Often in my practice, finding that I cannot accomplish something I try for in a certain way, I simply try another way, in fact, several ways, as there is no set rule for correct playing, except to be absolutely perfect in each exercise one practices. This principle, followed out, gives us the experience necessary to win. Keep on trying to do the best you can. Gain knowledge by asking questions when in doubt, and never give up, no matter what you have to face.
Whenever a player imagines he is "good" his career is ended. Remember that the more we learn, the less we seem to know, and the better we play, the more mistakes we discover in our efforts. Consequently, perfection is never reached. Even if the public congratulates us upon a good performance, we all know secretly that the result has been far from what we intended it to be, and this knowledge inspires us to correct the little faults we discover in our work of yesterday. Flattery is our most dangerous enemy. I did not make my reputation; it was made by the public. All I had to do was to back the public by trying always to give a good performance.
I think it was in the fall of 1890 that I was tendered the leadership of the Heintzman's Piano Company Band, an organization in Toronto that had come to the front musically, being composed of good musicians who were secured through employment offered by the firm. The position had been made open through the resignation of the band's former leader, Mr. Thomas Baugh, who, after having made a success of the band, had returned to New York.
Thinking the matter over seriously, and realizing that such a position would give me more prestige, as well as more experience, I decided to accept, which necessitated my resigning as a cornet soloist of the Queen's Own Regimental Band, and after the expiration of my second enlistment term of three years, I was given an honorable discharge.
My duties as bandmaster called for responsibilities for different than simply playing cornet in a band, for I now assumed full control of the men, with the additional burden of procuring engagements. I was also given more opportunities in the musical line. So I began to hustle around for all kinds of engagements, with the standing of the Heintzman company to back me. I was surprised at the first rehearsal to hear the men play so well. There were about forty members and these took much interest in the orgaization. My experience in band work under the direction of Mr. John Bayley, bandmaster of the Queen's Own Regimental Band, together with what I had learned as a member of the Philharmonic Orchestra under Dr. F.H. Torrington, helped me to try to interpret good music property, and the men responded splendidly at rehearsals.
I owe much of my success to Mr. Bayley, as he so often drilled me in my solo playing at his home, showing me the stories of each, and playing the music on the piano. He was one of the best accompanists I ever had, besides excelling on the violin. He was concertmaster of the orchestra, a wonderful organist, and one of the best clarinet players I have ever heard. The same held true in the case of Dr. Torrington, who had played violin with Theodore Thomas, and was considered, at that time, the best organist i Toronto. So with this environment, I very naturally, when a boy, absorbed the best in music, and certainty made good use of my chances, never losing an opportunity of asking vital questions concerning music from both of these splendid musicians, and never forgetting anything they told me. These experiences prepared me for a career later in life, and it is needless to say that I was very thankful for them.