Mr. Gilmore dismissed me cordially, thanking me for the treat I had given him, and impressed upon me the importance of being at rehearsals promptly in April. He also told me that in order to play in his band I must join the New York Musical Union, an act compulsory for every member, that I was to provide myself with a Gilmore uniform and the necessities for traveling, as well as all my solos with full band arrangements. As I left his home, my feet seemed so light that they hardly touched the ground. I was simply in a trance! It was a great satisfaction to me, also, to realize that all my struggles in the past were rewarded, and that my perseverance was not in vain. I was then in my twenty-fourth year, and seemed really too young to have accomplished my hearts desire so soon. A reaction soon set in, and I began to realize that the effort made in playing before Mr. Gilmore had been a strain. My lungs ached, my lips were sore, and my nervous system suffered most of all. For several days the effects of this strain hold on me, yet I was repaid for it all in the end.
Brother, Ernest was quite as pleased over my success as I. Now we both would be together again, this time as members of the greatest band in the world. Ern had not heard me play for years, and was himself astonished at my improvement as he was that I had gained the position he so wanted me to occupy.
I returned home to Toronto the following day, my thoughts full of the future, making up my mind now that I had a real start. I would show Mr. Gilmore how I could improve with the experience I would obtain after playing with him a while, and how I would be able to make myself useful to him in many ways.
Upon reaching Toronto, I explained my good fortune to my employers, who in the most encouraging terms congratulated me upon my securing the desired position, and were perfectly willing to release me from my obligations saying that while they were sorry to lose me, yet they were proud that a Toronto boy had won the highest position within the grasp of a cornetist. I wired Mr. Gilmore in regard to this release so that he would be sure of me for his tour.
I had nearly two months before me to get a substitute for my position as bandmaster. and I wished to leave my band in good hands. Fortunately, as the position was a good one, I found no trouble in securing a man from New York, Mr. Thomas Baugh, who was well known to all the boys, and a first-class musician in every way. So the Heintzman Band continued to keep up its reputation, and everybody was satisfied.
My practice during these few weeks was done with more thought and carefulness than ever, especially on the point of endurance, a thing very necessary with Gilmore; for I would have to play first cornet in the band, and solos at every concert, the whole requiring more energy than any one realizes until one has done this kind of work.
The citizens of Toronto were very proud that one of their boys had won the distinction of appearing in this world-famed organization, which was equally as popular in Toronto as it was in New York, and, to show their appreciation of my past efforts, on the eve of my departure for New York, tendered me a testimonial concert, in which all the professional celebrities in the neighborhood of Toronto took part, thus giving me the most wonderful send-off I have ever experienced. The proceeds were handed me as a token of esteem and admiration for the musical work I had been doing for the past five years.
Having reached the pinnacle of my ambition, I made up my mind that I must work all the harder to hold it, and add new laurels through perseverance and ambition; this I have always tried to do.
And now, this little story of mine must end, and I honestly hope that my readers have not tired reading of my A Cornet-Playing Pilgrim's Progress experiences from boyhood, up, and also that many will derive some benefit in their work from these chapters and be helped to better things. It is all up to the individual himself. He must persevere, and whatever he wants in this life, he must go after himself. People who lean on others to push them ahead cannot succeed; they, themselves, must develop a stronger manhood. It must be remembered, that all have an equal chance to rise to success, provided they have the initial talent, and work property and conscientiously. There is no luck in cornet playing, at least I have never found it so. One, of course, must have self-confidence; the least doubt of oneself of any kind will bring failure. I was cornet soloist with Gilmore at the age of twenty-four, held the same position with Sousa at twenty-five and did not really know how to play the cornet correctly until I was thirty-five! Since then it has never been a task to play my chosen instrument all day long.