About 1875, John S. Smith who played E flat Cornet in the Kaiser Band took over the leadership reigns. Under his direction, and largely due to his efforts, the band was organized officially as the Berlin Musical Society in 1877. John was a resident of Berlin who was partnered as a wholesale merchant in his firm of Steubing and Smith. But his zealous work and interest in music over this 20 year period brought the band to a prominence it had not before enjoyed. Not a small part of the reason was his great musical talent; not only was he known for his brass playing, but he could also play reed and string instruments.
When the first bandfest was held in Berlin in 1875, the Band added reed instrumentation for the first time in concert. The Band was growing. By the time the Band travelled to Guelph (one of the first times the band travelled) in 1879 there were 36 players. They had gone to Guelph to participate in a band tournament held to celebrate the incorporation of Guelph as a City. The Berlin Musical Society Band took the $400.00 first prize.
Earlier on March 3rd of the same year, the Berlin Musical Society Band had become the official band of the 29th Regiment. It became one of the most prominent bands in the province according to the Daily Record of May 11, 1932. One of the best cornetists in the country at the time was Dick Smith who later moved to Detroit. Also during this time, Noah Zeller, a self-taught musician from Breslau became a prominent musical force playing the E flat clarinet with the Band. It should also be noted here that there were only men in the band during these years. Women finally entered the local band scene under George Zeigler in the 1920s when the Kitchener Ladies Band was organized. At its prime it boasted up to 94 members and as a result, was the "largest and most completely equipped ladies band in the world" according to publicity about the group from the 1920s and 30s.
In addition to leading the Band, John also played trumpet in the band from 1876 to 1887 when he last conducted the band.