All these things seemed to create a new desire in me and my ambition to become a better musician took anew form. Although I studied regularly each day, there was still much more for me to learn, so I decided to take harmony lessons that I might be able to arrange and compose music properly, and correct misprints in band publications, which occur frequently. This knowledge would also enable me to answer thoroughly questions asked me by men in the band, or by inquisitive pupils and to prove my statements by he rules that govern the theory of music. So many musicians "bluff" their way along in life. Sometimes they get a bad jar just when they least expect it, and then wonder later on in life why they have not been more successful.
Selecting the best harmony teacher in the city, I one day applied for instruction, and was told that he had more pupils than he could attend to, but that if I would wait a few weeks, perhaps he could give me an hour later on. This made me more anxious than ever to learn theory, and, instead of going to another teacher, I waited until he notified me that he could take me on. He charged five dollars per lesson, which seemed pretty high to me (it equaled a charge of twenty dollars a lesson at the present day), but I soon found it be well worth the cost. After I had taken one lesson a week for a period, it began to seem like a long time between lessons, for I always had my examples worked out the following day, and had to wait six more days before another lesson, which seemed a waste of time. I suggested taking two lessons a week, and this my teacher granted, as he took a special interest in me, stipulating, however, that I must be at his studio at 7:30 in the morning; otherwise he had no other available time. I then asked him if he made any reduction in price to professional musicians, as two lessons would cost me ten dollars. But he gave no discount at all, and of this I am glad, now that I look back upon the incident, because having to spend so much money (which ate into my income, as I was living away from my parents) made me work more carefully. And I can truthfully say that every dollar I spent in learning the theory of music has brought me hundreds in later life.
There is much satisfaction in knowing how to do things the right way, and to be able to answer musical questions intelligently. All this can be acquired by spending a little money carefully and storing knowledge in one's brain, thereby insuring success and making it possible to climb continually, rather than fall behind with the majority, who seemed satisfied with what they already know.
During that winter I had many concert engagements as cornet soloist, both in and out of town, and these began to pay me well. I now realized that there was as much money in the musical profession as in any commercial line, if it were property attended to, and the thought that I was beginning to earn a good living out of the profession that I loved inspired me to work with more zest.