Chapter 8. EIGHTH SERIES

Table of Contents

A BIT OF BOYISH POPULARITY
AN EMBOUCHURE EXPERIENCE
MERCANTILE VERSUS THE MUSICAL

I waited until my lips were thoroughly healed of their soreness caused by inadvertent contact with a frosted cornet mouthpiece (this happened, you will remember, when playing for my first time out-of-doors in a twenty-degree below zero temperature), and then resumed practice, only now in a different way from that which heretofore, I had been following. I established for myself a rule of regular routine, and ceased trying to acquire in a short time what I really sensed could be accomplished only through a mre or less extended period, Experience obtained from constant attendance of the band rehearsals had taught me that nothing was to be gained by trying to play when my lips were tired, for they not only would swell but fail to vibrate and respond as they ought. So, in order to overcome this trouble, ]would practice for only ten minutes atone time, and then rest a few minutes to allow the blood in the lips to again flow normally. The entire time of these ten-minutes periods was devoted to practicing the same lementary study many times over very carefully. This not only served to make me become more accurate in my general playing, but gave me greater self-confidence.

After completing this regular daily routine, my next move would be to take the march book of the band and try to play an entire piece through without stopping. Of course I succeeded in accomplishing this after a while, as I was playing only the third cornet part which was confined wholly to the middle registers. Nevertheless, so many of the notes were what are known as the "after beats" that my practice-playing must have sounded rather strange to anyone hearing me. Then I became anxious to develop myself i the first cornet parts which of course contained the melody, but such wished-for consummation proved itself to be very far distant, and this for the simple reason that my embouchure being weak and underdeveloped, I could not play the high tones and keep it up for any length of time.

As the one boy in school who belonged too regimental band and this regiment being the crack" military organization of Canada at the time, I grew to be quite popular among the other boys, many of whom harbored aspirations themselves of some day becoming members of the same regiment. Away back in the "eighties" all the public schools of Toronto included in their regular course drilling and the manual of arms. These drill exercises were considered as important as were mathematics, history or grammar. One houreach day was given up to the drilling, and once a week we were inspected by an officer in the regular service, who also taught us marching and how to handle arms - possibly a sort of "preparedness" in case of war! Under such regime, it is hardly necessary to say that when the boys had graduated and become eligible to join a regiment, they did not remain long in the "awkward squad," having learned military tactics while in school.

It was about this time that I began to play cornet in Sunday school, leading the singing, and naturally had to learn how to transpose and play the hymns a tone higher than the keys in which they were written. This at first was something very difficult for me, as when a hymn was written in, say the key of C, I had to play in D (two sharps), and soon. To gain confidence in transposing, I took the hymn book home and commenced the study of transposition by writing out the various hymns a tone higher. This was wonderful help, but I very soon discovered that it would be necessary for me to play in many more keys that were only in two sharps or two flats, I commenced playing them in three, four, five and even six sharps and flats. At the start this was extremely difficult. I was obliged to play everything very slowly, thinking carefully of each note and interval while pressing my fingers down on the valves with determination. And thus it was that in clue time I mastered nearly all the keys by thoroughly practicin their scales.