10 measures with Miles Johnston

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Miles Johnston, left, plays with his trio, which grows to a quartet with the addition of a drummer Dec. 31 at Pescara restaurant in Rochester.

1. Music background

Miles started playing drums in school at age 10. He studied music at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire, and served 6½ years in the Army, where he was a percussionist in the 7th Infantry Division Band. He also attended the U.S. Armed Forces School of Music.

2. Workaday life

Besides being a professional musician, Miles manages his 5-acre farm, large garden and apple orchard. 

3. Firsts


His first band teacher encouraged him to play the cornet because of his ear training ability. Miles found this curious, but he decided to play the drums instead.

4. Stick-to-it-iveness

Miles played the drums professionally for 30 years, but the encounter with his first band teacher stuck in his mind. At age 44, Miles picked up a cornet and began to practice, giving himself a year to try it out. He's been playing the cornet ever since.

5. Philosophy

"I just love music. I want to accomplish something in life, something concrete, and I can't think of anything I'd rather spend a large amount of time on."

6. Practice makes perfect

Miles practices his cornet three hours a day but never on the day of a performance. He also spends time songwriting and has written more than 20 tunes, mostly instrumental.

7. Venues


"My favorite place to play is at a cocktail hour or a party. I love to create an atmosphere behind all the visiting and eating. Sometimes people stop talking and just listen. Sometimes people come over to the band because they like the sound."

8. Rochester music scene

"Rochester nightlife is improving. It was always good in the old days. Back then, some musicians were playing five nights a week, and the nightlife was huge from Wednesday night on. It is starting to get better again."

9. Musical style

Miles plays jazz, blues and swing styles with his trio and quartet. The Miles Johnston Trio consists of Miles on cornet, a pianist or guitarist and a bassist. The Miles Johnston Quartet adds a drummer in the mix.

10. Where to find Miles

The Miles Johnston Quartet is performing for New Year's Eve at Pescara in Rochester. Miles can be found on his website, , and on Facebook, .

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