Columbia View Lodge

Trail, BC

Adopted By

Ray MacDonald

RBC Dominion Securities

The Gentle Music Program is such a valuable tool for enhancing the quality of life, easing anxiety and agitation and providing a means for verbal/non-verbal communication of the participating residents. Smiles, toe and finger tapping, eye contact, body movement is all captured by our music therapist. This program is such a valuable resource. As for the Ukulele Club, the laughing and conversation, concentration and learning experience has been fantastic. On numerous occasions the participants played and sang songs for the staff members to show us what they learned in the lesson. All of the participants were anxious to take the instrument and music book home/to their room so that they could practice before the next lesson.”

Margot Wright

Recreation Therapist

CVL embodies a resident-centered philosophy designed to support residents’ choices, help people function at their highest level, and provide the best quality of life possible. Two unique programs serve specific populations: Gentle Music is designed for residents with low verbal and cognitive skills and the Ukulele Club provides music therapy to the general CVL population and the Bridges Adult Day Program.

Gentle Music works with a strictly limited number of residents (4 – 6) to ensure attention for each person. This group encourages conversation and focuses participant attention on a specific activity such as personal contact, playing an instrument, or listening to a song. The age range of the residents is between mid-50’s to early 90’s.

The new addition of the Ukulele Club in 2020 was introduced with much enthusiasm. Chords are taught to the cognitively alert residents and participants in the day program. An adapted Ukulele was used as a rhythm instrument for those who have difficulty fingering the chords. Learning an instrument can be very challenging for elderly clients and residents, but the rewards are immense and the sense of accomplishment, whether as a Ukulele player or as a rhythm player, are enormously gratifying.


Most of the clientele are persons with complex medical needs and require 24 hour care. Most are elderly and many are affected by dementia.

How does Music Therapy uniquely address the needs of clients at CVL?

The two unique Music Therapy groups at CVL support socialization, help with memory loss and provide opportunities for residents to build relationships with therapists, staff and other residents. The Gentle Music group provides personal attention to residents who are challenged by the busier environment of a large music group. A resident’s gaze at the therapist’s guitar will cue her to balance the instrument in their lap and guide their hand over the strings. Tuneless humming becomes communication when supported by the therapist’s voice and when a smile breaks over someone’s previously blank face, she knows they have connected. The Ukulele Club provides participants opportunities to joke with each other or comment on the challenges they face while learning a new skill. They encourage their neighbor and give pointers based on their own experiences. The energy is high and the pride obvious as the group plays through their repertoire.

How has COVID-19 impacted the program?

The Music Therapy Program at CVL was stopped in mid-March 2020 due to Interior Health’s COVID-19 restrictions. Typically, Music Therapy is not offered in the summer months between June and August. Furthermore, the regular music therapist had a death in the family, and is expected to resume her therapy offering in early 2021. The program had a total suspension period of 3.5 months (Mid-March to end-September, excluding June to August) in 2020. Going forward, Music Therapy at CVL is scheduled to resume towards the beginning of October 2020 with an interim provider.

Adopting this program will allow these two unique Music Therapy groups to continue to serve residents at Columbia View Lodge (CVL). Both programs are envisaged to continue in 2021 in the same format as 2020. However, due to COVID-19, group sizes may be limited as residents have to stay within their 6 person bubble.

“The enthusiasm of the Ukulele Club participants has been inspiring. One woman actually phoned the music therapist at home, asking for more lessons.

Another participant canceled the bus pickup one morning because of a visit from her out-of-town daughter. Creating mixed emotions in the family the daughter exclaimed: “Oh Mom, you can’t miss Ukulele!” The daughter put her mom in the car and drove her to the group.

In another instance, when COVID-19 closed the Ukulele Club at CVL, two participants who lived in the same seniors complex found a neighbor to help them continue to learn the Ukulele.

Ukelele ignited much enthusiasm at CVL and it is a great pity that COVID-19 placed a temporary hold on the program. They envisage growth of the Ukelele Club once Karen is able to resume her role as Music Therapist at CVL.”

Karen yamazaki

Karen Yamazaki is an accredited Music Therapist, since February 2009. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Therapy (BMT) from Capilano University in 2008. She has also been a member of both the Canadian Association for Music Therapy and Music Therapy Association of British Columbia since 2008 to present. She provides group and individual music therapy to residents in long-term care facilities and specialize in working with geriatric clients, with of without dementia and other neurological conditions.

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