Performers & Instructors

James Hill
Doane Hill Method Founder & Advisor

James Hill, a third generation Canadian uke player, is an educator, songwriter and "a serious virtuoso upon the ukulele ... truly amazing" (Canadian Folk Music Magazine).  He grew up in Langley, B.C. learning ukulele from classroom teachers Jamie Thomas and Peter Luongo, both former students of J Chalmers Doane.  In 2004, Hill and Doane began meetings in Nova Scotia to discuss pedagogy and to start work on what would eventually become the acclaimed Ukulele in the Classroom method book series.  James serves on the advisory board of Doane Music School while also running the JHUI Teacher Certification Program, the only initiative of its kind in the world.  When he's not travelling the globe performing or training teachers, he is recording critically acclaimed albums and being a YouTube sensation.

Chalmers Doane
J. Chalmers Doane has been a leader in music education for over sixty years, and continues to teach, perform, and compose music.  

In 2005 Chalmers Doane was invested as a member of the Order of Canada.  He was honoured by The Learning Partnership as a champion of public education in 2008, and in 2010 received the Order of Nova Scotia.

Melanie Doane

Juno award winning Melanie Doane has been prominent in the Canadian music landscape for over 15 years.  She has released seven albums, written many chart topping singles ("Adam's Rib". "Goliath", "Still Desire You". etc.), had her music featured on hit TV shows such as Brothers and Sister, Being Erica, Flashpoint and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

In recent years Melanie has followed in her father's footsteps, creating children's music charity Doane Music School.  Based on Chalmers' cutting edge method and pedagogy, Melanie serves over 1000 students on a weekly basis, in Toronto.

 Cynthia Kinnunen
Cynthia Kinnunen is a music educator and community musician based in Guelph, Ontario. She runs several community programs, including the popular Royal City Ukulele Ensemble adult learning program (now in its 10th season), has a private teaching practice (ukulele and piano), and leads a variety of events and workshops. She’s been a teaching-artist at many ‘ukulele festivals over the last decade, including the Ukulele Festival of Scotland, Tropical Winter Ukulele Fest (Finland), Port Townsend Uke Fest, Midwest Uke and Harmonica Camp, and James Hill’s Ukulele Hot Springs, to name a few. She’s also a proud James Hill Ukulele Initiative Teacher Certification alumna and has been a clinician in that program. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Music (Community Music) at Wilfrid Laurier University and is contract part-time faculty there. Her research focus has been on community ensemble learning and participation, musical journeys across the lifespan, and music’s role in well-being.  

Mike Diabo  

Mike Diabo has laid claim to the title of Ukulele Surf King (uke virtuoso was already taken, phew).  A founding member of the instrumental surf trio Urban Surf Kings, Mike has make it his mission to bring surf music to the masses through guitar or ukulele.  Whatever it takes.  He is also a successful solo artist, movie/tv composer, producer and has toured the world with his uke and guitar.  Mike has performed on uke with Matt Mays to over 50 000 people as well as at the Scotiabank Centre several times as a guest of Matt.  Mike was the founder of the Halifax Uke Gang (2008 - 2020).

Bryan LaPlante

Bryan LaPlante currently teaches elementary music with the HRCE school board in beautiful Beaver Bank, Nova Scotia.  He is also a Level 3 instructor with the James Hill Ukulele Initiative (JHUI) and directs "Halifax City Ukulele", a free live and virtual ukulele community of over 800 members.  Bryan has lived, taught and performed in Canada, USA, Mexico, The Dominican Republic and South Korea.  A huge fan of almost all musical genres, Bryan loves to arrange and teach everything from Mozart to Metallica for ukulele.  In his free time, he loves to travel, practice yoga, cook and hit the beach with his lovely partner, Beth!  

Gene Nichols

Gene Nichols has attended nearly every previous Ceilidh with the University of Maine at Machias Ukulele Club, which became defunct when Gene was laid off from the University during COVID.  He has been playing ukulele for more than 55 years, and it is still his primary stringed instrument.  He has also been a circus bandleader, co-founder of an experimental/improvisation troupe, parody writer, composer, hubcaphone builder/player, multi-instrumentalist, choral director, and charter member of Hokum W Jeebs Original Medicine Show.  There is barely enough storage room in his home for his record, music and instrument collections.

