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Musician Kevin Coates goes digital with performance to mark seniors’ month

June is seniors’ month, and in keeping that spirit, Seniors’ Centre Without Walls, the cities of Kitchener and  Cambridge, and Woolwich Seniors Association have joined together to host a celebration featuring musician Kevin Coates.

Thursday afternoon (June 10), the Waterloo-based musician will be performing for seniors digitally to celebrate seniors’ month.

“I’ve been playing for a lot of seniors through virtual shows, and that’s been a real joy. I have been doing that all through the through the winter, and have more coming up. And happily, starting this Friday, I’m doing my first outdoor show for them. So, with weather changing, that’s going to be great. And I have several of them booked in the next little while,” said Coates.

For several years, Coates has been performing for seniors region-wide. During the pandemic, he found it essential to bring the music to the long-term care facilities and retirement homes of Waterloo Region.

“I think the memory of music is something that stays with them and keeps seniors motivated. And I think motivation is really important during this time. 

“For me, I know how challenging it has been for seniors during this pandemic, especially and, it’s just so essential to me that I can see some smiles on their faces,” he said.

Although digital is not the same as in-person, the musician has found a way to set up his equipment through a P.A. system and into an audio box, allowing it to feel more like an in-person experience. 

Coates has also tried to make the shows as interactive as possible by chatting with the seniors who are tuned in through computers and tablets, leaving room to chat before, after and during his set.

“When I play, everybody goes on mute so that everyone’s not talking all at once, and so on. They put me on screens at seniors’ homes – three or four different levels at once – as well as individual iPads and rooms. It’s all over – it’s hilarious. And then they invite their families sometimes to be part of it,” said Coates.

His set-list will include songs from the ’30s right through the ‘50s and ‘60s, some upbeat tracks, and some quieter melodic pieces using piano, guitar and voice.

Coates said he enjoys playing for senior audiences, and has seen how they’ve coped through the pandemic.

“[They] keep positive as the they have been on a once-in-a-lifetime journey together through this pandemic, and we’re getting to the other side together. I commend them for their resilience, for sure. I commend them for their positive spirit. When I played for them, I can see that they are certainly still positive, and they’re excited to get on the other side of this pandemic together.”

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