Growing older (I was now in my twenty-first year) and continually learning, as well as gathering success in all my work because of the fact that I always tried hard to be as perfect as possible in everything that I undertook, my dreams of becoming a great cornet soloist took hold of me again, and I began to work with more determination than ever, especially in correcting my faults, so that if the time should come for me to apply for a higher position I would be fully prepared.
Even so, although I devoted much time to my profession, there was always a chance for recreation of some kind, and I was always out for a good time with the boys, riding the bicycle (I was bugler in the Wanderers Bicycle Club), and doing considerable yachting, of which I was extremely fond. I had a small sail boat, a sloop rig, named The Puritan, with which I won the championship in the Fifth Class of The Royal Canadian Yacht Club Regatta for three consecutive years, sailing the boat myself, with a crew of one.
Three years passed pleasantly, during which time I was always occupied, branching out into broader channels as my popularity increased. Although still a young man, I was appointed to the staff of teachers in the Toronto Conservatory of Music as instructor for the violin, viola, cornet, and all brass instruments. I might say here that I had again taken up the viola for amusement, and had become a member of the Conservatory String Quartet, giving monthly recitals at the Auditorium. This, to me, was a most interesting phase of music, especially while I was studying harmony, as string-quartet music is the purest form of harmony and the foundation of the symphony orchestra. This experience still further extended my education in music, giving me a better standing throughout the Province, with the result that out-of-town concert engagements began to pour in.
MORE WORK THAN TIME
I soon realized that there were not enough hours in the day for all the work I could take on, so I raised my price for pupils, as well as that for concert work, arguing that even with less pupils at an advanced price, I would make just as much money and have more time to myself. The same with concert engagements; if I received as much for one concert as I had been getting for two, it would make me a bit more independent and increase my drawing power. Even with my advance in price, during the winter season averaged three concerts a week for solo playing, my territory covering the entire Province of Ontario, and even extending to Montreal, Quebec.
With all these engagements, I managed to carry out my duties with the band, not once failing in my obligations to the regiment or band engagements, and the more work I had, the happier I became. I never wasted much time gossiping with musicians whose principal theme, generally, was to "knock" successful players and the different leaders upon whom they depended for a livelihood. And still I seemed to be popular among them, trying to help everyone who was not doing very well, recommending many for jobs, and also advising each to try to better his playing through proper study and practice.
I am mentioning my successes at this early age to impress upon the reader the thought that everyone has an equal chance to succeed if he goes about it in the proper way, there being no such thing as luck, either good or bad. I had my struggles, in fact, I am never without them, but I always tried my best to overcome obstacles that at first seemed impossible. By sticking to it, I managed to conquer many faults (another name for obstacles) and gained a realization that the most important matter was to learn self control. This has been the fight of my life.
Ambition is the first essential for musical success, but patience is the greater virtue. It is so difficult to hold back and not strive to reach the top of the ladder too soon. "Through Difficulties to Triumph" is a splendid motto to follow, but much thought and understanding are required to reach the highest pinnacle; so many disappointments occur before one has learned to climb very high. We only learn by making mistakes, and these mistakes should be lessons to us. We should immediately correct them as best we can, without falling into discouragement, a state that has been the downfall of the majority of enthusiasts. (I often tell the members of my band at rehearsals that there is no crime in making a mistake, but that there is in making the same mistake twice.)
MANY ROADS TO ROME
Often in my practice, finding that I cannot accomplish something I try for in a certain way, I simply try another way, in fact, several ways, as there is no set rule for correct playing, except to be absolutely perfect in each exercise one practices. This principle, followed out, gives us the experience necessary to win. Keep on trying to do the best you can. Gain knowledge by asking questions when in doubt, and never give up, no matter what you have to face.
Whenever a player imagines he is "good" his career is ended. Remember that the more we learn, the less we seem to know, and the better we play, the more mistakes we discover in our efforts. Consequently, perfection is never reached. Even if the public congratulates us upon a good performance, we all know secretly that the result has been far from what we intended it to be, and this knowledge inspires us to correct the little faults we discover in our work of yesterday. Flattery is our most dangerous enemy. I did not make my reputation; it was made by the public. All I had to do was to back the public by trying always to give a good performance.
I think it was in the fall of 1890 that I was offered the leadership of the Heintzman's Piano Company Band, an organization in Toronto that had come to the front musically, being composed of good musicians who were secured through employment offered by the firm. The position had been made open through the resignation of the band's former leader, Mr. Thomas Baugh, who, after having made a success of the band, had returned to New York.
Thinking the matter over seriously, and realizing that such a position would give me more prestige, as well as more experience, I decided to accept, which necessitated my resigning as a cornet soloist of the Queen's Own Regimental Band, and after the expiration of my second enlistment term of three years, I was given an honorable discharge.
My duties as bandmaster called for responsibilities different than simply playing cornet in a band, for I now assumed full control of the men, with the additional burden of procuring engagements. I was also given more opportunities in the musical line. So I began to hustle around for all kinds of engagements, with the standing of the Heintzman company to back me. I was surprised at the first rehearsal to hear the men play so well. There were about forty members and these took much interest in the organisation. My experience in band work under the direction of Mr. John Bayley, bandmaster of the Queen's Own Regimental Band, together with what I had learned as a member of the Philharmonic Orchestra under Dr. F.H. Torrington, helped me to try to interpret good music properly, and the men responded splendidly at rehearsals.
I owe much of my success to Mr. Bayley, as he so often drilled me in my solo playing at his home, showing me the stories of each, and playing the music on the piano. He was one of the best accompanists I ever had, besides excelling on the violin. He was concertmaster of the orchestra, a wonderful organist, and one of the best clarinet players I have ever heard. The same held true in the case of Dr. Torrington, who had played violin with Theodore Thomas, and was considered, at that time, the best organist in Toronto. So with this environment, I very naturally, when a boy, absorbed the best in music, and certainty made good use of my chances, never losing an opportunity of asking vital questions concerning music from both of these splendid musicians, and never forgetting anything they told me. These experiences prepared me for a career later in life, and it is needless to say that I was very thankful for them.