Chapter 20. TWENTIETH SERIES

Table of Contents

IGNORING FACTS AND OPPORTUNITIES
A GOOD PRACTICE STUNT
ODD TIME FILLED WITH ARRANGING

The year 1887 presented a favorable prospect tome: I had by this time thoroughly made up my mind as to what my life work was to be. As will be remembered, I had made several attempts in commercial lines without finding anything that suited me, to say nothing of the fact that this sort of work did not seem over-plentiful at the time. On the other hand, at the period of which I write, I appeared to be able to find any amount of work in the music field- in fact, jobs were practically thrown at me, I would hav been foolish to let these opportunities slip by without taking advantage of them, and decided that, no matter what objections were raised by my family, I would definitely follow music as a life profession.

I had by this time realized through past experiences and associations with other musicians, that everything does not turn out the way we expect, and that we cannot force the world to run in just the manner that we would like it to run. Having noticed a lack of proper ambition inmost of the musicians I had met, these seeming to be quite content to live on a theater salary and displaying nothing of the progressive spirit, I argued that the more I improved in music, the better position, quite naturally, I woud eventually occupy. And of course, no one can improve without study and practice.

In looking back over these years of which I write, and comparing my experiences with those of other musicians, I am astonished at the number of men content in securing some steady engagement in a theatre, and who, while they are thus employed, never seem to realize that in certain months of the year these theatres close, or every once in a while change hands(this meaning, oftentimes, two weeks' notice), and that when they are not working their expenses go on just the same-a case of "all going out and nothig coming in." It would pay these men to equip themselves with a proper knowledge of music from various angles so that they might be in a position to earn money during their layoff periods. Of course, the more branches of music that they familiarized themselves with, the more their income would be stabilized and increased in proportion.

A musician's "stock in trade" is knowledge, the product of study and practice, which he is able to sell according to its extent and quality. He advertises his talent through the good and efficient work he accomplishes. If his stock becomes low (i.e., if he does not constantly improve the range of his knowledge), in the course of time he becomes a dependent upon other musicians of a charitable and liberal bent. I have known many musicians of the type of which I speak who have had a steady theatre job for fie or ten years, and even more, and, being quite content with these engagements and what they have brought in, have never realized that the older they grew, the more incompetent they became; less able, except they had kept up with the times, to meet the competition presented by the younger men, who, quite naturally, are pushing themselves forward all the time, even to the point of trying to force the old men out. The salvation of this type of musician lies in the liberal leader who will keep his old men outof charity, when he could better his orchestra by replacing them with bright and intelligent "young blood."