Video that went viral changed Goshen musician’s life

GOSHEN — Last summer, Ted Yoder was tired of playing background music at wineries.

He and his wife Donna were tired of the negative climate, particularly around politics.

They were emotionally tired of trying to raise a family of nine off the money he made playing the hammered dulcimer, an instrument that looks like the result of combining a piano and a coffee table.

That was 94.6 million Facebook views, 1.8 million shares ago and 2.9 million “likes” or other emojied responses.

Video: Listen in: Ted Yoder on hammered dulcimer

Life is much like it was a year ago for the Yoder family. Ted and Donna work at helping Ted play music. The kids play and study at home.

Yet in many ways, life won’t go back to what it was before they went viral.

The rendition of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” the Tears for Fears song Yoder was playing for the second time ever publicly, became an internet sensation.

Using the then-new technology of broadcasting live video on Facebook, millions of people got to know this happy family from Goshen. And a raccoon. “You guys want to meet the raccoon real quick?” he asked before letting the animal named Gidget crawl on his head.

The video turned him into a world phenomenon. Two members of Tears for Fears visited their home, starred in another Facebook Live video, and are now friends. Supporting his family got a whole lot easier as the phone started ringing, the notifications started pinging, even to the point that he turns it off sometimes just to breathe.

“At the time it was slim pickings as to what gigs you would get,” he said in that same backyard last week.

He had quit his sales job in 2010 to focus on his instrument, though his mother also likes it when he sings. He wants to entertain on stage using an instrument that he said is mythical, ethereal and “is like playing drums on a stringed instrument.”

He has made a career playing cover songs and originals. He wants to be authentic onstage and in life. That’s probably what sparked this strong response from millions of people. Somehow, his song and personality made people feel something good and they responded in kind. “When it comes down to it, we’re human. We just need to be human to each other,” he said.

So many people have encouraged them and what they have done. “America gave us hope again. Actually, the world,” said Donna.

Early this year, after the video went viral in Brazil, someone called and asked Yoder to play at a wedding. So he flew to a Brazilian island to play at the celebration.

The family spent eight weeks in Florida this past winter as Yoder played eight weeks at Busch Gardens.

The number and types of opportunities has shifted because of that viral video. His booking fee is triple what it was. Most don’t balk at the price and he’s realized that he was more scared of success than failure. “It’s made me a better musician,” he said of the experiences.

His new album will be out this fall, including some vocals. Making the album helped him hone his craft as a musician. A friend and producer pushed him toward excellence. Now that he’s earning more for concerts, “you better believe I better bring it,” Yoder said.

He sells out concerts, some of which still happen in churches and libraries. “There’s a lot more people showing up at my gigs now and it’s helpful,” he said.

Though he’s known across the world, he also has a local audience. He’ll play two shows at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair on July 21.

The video from that August afternoon, which he said had enough mistakes he can hardly listen to it now, is still being liked and shared.

Somehow, despite weak cell phone and internet connections, the Yoder family pushed something onto the internet that took off and changed their lives.

“We’re going to grow beyond what Ted and I can produce,” Donna said.

Their positivity sparked something. Because of it, he is a different musician and their lives are different. Their business, which is their life, is still growing.

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