But the strictly cornet work was not neglected because of the song playing, for it was by attending these various concerts that I became familiar with the playing of great celebrities, such as Jules Levy, pioneer of the cornet and most powerful and brilliant soloist of the age, Walter Emerson who was an exceptionally good soloist, Liberati the neatest and most dashing soloist I ever heard in those days; and the great trombonist, Fred Neil Innes, who, although not a cornetist, could execute on his trombone any cornet solo in Levy's repertoire with marvelous dexterity and fidelity to the original. There also were many lesser lights, all of whom were excellent in their individual line of work.
In later years it was my good fortune to meet and become intimately acquainted with the great players mentioned, as I found that merely exchanging ideas with them were lessons almost priceless, each one having a distinctive individuality in his playing which had made him renowned throughout the entire country. Boy-like, I tried to imitate their playing in my amateurish way when doing my daily practicing and naturally without any great degree of success, but I soon began to distinguish the more minute diffeences in their styles. I never once thought of criticizing their playing, as all were too great for me to try to find any flow or faults, and I didn't have the nerve to attempt it.
After an evening at a concert where I had listened to any one of the great ones play, I would go home and lie awake half the night thinking of all that I had heard, and as my memory was good (at least in music matters) I could follow mentally the solos they had played almost note for note. Of all these many concerts I attended, the most impressive was one in which I heard the inimitable Patti sing the simple little ballad of Home, Sweet Home. I sat entranced, and when she had finished, like the rest of the audience I had tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. Her singing of the old song was revelation which induced me to try to imitate her on the cornet, although I realized it would be next to impossible. Nevertheless, it helped to purify my tone and taught me to play as softly as such a song stress must sing when rendering simple songs in a way to affect an entire audience as it had me.