At various times since beginning this serial, its writer has been the recipient of not a few letters from new subscribers to the Jacob's Orchestra and Band Monthlies who quite evidently had seen only a current installment of the series. In consequence of not having read any of the previous chapters, they did not realize that the number which was being read by them was only a single chapter in a series of progressive chapters, each succeeding one dealing in turn with successive phases of any career in music dating from the time when as a boy I began the study of the cornet.
For the benefit of these correspondents, and other new readers of the magazine, I will break the thread of my story long enough to explain that in this current chapter and preceding ones, I am supposed to be only a fourteen-year-old boy cornet blower, not at all approaching any future status I might ever possess as a grown player, the last being a point in progression that will not be reached until some few chapters farther on in the series. Therefore, in all the previous installments I figure merely as a beginning, or (as implied by the name of the entire series) simply a "pilgrim"; a boy blower of the cornet, yet full and bubbling over with enthusiasm for the instrument - just a boy who at that time never anticipated becoming anything more than what his love for the cornet might make him. With this brief explanation I will again pick up the thread and come back to a resumption of the story.
The time of this present chapter is in the spring of 1883, when I am convalescing from a severe illness which had set me so for back in my cornet practice that it became necessary for me to begin all over again and pick up the playing of the instrument practically from its first starting. The cornet that had been loaned to me by the Queen's Own Regiment Band, and which I had been using while playing with that organization as a boy amateur, had been called in, of course, during my long illness and as personlly I never had owned a cornet, this naturally left me without an instrument on which to practice, so I did not quite see how I was to make a new start. For a time I practiced on an old alto horn to build up the strength that had left my lungs and although it helped materially in regaining control of deep breathing it did not greatly help in building up my all but lost cornet embouchure; but it was the best I could do under the existing circumstances.
I finally prevailed upon my good mother to intercede with my brother Ed and persuade him to allow me to use his cornet, which then was not being used as he had been engaged to play violin in the Grand Opera House Orchestra during all that season. His permission being granted, I commenced all over from the very beginning, considering myself a mighty lucky boy to be practicing on such a jim-dandy cornet. I first began to rebuild my embouchure by playing very easy exercises in the middle and lower registers, determined to recover all that I had lost through my severe sickness, although at first it was up-hill work.
Prior to my sickness I had become not a little experienced in routine work (lacking, of course, trained endurance), so it was mighty discouraging to again take up and play all the elementary exercises like a beginner who never had touched the cornet. However, realizing that it must be done, whether liked or not, I stuck to it even in my immature and boyish mind I could see that it was not unlike the case of a man with a broken leg, who cannot walk again with security until the bone is properly knitted and he muscles have regained their accustomed strength.