Community Music School
Feb 15, 2023 7:45 AM
Susan Willats, Executive Director
Community Music School

Susan Willats is both an alum and former staff member of UC Santa Cruz, having worked there for 32 years before retiring in 2018. She served on the board of Community Music School (CMS) for seven years before stepping into the role of Executive Director shortly after her retirement. In addition to her work with CMS, she leads the efforts of Arts Now Santa Cruz County, an organization dedicated to advocating for K-12 arts education in public schools; serves on the board of the Cabrillo Youth Chorus; and sings with Cantiamo!, Cabrillo’s chamber chorus. She has been a resident of Felton for 30 years, and has participated on the SLV Bond Oversight Committee, on the board of the Children’s Center of San Lorenzo Valley, and submitted the winning name of Mountain Community Resources when the Valley Resource Center had a renaming contest back in 2002!

Community Music School of Santa Cruz (CMS) was founded in 1992 by recording artist/music teacher Shelley Phillips. CMS was created as a direct response to the de-funding of public school music programs that began in the 1990s. Our programs were historically designed to fill the need for music education by engaging more students in playing music, expanding the audience for music performance, and providing a continuum of experiences for young musicians throughout their development.

Engaging more students in playing music benefits students, parents, music teachers, and musicians, and also expands the audience for all forms of music performance. To that end, Community Music School has hosted workshops, concerts, and summer camps for musicians age seven and up; maintains a free database of local music teachers, benefiting both teachers and potential students; facilitates a Music Match program, placing donated musical instruments with people or organizations who need them; and publishes a free monthly e-newsletter that lists upcoming concerts and music-related events.