Donnell has enjoyed many facets of the music industry as a performer, composer, engineer and producer, playing blues and jazz, composing music for animation shorts as well as CD collections and interactive multimedia projects. In his early years, he took jazz piano lessons from Gene Confer. He next attended Cornish College of the Arts studying with Gary Peacock, Art Lande, and Denney Goodhew. After being awarded both a Count Basie Scholarship and Massachusetts State Scholarship for composition, he then attended Berklee College of Music studying Jazz Composition and Arranging, and directed study with Greg Hopkins. Mentored by some of the greatest musicians in the world, including George Russell, Chick Corea, and Ray Santisi, it is from these favorite teachers that Donnell developed his own style of teaching, and he still draws inspiration from many of their recordings.