I began to practice the viola in a scholarly manner, devoting the entire mornings to technical studies, and my improvement within a few weeks was quite noticeable. My interest was spurred further when my playing of the exercises became more perfect. All this practice helped in acquiring a splendid tone, which is a necessity in viola parts, and especially in dramatic cue music.
My cornet was neglected some, I guess, although I did blow for a few moments each day to keep my lips in shape. There was no band business during the winter, and as there was a good cornet player in the orchestra (Joe Cameron), I was content to play and draw my fifteen-dollar weekly salary. There were some excellent shows that season, musical comedies, light operas, grand operas, and many dramatic companies of high class, and in many ways I certainly gained much experience from playing in the theatre. Besides, I was growing older and meeting a better class of people all the time. Many good musicians accompanied some of the opera companies, and I became acquainted with a number who gave me a great many pointers. Naturally, I fell in with the cornet players, who showed me how to overcome my many faults in cornet playing, and this encouraged me very much.
All in all, I worked very hard that winter on both "string and brass." Toward spring the "band fever" took hold of me once more, especially when I was asked to play cornet with the then celebrated "When Band," as it was called. The band was connected with the "When Clothing Store" of Indianapolis, for which it was used as an advertising medium.
Rehearsals were called once a week for the band, and nearly all the theatre orchestra members belonged to it. Joe Cameron was the leader, brother Ed was the solo cornet, and I played beside him. All the men were full of "ginger and pep," and possessing good teamwork, certainly played well together. As the summer approached, we booked many engagements. The theatre closed early for the season, and now we had to hustle for odd jobs to make a living. My parents moved to Rochester, New York, where Dad was engagd as organist in one of the largest of the churches. We three boys, who were left behind, took rooms in the "When Block" and lived together, practicing, and studying hard to succeed.