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As before stated, I now was devoting my entire time to music, and realizing that it was foolish to practice all the time on the cornet only, at my father's suggestion I took up the study of viola. He said that if I could learn to play it well enough we would form a family string quartet, Ed and Ern playing first and second violins, myself the viola, and himself the cello. He had learned to play this instrument fairly well in his youth, and was sure that with a little practice he easily could get back into paying form. I immediately planned out a schedule for myself to play four full hours on the cornet each forenoon, with four on the viola every afternoon. The latter instrument did not prove so very difficult for me, as all that it required was reading a new clef (the alto) and a little longer stretch with the fingers. By careful study and diligent practice the work was soon accomplished and I was ready for the quartet.
One never-to-be-forgotten Sunday afternoon, about a month from the time when the project originally was started, we made our first full try-out on one of Mozart's beautiful string-quartet compositions. Everybody became so deeply absorbed, and the time passed so pleasantly, that nobody gave any thought about supper, although we were called several times. Father suddenly remembering that he was supposed to play the organ at evening church service, finally jumped up and left precipitately without stopping to eat. The rest of us then came down to earth long enough to eat.
This experience, new to me, was so fascinating and so increased my love for good music, that I became more determined to follow out my previously planned schedule for routine work and study in a systematic manner. In detail my schedule was as follows: The cornet in the forenoon, with one hour on scales, one hour on slurring, one hour on tonguing, and one hour on miscellaneous work: i.e., a little of each of the preceding combined with playing songs and easy solos. I kept this up all that winter, getting up early and working from eight in the morning to twelve noon. The afternoon was devoted to the viola, carrying out the same general system in scale playing, finger exercises, bowing, and playing parts from the different string quartets. My improvement on both instruments astonished even myself.