Fountains of Uke

Fountains of Uke


Fountains of Uke is a community engagement program that uses musical and non-musical activities to connect seniors in long-term care (LTC) with elementary students in order to bridge intergenerational gaps. The partnerships between LTC homes and elementary schools in the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) are constructed such that they are within walking distance of each other. For one month, McMaster University students facilitate visits that have each been created based on scholarly literature to ensure all stakeholders (LTC residents, elementary students, McMaster students, elementary school teachers) benefit.


LTC Residents

Residents of LTC homes are in critical need of meaningful engagement opportunities, especially given the rapid growth of the aging population. As such, it is critical to ensure that therapeutic activities are available to ensure that they are receiving the highest quality of care. In particular, LTC residents are highly susceptible to depression and loneliness, which can negatively impact their health and well-being. By participating in Fountains of Uke, residents are given able to engage with music and form meaningful relationships with both the elementary and McMaster students. Evidence shows such engagement can improve health and well-being in LTC residents. Furthermore, due to the ability of music to stimulate more brain areas than any other activity of daily living, Fountains of Uke also provides biological benefits to LTC residents.


Elementary Students

The elementary students taking part in the program are typically between the ages of 8-11. There is literature to support that these ages are when children develop and refine their ability to empathize, which is essential in order to connect meaningfully with others. To nurture this developmental milestone, Fountains of Uke provides elementary students with opportunities to practice socializing with LTC residents and McMaster students in an environment that is safe and supportive. Moreover, literature suggests that participating in intergenerational programs can promote behaviours that improve engagement in the classroom, which can positively impact their learning and academic success.


McMaster Students

The students from McMaster University facilitate these visits as part of their coursework in HTH SCI 3MU3: Music, Health and the Community. Within this course, students learn about music, its biopsychosocial effects, and the benefits of intergenerational programming. Equipped with this theoretical foundation, McMaster students apply this knowledge through their facilitation of Fountains of Uke visits in the Hamilton community. This experiential learning opportunity not only allows them to bridge theory and practice with respect to 3MU3 course content, but also allows them to develop valuable facilitation skills that are highly transferable across disciplines and educational contexts. Specifically, McMaster students use music to create meaningful moments between 20-30 elementary students and LTC residents.


Elementary School Teachers

The benefits for the elementary school teachers are three-fold. First, Fountains of Uke provides music engagement opportunities that align with the elementary music curriculum, which allows teachers to build lesson plans around the program. Second, since Fountains of Uke improves classroom-related behaviours in the elementary students, teachers will be able to run classes more smoothly due to their students being more engaged. Finally, Fountains of Uke forms relationships between elementary schools and LTC homes, thereby providing elementary teachers with an additional resource they can use for subsequent educational activities.


Program Structure

Fountains of Uke is currently supported and endorsed by the HWDSB, as well as the Department of Music and Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster University.



Week 1

(2 visits)

LTC Residents Elementary Students
  • McMaster student performances
    • Small group discussions to build rapport and trust
  • Interactive participation with percussion instruments
    • Icebreakers to build rapport and trust
  • “Sensitivity to Seniors” activity
Week 2

(1 visit)

LTC Residents and Elementary Students (combined)
    • Elementary students walk to LTC home with teacher and McMaster students
    • Elementary students perform for LTC residents
  • “Person bingo” activity
Week 3

(2 visits)

LTC Residents Elementary Students
    • McMaster student performances
    • Interactive activity with percussion instruments
  • Sing to Workshop 4 song
    • Individual skill development during McMaster student-run music lesson
  • Practice new & familiar songs
Week 4(1 visit) LTC Residents and Elementary Students (combined)
    • Elementary students walk to retirement home
    • Elementary students perform for retirement home residents
  • Students and seniors work in small groups to learn Workshop 4 song