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Director Sarah's Message for 2023

2023 was a blur. So many things happened, both at WSM and in the world, that I’m finding it hard to quantify this year in tangible terms.

2023 was a big year for WSM in general. I say this every year, but WSM welcomed more private & Early Childhood Music students and campers than ever before. Special shout outs go to Liz, our Early Childhood Music teacher, and Mykola, our day camp leader. They walked side by side with me and were instrumental in creating the ECM and camp programs that you experienced this year. 

This fall, WSM’s mission of "Changing the world, one music lesson and practice session at a time” was celebrated with a wonderful new mural, done by an up and coming artist named Sheryl Yee.

Also this fall, thanks to your votes, we won the platinum award from the Toronto Star’s Reader’s Choice Awards (click here to watch my Reel on IG when I found out). It sure gave me a spring in my step when I learned that out of all the music schools in Toronto (and there are A LOT!), WSM is appreciated and valued this much! I am so proud of the community that WSM has become, and so looking forward to seeing what is in store for us.

Rewind to the fall of 2022 when I sat myself down for some careful WSM visioning. I renewed the goal that WSM would give more children the tools to change the world for the better, by offering music lessons, camps and ECM classes. 

A byproduct of those quiet, creative moments alone was that my own personal mission came into focus: making the world a better place, in whatever capacity I am serving in. In 2023, I started to really cultivate this mission, but I can see that I’ve been living this mission for a long time, thanks to my music lessons as a child.

When I was 3 years old, I started asking for violin lessons, and I kept asking until I was 6 years old and my parents gave in. I know that when I started learning to play the violin, I also started practicing the skills necessary to become a better human being. As I learned how to play the violin, I also learned:

  • the process of working hard, failing then succeeding over and over again

  • learning how to play and work with other people in a group⠀

  • how to think critically and uniquely⠀

  • how to look at a problem and figure out how to achieve success⠀

  • that hard work isn't something negative⠀

  • how to create goals and manage failure⠀

  • that if I put my mind to it, success is inevitable for me⠀

  • how to be present in the moment⠀

  • how to take printed notes on a page and breathe life into them⠀

  • to trust myself and the process that I put effort into⠀

As I renew my personal mission of making the world a better place, in whatever capacity I am serving in, all these skills I gained through learning the violin come in hand.

When you want to change the world, you need to:

  • think big picture

  • have empathy towards people who might not think or feel the same as you

  • be kind to people who might not think or feel the same as you

  • listen to and invite those who are not normally part of the conversation to have a voice

  • be present

  • think outside the box and creatively

  • work effectively with other people

And finally, when you are working toward making the world a better place, you will fail, and so you need to be resilient, get back up and try again. Learning the violin taught me that.

So I started Willowdale School of Music, because I believe to the depths of my being that music makes me a better person, so I am responsible to share that with others. I am responsible to give the next generation the tools they need to continue the work of making the world a better place for everyone in it.Children need these skills more than ever right now. The world is filled with division, but deep down, we all just want a place where we can live peaceably and safely with those we love, the way we want to live. Music lessons give children the tools to accomplish this.

WSM’s vision is renewed into 2024: teach children how to make beautiful music that will give them the skills and tools they need to affect change for good in today’s world. Thank you for being part of Willowdale School of Music’s community and for working to change the world for the better, one music lesson and practice session at a time.

Happy New Year,

Sarah Murley-Hauser | Director of Willowdale School of Music


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