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CBN.com Beckon back to the days of old. Silent films are still a would-be movie director's fantasy. Radio, well, that is yet to be invented. And let's not even mention television. It's hard to believe that only a hundred years ago people had to entertain themselves.
JOHN DOAN: A lot of times people would have zithers or guitars or banjos.
SHANNON WOODLAND: What's a zither?
JOHN DOAN: The most famous of the zithers is the autoharp, an American invention, and this one is from 1882.
SHANNON WOODLAND (reporting): John Doan is more than a musician. He's an entertainer, a historian, and a storyteller.
JOHN DOAN: I've found so many interesting artifacts from this time that have a certain charm to them, and they all sort of tell a story about who we were.
(John plays "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" on the crankorgan.) This was one subtle way that it started to creep in, mechanical entertainment.
SHANNON WOODLAND: Except for the person who cranked because they were getting the aerobic workout!
SHANNON WOODLAND (reporting): John Doan is one of those accomplished musicians who makes music look so simple that even I wanted to learn. That's why he does what he does.
JOHN DOAN: This was the age of invention, and so there were all sorts of things created.
SHANNON WOODLAND: How many instruments do you play?
JOHN DOAN: Oh, these were something where anyone in the household could play.
SHANNON WOODLAND: I don't know about me, but you made it look easy.
JOHN DOAN: I'll play the very first American carol that gained widespread acceptance, "It Came upon a Midnight Clear".
SHANNON WOODLAND (reporting): John has never been one to keep all these instruments to himself. About 16 years ago, he began touring his Victorian Christmas program around the country, and it even aired on PBS in Portland, Oregon. John's album, Wrapped in White: Visions of Christmas Past is sure to strike a chord with many people's memories.
SHANNON WOODLAND: (after John plays "Go Tell It On The Mountain" on the banjo) What is it about music?
JOHN DOAN: It's something beyond words. It's nonverbal. It parodies our emotions. In that piece, 'Go tell it on the Mountain,' is jubilation, it's celebration. Go tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born!
So many people have instruments in their attic from grandma, and that's a part of their heritage. They should pull them out and even try to play something on them.
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