ONONDAGA COUNTY, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Daniel Yost finds beauty in the least expected places. He’s making music from an instrument made from trash. He uses cast-off pieces of wood.
Since he was a child in Argentina, his life has revolved around one thing.
“We start in the morning. Music. During the day. Music. And sleep. Music. Ha ha,” Yost said.
Yost has built his career around his passion for music. He builds instruments. He directs a church choir. And he teaches children music and now to build their own instruments from found materials.
Yost said, “Child, from your first time in your life to take a drill and pshhhhhht. Wow! To drill! Rrrrrr, and don’t stop!”
He’s also built his life around music.
Cuban singer and instrumentalist Liamna Pestana first contacted Yost when she needed help with her guitars. Next thing she knew, he was plucking her heartstrings.
“He was doing my instruments and then when we met in person, it was what something happened. Haha haha. And we started our relationship,” Pestana said.
A difficult economy in Argentina and a cousin in Syracuse brought the couple to Central New York three years ago. Pestana teaches guitar and voice and also sings in Schola Cantorum. They’ve gotten great support from family, the church where Yost works and from community resources, like the CNY Latino newspaper. And they are trying to give back by sharing their enthusiasm with the young people they teach.
Pestana said, “The first to me is that they need to see my passion. So, I love when I can share that passion when I see that they, I can move them. I love when I put that seed in them, because I see that something gets transformed when you do that. And they can understand what is happening in between both.”
Yost and Pestana specialize in early music: Melodies from medieval times and the renaissance.
Yost first built this own instruments when he couldn’t find what he needed to teach the music. Stringed instruments of the time, he found, were built one by one. Every one was different, so each one he creates has a voice of its own.
When Yost first moved to Syracuse from Argentina, he didn’t speak a word of English. But he did speak the international language of music. That, they think, is what helps them stand apart as artists and as teachers. Too often, Pestana says, teachers focus on the wrong things when they work with young people.
Pestana said, “They think that they just need a method. And the method not always is the best. You need also to understand what is happening inside.”
And that’s good advice in any language.