Soumis par Jeff Purtle le sam 11/06/2016 - 10:22

In the early part of September, 1887, I returned to Toronto, Canada, as cornet soloist of the Citizen's Band which was virtually the Queen's Own Regimental Band, and once more enlisted in this famous regiment. My duties now, as I was under a yearly salary, necessitated my attending all band rehearsals, regimental drills, and march outs, and giving my first services to the band. However, I was allowed to take outside engagements that did not conflict with these duties, and I had more time to devote to practice and other work, such as teaching and playing solos at concert engagements.

The environment was immeasurably better than that held in the regular theatre work in Rochester, and I began to plan a new future that would bring about better results in every way. The yearly salary was sure, and was considered a retaining fee, all engagements with the band paying extra, with the exception of regimental duties. So at least I was sure of as much money as I had received in Rochester, and still more time to myself in which to continue my musical education.


Almost its first engagement after my joining the band was the Annual National Canadian Exhibition in Toronto, and I was programmed for a solo at each concert, which gave me quite a local reputation to begin with, the result being that many cornet players wishing me to instruct them, I started a small class.

The band had many engagements in and around town. Later on, when the winter concert season opened, I played with the Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Dr. Torrington, as well as with the Claxton Orchestra, the latter organization being in quite good demand.

In addition I was approached to teach a new band, just organized, made up of about thirty men, employees of the Taylor Safe Works Company. I well remember the first night I tried to direct and teach the band, it being the first time I had ever attempted to use a baton. Under these circumstances, quite naturally, I was awkward, but I went at it the best I could. The work gave me still another experience in the music line; one that has helped me much in my career. Before very long, after some practice at home, beating time before a mirror. I succeeded in drilling the band so well that in a few months we gave to a large audience a successful concert at Shaftsbury Hall on Queen Street. Besides this, I was engaged as violin instructor at the Trinity College School at Port Hope, a small town about sixty miles east of Toronto, going there once a week. In the evening, I taught an amateur orchestra composed of about fifteen businessmen of the town. All of these activities netted me more extra money.

The more pupils I had, the more I seemed to learn, even from them. Each played in a different manner, and I would often find one who could play, easily or naturally, exercises that I had found difficult, and over which I had spent many days, weeks, and months, before I could play them perfectly the first time.  I really learned much from such experiences.


All these things seemed to create a new desire in me and my ambition to become a better musician took a new form. Although I studied regularly each day, there was still much more for me to learn, so I decided to take harmony lessons that I might be able to arrange and compose music properly, and correct misprints in band publications, which occur frequently. This knowledge would also enable me to answer thoroughly questions asked me by men in the band, or by inquisitive pupils and to prove my statements by the rules that govern the theory of music. So many musicians "bluff" their way along in life. Sometimes they get a bad surprise just when they least expect it, and then wonder later on in life why they have not been more successful.

Selecting the best harmony teacher in the city, I one day applied for instruction, and was told that he had more pupils than he could attend to, but that if I would wait a few weeks, perhaps he could give me an hour later on. This made me more anxious than ever to learn theory, and, instead of going to another teacher, I waited until he notified me that he could take me on. He charged five dollars per lesson, which seemed pretty high to me (it equaled a charge of twenty dollars a lesson at the present day), but I soon found it to be well worth the cost. After I had taken one lesson a week for a period, it began to seem like a long time between lessons, for I always had my examples worked out the following day, and had to wait six more days before another lesson, which seemed a waste of time. I suggested taking two lessons a week, and this my teacher granted, as he took a special interest in me, stipulating, however, that I must be at his studio at 7:30 in the morning; otherwise he had no other available time. I then asked him if he made any reduction in price to professional musicians, as two lessons would cost me ten dollars. But he gave no discount at all, and of this I am glad, now that I look back upon the incident, because having to spend so much money (which ate into my income, as I was living away from my parents) made me work more carefully. And I can truthfully say that every dollar I spent in learning the theory of music has brought me hundreds in later life.

There is much satisfaction in knowing how to do things the right way, and to be able to answer musical questions intelligently. All this can be acquired by spending a little money carefully and storing knowledge in one's brain, thereby insuring success and making it possible to climb continually, rather than fall behind with the majority, who seemed satisfied with what they already know.

During that winter I had many concert engagements as cornet soloist, both in and out of town, and these began to pay me well. I now realized that there was as much money in the musical profession as in any commercial line, if it were properly attended to, and the thought that I was beginning to earn a good living out of the profession that I loved inspired me to work with more zest.


I was now twenty years old and making a considerable amount of money, much more than I could hope to receive for years to come as a clerk in some store, and yet I realized that the possibilities were practically endless in the music business if one became popular; for one's prices, naturally, could be increased in accordance with the law of "supply and demand."

Prices for the services of musicians were then very low compared to those of the present day, there being no union to govern them, but I managed to keep busy all the time and to save a little money to pay for my music and adding to my repertoire, which was my "stock in trade."

Now realizing that I must go after whatever I wanted and not wait for things to come to me, I began soliciting and advertising for pupils and concert engagements, giving up dance and party work and confining my playing to a higher class. This action still further increased my income and kept me in greater demand, I hustled for everything I got and consequently was never idle, although I never neglected a day's practice, which to me was more essential than paying jobs.

So many musicians work hard at their practice, spending hours to become great players on their favorite instrument without ever seeming to reach out for opportunities to come to them (which seldom happens), with the result that they become discouraged and never amount to anything more than theatre or dance players.