By Joyce DeWallace, Contributing Writer
Westborough – Call him Mr. Music. Call him multitalented. Call him prolific. Westborough resident Dennis Deyo has spent his life in the world of music. He writes and composes; teaches piano and music theory; is the director of music at the First Congregational Church in Boylston; plays the organ at St. Mary's of the Hills in Boylston; and directs and sings in a number of groups throughout the region.
Deyo's grandmother taught him to play the piano when he was 6 years old.
“I grew up in churches and started playing the organ when I was 16,” he said.
By the time he was in high school, he had learned to sight-read music, and he performed for whatever event needed a pianist. He played in a jazz band, sang in the chorus, and competed in District and All-State competitions.
“These competitions were wonderful experiences. They helped to shape the musician I am today.”
He later earned a degree in music theory and composition from Atlantic Union College in South Lancaster. And after teaching in New York City for several years, Deyo returned to central Massachusetts to care for his ailing mother. He started a storefront music studio that eventually had a dozen teachers training more than 100 students on all kinds of instruments.
“A blizzard caused the roof to collapse and ruined the building,” Deyo said. “It put me out of business.”
He kept up his work with churches both as an organist and with their choirs while teaching private students.
In the 1990s, he became a consultant to churches, helping to hire musicians and writing a 500-page employment manual. This work expanded into a complete recruitment and interview system for hiring choir directors, organists and directors of music.
By the 2000s, “Mr. Dennis,” as he is known by his students, opened a home studio with three pianos and a keyboard at 63 South St. in Westborough. Technology has changed the way he keeps records; now assignments are logged into a computer. Parents receive a weekly HEMS (which stands for Homework, Exercises, Method music and Scales) score sheet plus written lessons. He publishes and emails the “Duet Gazette” every month to promote excellence in piano playing and writes music jumbles to challenge his pupils.
“New students are always welcome,” Deyo said, “and they can reach me at 508-769-6413 or by email at [email protected].”
Deyo also gives private lessons in Marlborough, Holden, Hopkinton and Westborough. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, he has “Introduction to Piano” classes for seniors at the Westborough Senior Center and at the Willows.
“It's a different group each time. We have to make gentle progress,” he said. “The part that they like the most is when I start playing and singing my own music for the last 15 minutes of the lesson.”
“I feel everyone should have the opportunity to try to play the piano and try to do something different; have a new experience. My oldest current student is 90. My youngest is 6.”
In addition to his work on the piano and organ, Deyo sings with many groups and at various local churches. He acts as music director for both the Worcester and Serenity Christian Singles choirs. With the Journey Home Singers, he entertains patients in local hospices.
Along with these many accomplishments, Deyo has written several books. His “The Music Theory Course” is a self-teaching program as a supplement to piano lessons. Under the pen name of Damon Daigle, he published “On the Other Side of this Side: The Luby Sullivan Story” about personality disorders.
Mr. Dennis has inspired many, encouraging his students to find their best qualities and nurturing their musical aspirations. As an accomplished musician, he readily shared his many talents with the greater Worcester community. He has shown others who share his passion what they can do with the right combination of discipline, hard work and a love of music.