Music Memory – Nina Papazian

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 listener Nina Papazian.

“My favourite music memory is dancing in our family living room in the late 1960’s, to Louis Armstrong’s recording of “Hello Dolly”. My mother died in 1968. I was six years old and my sister was 12. Dancing with my sister brought us a lighthearted, playful experience, during a time of family bereavement. My father raised my sister and I on his own. He had played jazz trumpet since the 1940’s, and only put his trumpet down at age 90. Jazz was the backdrop of our family life.

Now at age 92, my father’s memories are slipping away. I recently prepared a coffee for my father and asked him if I had made to strong a brew for him. Unexpectedly, he replied, in a low, gravelly, jazzy voice, not unlike Louis himself; ‘I love strong coffee!’ ‘Dad, you sound like Louis Armstrong!’ My dad had an impish grin on his face. My father and I have shared our love for jazz throughout my lifetime. When I hear Louis Armstrong now on JAZZ.FM91, in a heartbeat I am transported to my childhood, and into a memory that is not one of sadness and pain, but of joy and release. And while my dad may grasp for memories now outside of his reach, he always recognizes the sounds of ‘Satchmo’, and when he and I are listening to jazz together, I think to myself, ‘what a wonderful world.'”