This style of practice did not tire my lips as did playing the brilliant cornet solos but seemed to rest them, Still, I realized that the public demanded pyrotechnical demonstrations on the cornet, so each morning after my regular practice on the scales in all their different forms I would tackle some of the solos I had heard these great cornetists render, and the recollection of the pitch of enthusiasm to which they had aroused their audiences filled me with greater ambition than ever. I would play and play until my poor lips refused to vibrate and I was forced to rest, I would pickup some music magazine and read of their success until I was again fired with ambition and filled with aspirations to become as celebrated as were they, then pick up my cornet and go at it again with greater zest than before.
In those days I did not know how to governor control my practice. There was no one to correct faults but myself, and in boyish ways I let many mistakes pass without rectifying them as I should have done. Everyone knows that as a rule boys are not blessed with much philosophy, not to mention common sense, yet they think they know a lot about almost everything. With us boys in those days daily practice meant that so many pages of exercises were necessary to build up a strong lip, instead of one exercise being practiced and played faultless before a whole page was attempted.
I remember a date when the famous Gilmore's Band was booked for a concert, and on the morning it arrived in town I was at the depot to have a look at these wonderful musicians who were supposed to be the greatest instrumental performers in the world. When the train pulled in and the men left the cars, I stood back in awe as they passed me, although I gladly would have helped "tote" grip or instrument to the hotel if I had had the nerve to approach any of them. I wanted to speak with the celebrated Ben Bent solo cornetist, and question him as to the correct way of practicing so that I might become a good player myself. But I could not muster enough courage to brazen it out and approach him, and so he too walked off with the rest of the bandsmen. I realized that with his going I had let an opportunity slip by, and for so doing never really quite forgave myself, as perhaps I might have learned more in a few minutes' conversation with this solo cornet player, than so far, I had from all my studying. Anyway, I attended the concert and was enthralled beyond words by the playing of this magnificent aggregation, which then was the only traveling band in the United States. Oh, how tome our own town band sounded at our next rehearsal! For the first time I began to notice the mistakes we all made that were allowed to pass by the leader, and to observe how little he made of dynamic and expression marks, carrying everything through without trying to produce contrasts, and without paying any attention whatever to proper inerpretation.
Right then and there I made up my mind that If I became a good cornet player I would make every endeavor to become a member of Gilmore's great band, which was the best in the world; and well it might be as it was made up of picked men from all countries, and comprised the best players that could be procured. My young friend, Walter Rogers, appealed to me as being a mighty good cornetist, he did everything so easily on the instrument, and really was my model. He could read anything at sight, and we used to lay cornet duets together so frequently that gradually I learned more from him through observation than by hearing anyone else.
Sorry to say, I shortly lost both the companionship and playing of Rogers, for when the spring of 1885 was approaching he had a call from Cappa, the then celebrated bandmaster of the Now York Seventh Regiment Band. Cappa had heard Walter play a few solos, and was surprised at his wonderful display of technic and style. He at once engaged him as the cornet soloist of the big band, and so Rogers left Indianapolis for bigger things in New York. I was so proud because of my friend securing one of the best cornt positions in the big Metropolitan city that I could not have been more overjoyed had it been myself. We were all proud of him! This was amply testified when he left for New York, as all the musicians in Indianapolis gave him a grand "send-off"; for he not only was recognized as the best cornetist in the city, but was well liked because of his genial disposition. What was most gratifying to all, however, was to think that one of our town boys had been sought to fill one of the best cornet positions in the country. Rogers went to New York and made good.
The director of the theatre orchestra in which Rogers had been playing, engaged me to take his place. This of course was quite an advancement for me, but I knew it would be necessary to put in some mighty hard work even to try to fill the position the best I could. To make good on the job l started into practice with greater zest, always thinking of Rogers, and wondering if it were possible for me ever to become good enough as a cornetist to secure some sort of an engagement in the great American Metropoli, where I could hear the best in music at all times and perhaps be more or less associated with world renowned musicians. I argued it out with myself that, if one fellow from a country town was sufficiently good to compete with the best cornet players in New York City, possibly there might be a chance for another if he studied carefully, faithfully and sincerely!