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Music Memory - John Devenish

Music Memory is sponsored by the Alzheimer Society of Toronto, offering the "Music For Memory Project": a program based on the effects of music and stimulation on people with dementia, by providing them with iPods containing personalized music. For more information, visit

This week we hear from Dinner Jazz's John Devenish.

"When I was about 13 my family drove to Washington, D.C. from Philadelphia and visited all of the usual sites. We also visited an aunt and uncle. They had a massive shiny white grand piano. My younger sister and I had grown up playing classical music. Practice was defined by working on a passage until it was matching the style or period it was from. Tedious and repetitive. I remember hearing infectious and beautiful music coming from the room in my aunt and uncles home where the grand was. It was like a concert. My uncle was practicing. He played at fancy functions in the city. As I think back he sounded like a cross between Bobby Short and Bill Charlap. He was playing those tunes I had often heard my father whistling. No practicing I had ever heard sounded like that. No repetition it was a SHOW. I was mesmerized – I wanted to practice like that. I got to play that piano. It was beautiful but MY music sounded so little. I know better about practice now, like the difference between it and rehearsing. But for a moment in time, once upon being 13, I let the sound of the American Songbook seduce me into thinking it was as easy as practicing like you were already at the show."

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