Singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan performs in Vancouver Wednesday during a presentation for MusiCan, which has donated money for instruments and music to the school. ((Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press))

Canadian singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan performed to an audience of Vancouver schoolchildren on Wednesday in support of a group that supports music education.

She sang three songs, including the hits Building a Mystery and In the Arms of an Angel, at Vancouver's Gladstone Secondary School.

The school is one of seven Lower Mainland schools that got $10,000 through MusiCan, a program of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, to buy instruments.

"I get so much joy out of making music — I think we all feel that way — and it's such a shame that arts programs are so often the first to go," she told the students, some of whom were visiting from other participating schools.

The Gladstone school jazz band and a group of students from Daniel Woodward elementary school performed on stage with McLachlan.

Musical instruments are expensive — the jazz band has bought a saxophone and a tuba with its grant, using up most of the $10,000, students told CBC News.

MusiCan has donated $2.3 million in grants for instruments and materials for elementary and secondary school programs since 1997. This is its first special event in the Vancouver area.

In addition to working with MusiCan, McLachlan also runs a separate charity to bring music to inner city schools, the Sarah McLachlan Music Outreach program.

"I was never in school band," she told the students. "I had an amazing opportunity to take up private lessons, so that's what I ended up doing."

Hearing a star like McLachlan "definitely encourages you, because it makes you think that she's been practicing a lot," one young fan told CBC News.