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Getting back in tune: The story of Justin and his missing flute

Dartmouth College lent Justin Selkow, a senior, a valuable flute to play at his upcoming recital. Then it vanished.
Todd Bookman
/
NHPR
Dartmouth College lent Justin Selkow, a senior, a valuable flute to play at his upcoming recital. Then it vanished.

In late March, NHPR’s inbox received a curious note.

“I am here to write you to ask you if you would be willing to spread the word about a missing flute,” the email began.

Justin Selkow, a senior at Dartmouth College, needed help. The New Jersey native had misplaced a solid silver handmade flute loaned to him by the school.

“Since it’s under the ownership of my school’s music department, this matter is even more urgent than usual,” he wrote us.

Every missing flute, one could argue, is an urgent matter. But Justin was facing a potentially massive bill from the school if he couldn’t locate the missing instrument, which was valued at around $10,000.

Over the next few weeks, he sought surveillance footage from his apartment complex. He reached out to the local police and the local newspaper, but nobody was able to help.

But just as the notes were turning sour, Justin — with the urging of his mom and his wildly accomplished flute instructor Rachel Braude — made one last-ditch attempt at finding the flute.

Listen to the story (by clicking the red ‘Listen’ button above) to hear how Justin’s musical journey ends.

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.