“Is there an instrument that can be used to foster music literacy in classroom settings that is fun to play, inexpensive, portable, and suited to any style of music?”

J. Chalmers Doane and James Hill on stage at the International Ukulele Ceilidh in Nova Scotia (2008).

J. Chalmers Doane and James Hill on stage at the International Ukulele Ceilidh in Nova Scotia (2008).

This was the question that faced a young J. Chalmers Doane in 1967. Doane, then newly-appointed Director of Music Education in Halifax, Nova Scotia, found his answer in that chronically underestimated instrument of Hawaiian fame and European ancestry, the ukulele. The Canadian school ukulele program was born and the rest, as they say, is history.

Fast-forward forty years. Canadian virtuoso James Hill – a student of the Doane ukulele program – emerges as one of the world’s foremost masters of the instrument, his dynamic approach to the ukulele inspiring ukulele enthusiasts, professional musicians, music educators, ukulele teachers, and a host of others to take a serious look at a fun instrument.

Passionate about sharing the gift of music with a new generation of students, James envisions a method that builds on the foundation laid by the Doane ukulele program, that is “fun from day one” and that opens doors for students wishing to pursue music further. Naturally, he seeks the benefit of Chalmers’ experience and together they begin to develop Ukulele in the Classroom, a new and exciting resource for music teachers everywhere.

The result is a sequential, performance-based ukulele method through which students explore elements of music including melody, harmony, rhythm, form, tempo, dynamics, and tone. Areas of skill include singing, picking, strumming, ear training, sight-reading, improvising, music theory, harmonizing, arranging, and more. In many ways the Ukulele in the Classroom series melds the lessons of the past with a vision for the future, infusing the wisdom of elders with the creative energy of youth.

James and Chalmers share not only a love of the ukulele and of teaching, but also a passion for developing and supporting music literacy in schools and other learning environments; they warmly invite you to join them in their new approach to Ukulele in the Classroom.

It’s fun. It works. It’s music literacy, the ukulele way!

“It makes no difference what instrument you choose – recorder, trumpet, piano, bass, guitar, mandolin; none can compare with the ukulele as a means of music education in our schools.”
— J. Chalmers Doane, Teacher's Guide to Classroom Ukulele (1977)