Angela Dwyer

Angela discovered the joy of playing the ukulele in school as part of the Chalmers Doane Ukulele program and played in the "A" Group in St. John's, Newfoundland.

Currently, Angela serves as director of the JHUI Teacher Certification Program at Uketropolis with James Hill.  She maintains a private teaching studio, runs a health coaching practice, and also directs the Marigold Ukulele Players in Truro, NS.  She holds a Masters of Arts in Education focusing on Lifelong Learning, and is a certified Health Coach.  Angela strongly believes that music can be an essential part of our wellness toolbox and strives to help people discover their own path to optimal health through music.

She performs in various ensembles taking her turn on ukulele bass and piano.  She also sings with the Symphony Nova Scotia Chorus.  And life has come full circle as she takes a weekly music lesson with Chalmers Doane at his studio in South Maitland.


James Hill and Anne Janelle
Boy Meets Girl, Uke Meets Cello

It's true:  opposites attract.
  James Hill, "possibily the best ukulele player in the world"  (Waikato Times), grew up playing folk, jazz and blues on his ukulele.  Anne Janelle, "a cellist of true beauty"  (Ottawa Citizen), played only classical music on her cello.  But the pair's differences became their greatest asset:  the uke is high, the cello is low; the uke plays short notes, the cello long bow strokes; the uke is all about strumming while the cello radiates melody.

In 2009, James and Anne releaed True Love Don't Weep, an album of duets that garnered a Canadian Folk Music Award for Traditional Album of the Year.  A mixture of traditional tunes with "fresh vitality" (Country Music People) and original songs.  

Since True Love Don't Weep, James and Anne have released two solo albums each (James' Man With a Love Song and The Old Silo;  Anne's Beauty Remains and So Long at the Fair) and toured in over 15 countries, making their mark not only as accomplished instrumentalists but also as some of the finest songwriters of their generation.  Together, they conjure a sound that is intricate, enchanting and engaging:  "a crystal clear sound filled with warmth" (Bob Mersereau, CBC Radio).  In concert, James is "a dazzling performer with a genial, low-key sense of humour" Edmonton Journal) and Anne brings her "gorgeous syrup voice" (Acoustic Magazine) to songs that are "inventive, entertaining, beautifully written and brilliantly performed" (R2 Magazine).

In short, a night out with James Hill & Anne Janelle is "the perfect evening of tunes, stories and musical virtuosity" (Wellington Dominion-Post).

J. Chalmers Doane and special guests

See uke legend J. Chalmers Doane accompanied by his daughter Melanie and son Creighton with some surprise guests you won't want to miss.

Machias Ukulele Club

The Machias Ukulele Club is a pickup group consisting of former member of the University of Maine at Machias Ukulele Club, whose eclectic approach and 1400+ songbook were unique in the genre.  The original Club ran from 2006 - 2020, and played hundreds of gigs of all sorts, from nursing homes to sweaty Mardi Gras-style rock-band dance-athons to nearly every Ukulele Ceilidh to date.  Gene Nichols is/was the leader of this Downeast Maine institution.

Urban Surf Kings

And now for something completely different.  You've never heard the ukulele played to such surly effect.  Urban Surf Kings  transports the diminutive ukulele from its home waters of Tahiti to the beaches of California; turning the once again popular ukulele into a 4-string surf machine.  USK features Andew Beazley on Ukulele Bass, Frank den Haan on percussion, Mike Diabo on lead uke.  The band has performed at the Halifax Jazz Festival, Italy's Surfer Joe Summer Fest, Dock Street Uke Camp and many other places.  

Transit Lounge

With a love of everything from rockabilly to old-timey tunes, pop, folk and some trusty rock & roll for good measure, this ‘ukulele/bass duo will keep you entertained in those in-between moments, easing you into the next leg of your journey.