Hey Rim Jeon

Associate Professor
Affiliated Departments

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Described as a “brilliant pianist” by legendary saxophonist Benny Golson, Hey Rim Jeon has been featured on NBC’s Weekend Today in New York, and KBN, Korea’s National TV network channel. As leader of her own band, Hey Rim Jeon and Friends, she has performed both nationally and internationally. Her album Mona Lisa Puzzle has been described as an “intense, intelligent statement” by Bill Milkowski of Jazz Times Magazine, won the Best Jazz Album category in the 2009 New England Urban Music Awards, and reached CD Baby’s "Top 10 Modern Creative Jazz Albums" list. A recipient of Berklee’s prestigious Exemplary Mentorship Award in 2021, Jeon is the first Korean faculty member at the institution. She has been teaching in the Piano Department since 2010.

Career Highlights
  • As leader of Hey Rim Jeon and Friends, performances with Benny Golson, Terri Lyne Carrington, Dave Liebman, James Genus, and Richie Barshay, among many others
  • Four albums as a leader: Introducing Hey Rim Jeon (N-Coded Music/Sony Music Entertainment, distributed by RED), Mona Lisa Puzzle (jazzjeon records), Alone (Akasaka Kougei), and Hey Rim Jeon & Friends (Take Note Music)
  • International appearances include the first and sixth International Jarasum Jazz Festival (Korea), Nardis Jazz Club (Turkey), and Satin Doll (Japan), among others
  • Appearances in the U.S. include Birdland Jazz Club, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Iridium, the Spectrum (New York), and many more
  • Coauthor of Berklee Jazz Piano Standards for Solo Piano (Hal Leonard/Berklee Press)
  • Appearances on WGBH FM 89.7's The World by Marco Werman, KBN TV special documentary Running Today Too in the Name of Korea, and WNBC's Weekend Today in New York, among others
  • CDs and performances reviewed in JazzTimes, Jazziz on Disc, the Boston Globe, and the Boston Herald
  • Listed in Marquis Who's Who 2021 as a pianist, composer, and educator
  • Recipient of the Berklee Exemplary Faculty Mentorship Award in 2021
  • Recipient of the City Music Legacy Award, Berklee Urban Service Awards in 2015
  • Winner of Best Jazz Album, New England Urban Music Award
  • Recipient of the Piano Chair Award, Berklee College of Music
  • Recipient of the New England Conservatory Merit Award
  • Recipient of the Berklee Achievement Scholarship
  • M.M., New England Conservatory, with academic honors
  • B.M., Berklee College of Music, summa cum laude
In Their Own Words

"No one can learn anything unless they really experience it. When I teach even very simple chords, I could just write them down and theoretically explain what they are, but I want students to physically play and sing, to make them feel it, not just look at what somebody else is doing."

"In harmony classes they have a whole bunch of different instruments and majors, so I always remind them, 'What do you think that this class will do for you?' Drummers sometimes may say, 'Why should I know the chord changes, the key changes? I will never play them.' And I show examples of some drummers who produce amazing CDs. I personally know Terri Lyne Carrington. This is how she produced, as a drummer. I think their perspective changes."

"I came here in 1997 from Korea, so I understand international students' immigration issues. A lot of times students feel kind of uncomfortable talking to their peers about it, because they feel like, 'He seems fine. Why do I feel this way?' I tell them it's not wrong to feel how they feel and tell them how I overcame it. If I cannot help, maybe somebody else can. You have to find your mentors."

"Students who already have been here two, three years, they have different problems. I have to talk to them about why they have to keep going, because it's the time that they almost want to give up. They're looking at all these amazing players from all over the place and think, 'I'm never going to make it.' It's like learning a language. Sometimes you feel like you're doing a lot better and some days it doesn't sound good at all. It's a lifelong commitment. This is not a few years and then you just become an amazing musician and then what? After you graduate from Berklee, that's not the end of your profession, that's the beginning of your profession. It's a journey; it's not a destination. So you have to just know how to enjoy it and how to overcome those feelings."