My mind reverts to the childhood days when we moved from my birthplace (Woburn, Massachusetts) to Dayton, Ohio, my father having accepted a position in the latter city as church organist and music director of the public schools. I was then between four and five years of age, and having shown a taste for band music was provided with a drum as my first band instrument, I played fairly well for a kid - walking up and down the yard while drumming, humming tunes to its playing and imagining myself a whole band. O, how I did love a band of music! All my youthful dreams were filled with bands and uniforms!
It was about this time that our father became curious to learn how much musical talent we boys had, if any, and to try the thing out he purchased four small-sized violins for us. He began our teaching by showing us the proper way of holding the instrument, how to hold and use the bow and where to place the fingers; then he wrote some simple music in quartet form, giving each boy a part. Of course, we were extremely awkward at first in trying to hold the violin correctly, while at the same time holding the bow in the proper manner to produce a musical tone. However, father was very patient with us and explained so thoroughly, yet simply, how to "make sounds" that we managed to play our parts together somehow and heard the results. It must have been pretty crude as music, but to me it sounded like a regular orchestra and I was proud of being able to take part in a real ensemble.
When the music was placed before me and the notes explained, what each one meant, and I was shown where and how to properly place the fingers to reproduce in tone the mitten notes - although it was the first time I had ever noticed written music - its reading seemed to come quite naturally to me, for I at once grasped the sense of it, I was then only about five years old, and have read music ever since. It was only natural that, after we had rehearsed and could play his little composition, father was quite proud to see his experiment prove fruitful.
This apparently trivial and seemingly unimportant part of these reminiscences may not be of any great interest to the readers, yet it has been introduced with a definite purpose in view - the accentuation of the value in environment and atmosphere when beginning with music, I wish to impress upon my colleagues the point that, having been brought up within the best of musical environments, perhaps I have had more and greater opportunities than the average boy. Father never would allow us to play harshly or at all coarsely (i.e. vulgarly); he taught us that music was an ART, not a TRADE and being of an extremely sensitive nature himself he could not and would not endure "noise" in music.