductor; Psalm 98 (2016) as arranger, orchestrator, and conductor; and Crossing Paths (2011) as producer, arranger, orchestrator, and pianist (together with United by Grace group)
  • Recipient of the New England Conservatory Merit Award Scholarship (2012–2017)
  • Recipient of the Berklee Entering Student Talent Scholarship (2009) and Berklee Achievement Scholarship (2011)
  • Recipient of the Herb Pomeroy Scholarship Award from Berklee College of Music (2011)
  • Recipient of the Alf Clausen Celebrity Online Scholarship from Berklee Online (2008)
  • Recipient of the Lee Kuan Yew Gold Medal from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (2006)
  • D.M., New England Conservatory,  jazz studies composition, 2020
  • M.M., New England Conservatory, jazz studies composition, 2014
  • B.M., Berklee College of Music, jazz composition, 2011
  • B.S., Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, materials engineering, 2006
In Their Own Words

"Since music is an auditory art, I always believe that ear training should be at the forefront of essential skills that every musician needs to master. My ear training teaching philosophies focus on the following: a) repertoire and transcription skills: Students should be allowed to transcribe and learn from the repertoire that they like. It will make them see the value of ear training more as they can concretely see how their effort in master the challenging ear training skills benefited them in the long run; b) incremental, but consistent progress: Learning ear training should be like taking baby steps: short, but consistent over a long period of time. It is better to spend 15 minutes daily for a week than two hours for a day and nothing the rest of the week. When practicing, it is vital to have a plan or study journal to maximize its effectiveness. Start simple, and gradually introduce different elements to avoid being overwhelmed; c) connecting skills to music theory: Ear training skills will not mean much without a strong understanding of music theory. Students always need to analyze what they hear. Does it make sense theoretically? If not, what is the reason? Could it mean that they hear it wrong?"

"Music is both an art and a science. It would be best to balance systematic and orderly approaches with spontaneous, improvisatory, at-the-moment, and chaotic methods. There is always a logical explanation for events that happen in a musical piece. However, good music always stems from a good ear, which ultimately results in an excellent artistic decision."

As a composer, arranger, and orchestrator well-versed in various music genres, I tried to incorporate a wide range of musical excerpts in my teaching. The objectives are twofold: to show the practical usage of the concepts I'm teaching and introduce students to different styles they might be interested in exploring further."