Was John Coltrane the Greatest Practiser Ever?

Like Charlie Parker, Coltrane was a ‘mega’ practiser.
John Coltrane took up the alto horn in 1939 and become known as one of—if not the most—prolific practisers ever. Coltrane had an insatiable appetite for musical development, and some stories have him practising up to sixteen hours a day. Very few musicians practise between sets during a performance, but Coltrane did. People said that if you drove past Coltrane’s house, “If the lights are on, he’s practising. If not, he’s asleep or on the road.” Coltrane’s technique was one of the finest examples of polished dexterity in any discipline. He did not start out a natural, however, but worked at it. Lewis Porter says the following about Coltrane.

“He was, rather, someone who did not begin with obvious exceptional talent, and that makes his case all the more interesting. One can become one of the great musicians of all time and not start off as some kind of prodigy. The process of development and education is the same for people of spectacular achievement—geniuses if you will—as for everyone else. They too exchange ideas with friends and colleagues. Coltrane was not some isolated genius but a normal person growing and developing in a fortunately inspired circle of musicians (Porter, L. 1998. John Coltrane: His Life and Music. In Mathieson, K. 1999. Giant Steps: Bebop and the Creators of Modern Jazz. Edinburgh: Payback.)

from Learning Strategies for Musical Success by Michael Griffin

“A must read for all music educators” – Robert Adams, New Haven, USA.

“Fantastic book, simply brilliant! – Ian Cooper, Norfolk, UK

“Rarely do I come away feeling so inspired. Incredibly beneficial.” – Music Matters Blog

Amazon UK
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Australia: Contact mdgriffin63@gmail.com for direct mail.

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“Most stimulating!” – Nicholas Carpenter, Prebendal, UK

“A must buy for every music teacher and music student” – William Bruce, Teacher of Strings, UK.

“Deeply impressive, the breadth of research is fascinating!” – Robert Chamberlain, Team of Pianists and Monash University Piano Staff, Victoria Australia.

“Awesome! I want to recommend it to every teacher I know” – Michael Williamson, Australia

“I have read your book and it has made an amazing difference in my teaching and in my studio.” Beth Cruickshank, Past President – Ontario Registered Music Teachers Association.

Also by Michael Griffin

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‘Bumblebee: Rounds & Warm-ups for Choirs’

Second edition. Bumblebee! is more than just a wonderfucollection of 130 choir exercises and rounds. The author shares timeless wisdom to help you get your choir – primary or secondary – into shape.
View Table of Contents.

“This is really good for all kinds of vocal groups, choirs, conductors. Bravo!!”

“The thinking person’s guide to training a choir. Love it!”

“It’s great to have some fresh warm-ups to add to the repertory. The tips for actions and techniques are really useful, and the advice at the back of the book has made me review some of my strategies.”

harmony bk cover

Modern Harmony Method: Fundamentals of Jazz and Popular Harmony (Third Edition, 2013) is a clear and well organised text suitable for students of arranging and composition, and for classically trained musicians wishing to grasp the beautiful logic of jazz harmony. Essential understandings include chord selection, voicing, symbols, circle of 4th progressions, extensions, suspensions and alterations. Included in the 107 pages are explanations, examples, exercises and solutions. The course can be started with students in year 9 and worked through to year 12 musicianship, composing and arranging. Available at Amazon.com


Music and Keyboard in the Classroom: Fundamentals of Notation is a unit of work for general music middle school classes. Designed around the mastering of practical skills, it integrates theory, aural and history, and allows students to progress at their own rate. View Table of Contents. “This has been a great buy; the books are just superb! Interesting topics with a wide range of pieces. Great content with clear progression of learning. Fascinating teaching philosophy! BRAVO!” -The Grieg Academy, London. Available at Amazon.com

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Music and Keyboard in the Classroom: Let’s Get Creative! is the fun and creative extension to ‘Fundamentals of Notation’.

View Table of Contents. “We have been using your keyboard course and the results have been amazing!” – St George College, Australia

Available at Amazon.com


Public speaker, music education trainer, conductor and pianist. Author of 'Learning Strategies for Musical Success', 'Bumblebee: Rounds & Warm-ups for Choirs', and 'Modern Harmony Method'.

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