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Music Memory - Norman Marshall Villeneuve

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 Canadian drumming legend Norman Marshall Villeneuve.

“The first time I knew the importance of music in my life was when, at age 7, I went to live with my foster family, the Griffith family.

My foster brother, Charles Griffith, then around 12 years old, was already a talented professional tap dancer and teacher.  He took me by the hand almost as soon as I started to live with them on Green Avenue in St. Henri.  Charles started to teach me to tap dance to standards like Sheik of Arabi, My Blue Heaven, and Bye Bye Blues.  I also started to sing along, and had a beautiful tenor voice.  I was so excited - I never imagined anything so happy and beautiful could exist.

After I got good at it, doing routines within two or three months, Charles and I would do little shows around town with a 15 year old cousin of mine, Oliver Jones, who would play piano for us.

Coming to live with the Griffiths was the real beginning of my life, my first experience with music, and a new happiness. Their family and the place we lived in with Oliver, Oscar and all the rest from St. Henri made me the happiest little kid in the world and I created the rest of my life based on this.”

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