After we had become used to playing together, with each one trying to hear the parts of the others while listening to his own part (true ensemble work), a suggestion came up that it would be better for all to phrase alike, and that it would sound more musical if all breathed alike and at the same time. After much study and constant practice, the quartet had improved to such an extent that one day Dad came into the room where we were practicing and complimented us on our playing. At that time he was organis in the Plymouth Congregational Church, and having built for that church the largest organ in Indianapolis, gave many daily public recitals on the "King of Instruments."
One day while the quartet was rehearsing as usual, Dad again came into the room and informed us that because of a "strike" in his choir (numbering about thirty-five voices) he had decided to dispense with the singing body at the following Sunday service. We did not quite see the connection until he suggested that our quartet should take the place of the choir, stating that it not only would be a distinctive novelty but settle all further talk among the congregation concerning the "strike." It seemed that the cause of the trouble was the old one of "jealousy"; there were several soprano singers in the vocal body, and each one wanted to be the soloist. As it was a volunteer choir all the members had their individual friends and adherents in the church body as personal supporters. Things were coming rapidly to a head when Dad assumed the initiative and took the matter into his own hands. He simply selected as soprano soloist the singer whom he considered most ably fitted to fill the part. Then the cloud burst an disclosed the jealousies that eventually broke up everything.
We accepted Dad's suggestion and as this would be the first public appearance of the Schubert Brass Quartet (our new name) we began rehearsing in earnest twice daily until the eventful day came. When on that Sunday morning we took our seats before the assembled congregation a murmur went through the church, emanating mainly from the choir members who were present in the hope of seeing a complete failure of the entire service. Naturally, we fellows of the quartet were a little nervous, but we played the opeing number in a quiet, reverent and impressive manner that pleased the congregation and compelled its attention. At the close of the service the quartet was permanently engaged as a musical attraction for the balance of the year.
Of course our quartet repertoire was extremely limited as to sacred selections, so at once I started a search through the stores for more music of that nature, something that proved exceedingly difficult to secure for a brass quartet. I spent many hours in looking through different publications, but wholly without success. Almost everything was on the secular order, which naturally was entirely out of keeping with, and utterly inappropriate for a church service. Then I hit on the happy scheme of purchasin part-songs for mixed voices. These I arranged for our brass voices, and here again my music education was greatly advanced. Our quartet became so popular that the church auditorium was filled every Sunday, but no one ever thought of asking about the choir, which simply had pushed itself out of singing existence.