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Final Exam

The Tunesmith

Singer Melanie Doane shares how her education took her from the top of the charts to the front of the classroom.

By Laura Bickle
Photo: Courtesy of Melanie Doane

Name: Melanie Doane

Describe your school-aged self.

Sporty and music-y.

What was your favourite subject?

Music was always my favourite class. I had exceptional music teachers from K to Grade 12.

Your most challenging subject?

I was pretty bad at Home Ec (back when we used to call it that). Particularly reading sewing patterns — that was too excruciating for my right and left brain to reconcile the directions with the actions!

Favourite literary pieces studied?

Singing Alex Tilley’s famous composition of “In Flander’s Fields” with my high school choir, and Alex (our music teacher) conducting. That poem and the incredible volume of poetry created by soldiers during WWI came back into my life during my recent stint in the Toronto production of War Horse.

Who are your favourite writers?

I love L. M. Montgomery and I love seeing Maritime life through her eyes. I do think that as much as she has been a highly celebrated figure over here, she is sometimes underestimated in her overall cultural and literary significance.

As a student, what career path did you dream of following?

I had big dreams of performing but my real plan was to become a music teacher. My studies, however, were interrupted when I was cast in my first professional show at the Neptune Theatre in Halifax.

Subject you struggled with?

Definitely reading. My Grade 3 teacher, Mrs. Bower, was somehow able to unlock it all for me and that is something I’ll always be grateful for. From Grade 3 on I was a confident student thanks to her.

What was the last book you read?

Get Out of My Life, but First Could You Drive Me and Cheryl to the Mall? . . . A Parent’s Guide to the New Teenager by Anthony E. Wolf. I have two children, aged 12 and 14.

What are you currently reading?

USchool, Building Your Ukulele Program by Suzanne Doane [her sister].

How did your education shape your role as a music educator?

I grew up at a wonderful time. My dad was the supervisor of music for Halifax School Board and had created an incred-ibly successful city-wide music program. I learned from him, my amazing music teachers, the experience of being in top music groups with my friends, making albums and touring the country while still in school. If I can give my students a taste of how good I had it, I will be happy.