DNTO: Playing around with inspiring musical instruments

Musical instruments can have a life of their own. They can help us find our own beat, bridge the distance between us and other people, and revive us in our toughest moments.
(Keith Levit Photography)
Listen to the full episode1:17:41

Musical instruments can have a life of their own. They can help us find our own beat, bridge the distance between us and other people, and revive us in our toughest moments.

Today on DNTO, from trumpets to hockey sticks we're getting the stories behind the instruments that make the sounds all around us.

Actor, director and performer Debbie Patterson retraces her remarkable relationship with her accordion, starting with the night her accordion came to her rescue when she found herself at a gig without a costume.

When Joshua Levy wanted to woo an attractive neighbour, he turned to the harmonica! Josh shares why he thinks the harmonica is a romantic instrument.

(Supplied by Guy Few)
Guy Few was destined to be a musician. From an early age, he learned how to play both the piano and the trumpet. And he kept it up, building his professional career around the two instruments. But in 1990 he suffered a grand mal seizure that would challenge his ability to play both instruments. Hear his inspiring story of recovery.​

Do you remember the first instrument you played? Polaris Prize and Juno Award nominee Basia Bulat tells the story of the precious guitar her mother gave her... and what happened after it was smashed to pieces. 

John Mang's life-long love of the Hammond organ began in his childhood. He played keyboards in rock and pop bands and built a career working at the CBC. Then one day he decided to follow a lead on an organ that was for sale and when he saw the plaque on the organ, his memories came flooding back.

As a music teacher and a recycler, Mark Sepic came up with a most inventive use for broken hockey sticks - turn them into xylophones! Mark brought one of his creations to our studios so we could see this homemade instrument in action.


Sook-Yin and Duane Forrest

Sook-Yin wanders over to St. Stephen's Community House to visit youth worker Duane Forrest. He grew up in a tough neighbourhood in Toronto and credits beating his drum pads with his headphones on, to getting him through life as a troubled teen. He sits down with his treasured guitar and plays us a song.

Aaron Goldstein  discovered the pedal steel guitar listening to Neil Young songs when he was at university. He was so intrigued about the instrument, he set out to find one but had no idea it was a tricky instrument to master. He paused on the side of the road touring with Elliott Brood to tell us his steel guitar love story. 

Wab Kinew explains how the drum provides the soundtrack for his prayer at the Sun Dance ceremony. 

Sitting in a laundromat with a community of people he regularly saw but never spoke to, artist  Luke Jerram wondered how he could reach out to them. He decided the piano would be the perfect icebreaker. Luke invented the Play Me I'm Yours art installation that has placed 1,300 pianos in 45 cities worldwide. 

Journalist Jan Wong started playing the flute in high school, and quickly fell in love with it. But when the backlash to a controversial article caused her to fall in to a deep depression, she realized the true power of the instrument. 

Hear why Bob Lee has been haunted his entire life by a violin he inherited from his uncle, going so far as to hide it away in the trunk of an abandoned car, only to have it disappear and cause more havoc in his life.

This week's Playlist
Guy Few, G27 Orchestra and Nadina Mackie-Jackson - "Man Will Only Grieve if He Believes the Sun Stands Still"
Basia Bulat - "I Was a Daughter"
Faith Healer - "Again"
Scott Nolan - "You Rock, We Roll"
Sue Medley and the Back Road Band - "Letting Go"
Elliott Brood - "Mission Bell"
Kinnie Starr - "First Time"
Regina Spektor - "Eet"
Blood Ceremony - "Goodbye Gemini"
The Waterboys - "Fisherman's Blues"