Seniors learn tech skills to stay connected during COVID-19

How did Herb Williams, 91, take his passion for music around the world during the pandemic? He revealed his tech secret to Breakfast Television

91-year-old Herb Williams is interviewed by Breakfast Television on Geek Squad support during COVID-19

Amica’s partnership with Best Buy Canada is turning seniors like 91-year-old Herb Williams into sought-after technology experts. In fact, Breakfast Television Toronto reporter Nicole Servinis sat down in a live interview with Herb at Amica Peel Village. She asked the 91-year-old to share how he’d gotten through the coronavirus pandemic thanks, in part, to Geek Squad Agents helping seniors learn new tech skills to stay engaged, informed and connected with friends and family.

Seniors get tech support from experts

Amica’s partnership with Best Buy Canada brings together Geek Squad Agents with Amica residents to facilitate tech workshops for seniors at selected residences. Topics range from using a mobile phone for tasks like texting and online banking to learning how to use tablets, connecting with family on video calls and even following passions on social media. After each technology workshop for seniors before the pandemic, the agents stayed on at the residence to provide one-on-one tech support to residents who had questions or needed help with devices such as printers, computers, laptops, TVs, cell phones and more. During the pandemic, Best Buy Canada switched to offering remote learning and tech support to keep seniors safe and connected from a distance.

A former entertainer, Herb was a regular at the technology workshops to stay busy and keep learning. Before the pandemic, he had been offering music appreciation programs at multiple seniors’ residences, including Amica Erin Mills, Amica Bronte Harbour and to his current neighbours at Amica Peel Village. “Seniors have a great thirst for knowledge,” he says. Herb has kept up with his technology lessons during the pandemic via Best Buy Canada’s online technology workshops offered at Amica.

91-year-old uploads piano videos to Facebook

Herb had asked Geek Squad Agents Chadd and Rachel for help fusing his love of giving back with his passion for music (he plays more than 100 songs on the piano). During this segment of the Breakfast Television interview, he shows how he posted videos of himself playing the piano on his public Facebook page. “Thank goodness for the Geek Squad!” he says during the interview. “They taught me how to trim where I’m walking up to the camera and back to the camera, and how to get it on Facebook. It was a challenge, you know.”

Senior attracts worldwide audience

It was worth the effort: Now people across Canada and around the world are enjoying his piano videos online. A minister in Gambia asked if Herb might record himself playing some hymns. Herb accepted this challenge and was touched to discover that the minister had played the videos for his whole congregation.

As well as improving his Facebook skills, Herb also learned how to transfer the videos to audio format, how to upload images of his paintings of churches and landmarks from around the world and how to post photos of artwork by his wife, Joan. He’s also learning a new language. Since the Geek Squad introduced him to the Duolingo language app, he’s completed 200 days of German lessons.

As Herb learned from his grandfather, “To rest is to rust.” Thanks to the Geek Squad, Herb is staying engaged with his passions and sharing them with others using technology during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

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