Team Uketropolis 

Team Uketropolis

Meet our team! These amazing people are helping to spread the joy of ukulele from Toronto to Timbuktu.

Angela Dwyer

Angela Dwyer

JHUI Director / Logistics

Spending part of her childhood in Newfoundland, music played a big part in Angela’s life. She loved participating in choir, playing the clarinet in the school band, taking piano lessons and also discovered the joys of the ukulele through her involvement in the Chalmers Doane Ukulele program. Her career pursuits took her away from playing music regularly but happily she re-discovered her ukulele and fell in love all over again!

A Level 3 JHUI teacher and a Masters student (still working on that thesis!), Angela is currently Director of the Marigold Ukulele Players as well as a teacher with the Doane Uschool in Truro, Nova Scotia. She also is the Coordinator of the Marigold Ukulele Festival held every two years in Truro. She performs in her community with various ensembles taking her turn on ukulele, double bass and piano. She also sings in her local community choir as well as 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.

One of the reasons Angela loves to teach is because of the effect music has on people’s lives. “I particularly love the ukulele! I have witnessed the ukulele not only as an educational tool, but as a vehicle for building social groups, a companion through serious illness, a team builder for a staff group, and as an antidote for lonely seniors. My students range in age from 5 to 95 years and no matter what the age, learning the ukulele is the beginning of a wondrous journey!”

Cynthia Kinnunen

Cynthia Kinnunen

Director of Engagement

In her earlier years, Cynthia pursued studies in piano, completing her conservatory levels and a university degree in music. After some years away, it was the mighty ukulele that brought her back to music-making and inspired her to pursue music education again.

A Level 3 James Hill Ukulele Initiative teacher, Cynthia currently wears many teaching hats, including providing private music instruction in ukulele and piano; ukulele group classes and workshops; the Royal City Ukulele Ensemble adult learning program; is a sessional lecturer at the University of Guelph; and Director of Engagement for Ukulele in the Classroom. She is also the founder and director of the Royal City Uke Fest in Guelph, Ontario.

Cynthia has always felt compelled to share music, whether teaching, performing or just making good old mixtapes. Influences have ranged from early 20th century big band to 80s one-hit wonders, baroque chamber works to the rhythms of world music, renaissance folk songs to 70s punk. Cynthia truly loves the diversity of music. She is also a solo performer and half of the bass/ukulele duo Transit Lounge. Passionate about the role that music can play in our lives, our homes and our communities, she encourages everyone to learn and make music, no matter their age or ability. www.cynthiakmusic.com

Chantal LeBlanc

Chantal LeBlanc

Social Media Coordinator

From an early age Chantal has felt passionate about music and believes in its capacity to nurture the full development of all children. As a parent of young music students and an adult learner she discovered that all human beings, no matter how young or old, have the potential to learn and enjoy making music. Chantal studied piano as a child and into her teens and then classical guitar as an adult student before discovering the ukulele.

After meeting James Hill at a school workshop in 2010, Chantal proceeded to complete all 3 levels of the James Hill Ukulele Initiative’s Teacher Certification Program and taught using the Ukulele in the Classroom method in several schools in the OCDSB’s Extra-Curricular Creative Arts program as well as in their General Interest evening program. In the summer of 2014, she was invited to serve as an instructor at the JHUI Teacher Certification institute in Toronto. She also taught the ukulele as an enrichment program to Suzuki music students and parents at The National Capital Suzuki School of Music.

Since relocating to Toronto in the summer of 2016, Chantal has mainly served as the social media coordinator for the James Hill Music team as well as for the Toronto Ukulele Orchestra, under the direction of Eve Goldberg. She continues to enjoy learning, arranging and playing all styles of music on the ukulele.

Chantal est Franco-ontarienne et peut ainsi offrir services et instruction en français.

Zsolt Schäfer

Zsolt Schäfer

Web Administration and Customer Support

Zsolt grew up in a small town in Hungary. He and his sister owned two LPs of great kids’ music, but otherwise had to settle for their Dad’s classical rock collection (ultimately, classical rock contributed to discovering the ukulele — in the form of a Queen cover song). They also had a decade of exposure to the Kodály-method used by public schools throughout Hungary. After a short harmonica career and an ever shorter stint in a 17th-century drum corps he started to learn ukulele. Zsolt is very fond of old-time American music and clawhammer-style playing.

Zsolt is a Level 2 JHUI-certified Teacher. He also runs one of the few ukulele clubs in Hungary, is co-author of the Hungarian ukulele magazine ukulele.hu and author of Ukulele Funbook.