Ubuntu Music Project

Meet our founder and director

Music education paved a way for me to become a first generation college graduate. It is my life’s work and deep passion to empower underserved students.
— Nicole Melki, Founder and Director

The moment Nicole Melki touched the violin at 11 years of age, a ringing sound of hope was produced. Coming from a background of socio-economic hardship and experiencing the struggles of a first generation American, the violin provided Nicole with a way to express herself and hope for a bright future. With this empowerment, Nicole was the first in her family to graduate from college. Nicole’s degrees include a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education from Southern Nazarene University and a Master’s Degree in Social Justice from Southern Methodist University. Upon graduating from SMU summa cum laude, she was the recipient of the B’nai B’rith Award for Scholarly Competence and Personal Commitment to Social Ethics, and the Karis Stahl Fadely award for her intercultural work with Ubuntu Music Project.

Nicole dreamed of starting a strings program for students like herself since the age of 15. Knowing she was called to be an educator, she has dedicated her life to empowering underserved students. Nicole is a very accomplished teacher providing the highest level of instruction. She is an expert at working with students in group and one-on-one settings, and has taught hundreds of students of all ages and backgrounds. Nicole believes that everyone can learn to play an instrument beautifully and proudly, and she is very gifted at teaching students to play at an exceptional level. She has worked with numerous school districts and performed with symphony orchestras across Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Virginia. She also performs as a freelance musician playing diverse musical styles, from bluegrass, to jazz, to hip-hop. She has performed as far away as South Africa, where she studied the principle of Ubuntu and was deeply impacted by her experience of learning directly from the people who live there.

To book Nicole for a meeting, workshop, speaking engagement, or performance, you can email her at: Nicole@UbuntuMusicProject.org


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Sonia Ramirez, director of tutoring

Sonia Ramirez is an outstanding community member, striving to uplift everyone she meets. Born and raised in Dallas, Sonia graduated from El Centro College and earned her Associates of Arts in Urban Education. She has been a community volunteer with DISD for over seven years, serving as a mentor and reading tutor to elementary school students. Through Ubuntu Music Project, Sonia coordinates our after school tutoring program, helping students with their homework and reading. Sonia goes above and beyond in her efforts to ensure that children of all backgrounds and ages feel loved and cared for.

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Annika Donnen, Visiting Artist

Seattle native Annika Donnen is an enthusiastic performer in orchestras, operas, and musical theatre. Summer engagements have included Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre, the Missouri Symphony, and five summers in Graz, Austria as a member of the AIMS in Graz Festival Orchestra. Annika performs frequently with orchestras across Texas, including the Dallas Opera, the Austin Symphony, and the Abilene Philharmonic. She received her Master's degree from the University of North Texas as a student of Dr. Susan Dubois.  

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Miriam Oddie, Visiting Artist

Miriam Oddie grew up playing music from the age of six , and has a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Viola Performance. She is passionate about teaching and performing. Outside of teaching her violin and viola students, Miriam performs with many regional orchestras around Texas, including Abilene Philharmonic and Midland Symphony Orchestra. 

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York Shaw, Visiting Artist

York has been playing the violin since he was 8 years old. He attended the University of Texas and New York University for degrees in violin performance. He performs with the East Texas Symphony, Abilene Philharmonic, and Waco Symphony. Teaching violin is one of his passions, and he is enthusiastic about helping young students realize their potential as young performers and as people who can make a positive impact on the world.

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Arthur Busby, Visiting Artist 

Arthur Busby is a passionate violinist who loves encouraging others to thrive in their musicianship. He has a Bachelor's in Music Performance from SMU, and has performed throughout the United States. Arthur is an avid freelance musician in Dallas who has performed with Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, and played in hundreds of performances of Phantom of the Opera, among many others. He is an enthusiastic teacher and performer, and loves to spread joy through music.