COVID-19 can’t stop the music: Balcony boogies for seniors, and a daughter serenades her ailing father

From trumpet-playing for dad, to a community dance-off at a seniors’ home, music is bringing people together during the time of COVID-19.

More than a dozen seniors at an independent living home in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood took to their balconies to boogie on Wednesday. Fitness instructors blasted music from the courtyard below and led the routine. 

“They all were so happy, we had one person who was crying actually,” said Michael Salhani, general manager of Arbutus Walk.

Watch the dance-off at the seniors’s home:

Residents of a retirement home in Kitsilano follow along to an outdoor fitness dance class from their patios, boogieing while social distancing. 0:30

Arbutus Walk is an independent-living community home where the residents are able to come and go as they please. But now, they’re are spending more and more time alone in their rooms self-isolating to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

“The whole idea of moving in here is for the social aspect of it,” Salhani said. “But these days we can’t offer that.”

It’s not just the senior residents finding joy in coming together from afar. Salhani said several neighbours joined in from their own balconies as well. 

“I didn’t expect it to blow up the way it did,” he said. “Everyone was very excited.”

Now it’s turning into a weekly dance-off, with the next one planned for Tuesday.  Salhani says he will let the neighbouring apartment buildings know in advance so they can join in from their patios, too.

A daughter with a trumpet

Samantha Monckton’s father, who’s blind and has dementia, is one of the patients at a long-term care home who has tested positive for COVID-19. 

Over the last few days, she’s been bringing the music to him and playing her trumpet outside the window of his third-floor room.

“I was sick of not being able to connect with him, and music is one of the best ways to do that,” Monckton told On The Coast host Gloria Macarenko. 

“I wanted to make sure that he could hear something from me, because he can’t see me, he can’t wave at me.”

Monckton pictured with her father. He is now battling COVID-19. (Josh Berson)

She says music has always been important in her family. 

“He loves this song, the one that I play; he used to play it for me when we were kids,” she said. “We would sing it together.”

Watch Samantha Monckton play for her father:

For the last few days, Samantha Monckton has been playing her trumpet outside her father’s third-floor care home window. He has tested positive for COVID-19. 0:42

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