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When Melanie Doane’s children started attending school seven years ago in Toronto, she volunteered to start a ukulele class. (Highwaystarz-Photography/Getty Images/iStockphoto)
When Melanie Doane’s children started attending school seven years ago in Toronto, she volunteered to start a ukulele class. (Highwaystarz-Photography/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

giving back

Volunteer teaching job becomes a Toronto-wide music program Add to ...

The donor: Melanie Doane

The gift: Creating Doane Uschool

The cause: Teaching children music

Melanie Doane was surrounded by music while growing up in Halifax.

Her father, J. Chalmers Doane, developed a pioneering music program featuring the ukulele that became a fixture in Canadian schools. Ms. Doane followed in her father’s footsteps and is now a Juno Award-winning singer, songwriter and musical theatre performer.

When Ms. Doane’s children started attending school seven years ago in Toronto, she volunteered to start a ukulele class. As word spread, Ms. Doane began teaching classes at other schools. She soon created the Doane Uschool, a charity that now provides extracurricular ukulele lessons to more than 650 students across Toronto. The classes run from Grade 4 to Grade 12, and run 30 weeks a year.

“It’s a revamped version of my father’s program,” said Ms. Doane, who also teaches lessons, trains teachers and raises money. The ukulele is the perfect instrument for students, she said, because it’s small, cheap and versatile.

“Part of me is able to relive my childhood by enjoying some of the wonderful things that I was given as a kid,” she added. “And, it’s amazing for me to see children learning with this wonderful program.”

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