Of course, I was well thought of in my own city, and this naturally flattered me and gave me the conceit to think that I might probably make good. But when I began to realize that I was simply coming from the "backwoods" so to speak, without the experience necessary for such an organization, it dawned upon me that my coming to New York was the result of some ambitious dreams, promoted by the local reputation I had made in Toronto, and the persistent letters from Ernest to make a tryout. It seemed audacious on my part ever to attempt such an impossibility. One can imagine my feelings as the time drew near for my appointment with Mr. Gilmore.
However, the trip to New York was expensive, and I was not going back a coward, even if I failed in the examination. Anyway, I would have the honor of playing before Mr. Gilmore, and perhaps learn something from any suggestions he might offer, and when I grew older, I would be in a better position and condition to make another trial at that time. I made up my mind that I would do my very best, even if I failed to satisfy him.
With this thought uppermost in my mind, and the knowledge that if I - ever expected to win out and become a great artist I must go after just what I wanted, and furthermore that even if this tryout proved a failure, it would not kill me, I walked bravely to Mr. Gilmore's home, rang the bell, and was ushered into his beautiful library, and was told to wait a few moments.
While looking around the room I discovered a photo of myself and wondered how it came to be there. It was beside a picture of my brother Ernest, who probably had given it to this great bandmaster. Mr. Gilmore was a man who kept in touch with every soloist in the world, and I felt proud that my picture was exhibited in his home. This gave me even greater courage to do my best when the time came for me to play before him. I realized that this event was the crisis of my life, and that I must put forth every effort I could command in my playing. I determined to "win out or bust", knowing that if I should get the least bit nervous, it would take away ninety percent of my skill, and leave me only ten per cent to work on, which would surely spell disaster.
Brother Ernest accompanied me to Mr. Gilmore's home, and kept encouraging me to do my best, telling me of the wonderful chance to be heard all over the world as a soloist, and of the experience I would gain in seeing different cities, besides the opportunity presented of hearing other great soloists and learning much from them, an opportunity I would not have living in one city all the rest of my life. He pointed out that my musical education would benefit a thousand fold in this environment of association with the best musicians in the world.
Of course, this inspired me with thoughts of what I might accomplish in the musical field, should I satisfy Mr. Gilmore with my playing, and I really braced up and made up my mind that I would obtain the position I sought, and with this determination, half my battle was fought, and I was ready to show just what I could do.