A Message From Sarah

With the new year well underway, I hope that you and yours have been staying safe, happy and healthy!

Although last year was full of many uncertainties, our families, teachers, donors and staff have really pulled together. With the support of our wonderful community, we were able to adapt our program to keep our students connected and the music playing.

Our students, teachers and staff have been buoyed by our many successes last year, including the overwhelming response to our first-ever online Christmas Concert, which was attended by upwards of 400 people. Joyfully, this number surpassed even that of those who normally join us in person!

Once more, I’d like to express my deep appreciation for your support during these extraordinary times. Thank you for continuing to spread joy, beauty and inspiration through music—you’re making such a profound difference for children and families in and around the Downtown Eastside community.

On behalf of Saint James Music Academy,




Sarah Godoy

Sarah Godoy

Executive Director

Finding Magic and Meaning

In a Musical Life

When I first heard about SJMA, I felt like I was too old to learn a new instrument.

Needless to say, I was wrong.

I’ll never forget my first viola lesson. It felt surreal that I would have a chance to touch an actual string instrument. Every time I went to practice on it, I thought it might shatter into a million pieces.

However, through my years in the program, I learned not only how to care for and play my instrument, but also the sound and harmony that comes from music… It is truly a magical thing.

Ever since falling in love with the sound of the viola, its deep mellow sound always reminds me of dark chocolate. And every time I play a note, it feels as if the world of music keeps expanding.

Through all of the ups and downs in my life—from various moves and coming to a new country, to navigating college applications during COVID-19—music has brought me to life.

Whether that was playing the viola and piano, or listening to Shostakovich and Grieg, music became the shoulder of a friend I could always lean on. The unspoken words of affirmation.


All this because SJMA said, ‘Why not you? Why not music?’

— Yumai


So, thank you. Thank you for investing in my future musically, for showing me that you believe in me, and now as I take a step towards a new stage in life, by offering me a scholarship.

While I can’t say with certainty because of certain global situations, I hope to remain a part of the music community, perhaps on campus or in my church orchestra. I still love to play pieces like Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No.3 with my siblings, as well as Beethoven’s 5th Symphony—and dream of the day I can play it with a full orchestra.

In the future, I would even love to organize my own musical gatherings where we host sight-reading parties and little concerts. Whatever it may be, I know that I will continue to embrace music throughout my life.

To live musically, that is one of my dreams.

I also hope I can continue to spread the love of music and inspire people around me through it. To the teachers, staff and supporters of SJMA, thank you for the gift of music. I will cherish it always.

Sincerely yours,
Yumai Bishop

Help kids like Yumai pursue a musical life by giving online today!

The Show Must Go On!

Adapting to Life With COVID-19

Saint James Music Academy has now fully adapted to life with COVID-19. We are currently operating on site and online five days per week! We continue to update our protocols and implement developments as we find new ways of optimizing how we deliver our program.

Throughout 2020, SJMA staff have worked passionately to develop a quality music program that could be delivered responsibly through COVID-19 and help our students to know that they are an important part of something beautiful that is bigger than themselves.

A big priority has also been making sure that SJMA is a fun and happy place to be!

To ensure physical distancing, half of our program takes place online and we have spread our core on-site program across the days of the week. So, our hallways are quieter now, as compared to the noisy bustle of the old SJMA, but friendships endure and are growing every day!

Our operations staff begin each day by coming in two hours before the start of our program to sanitize all our spaces. Students who require transportation are still met by our “Walking School Bus” or picked up by the SJMA van. And as always, every student is warmly welcomed with a healthy and delicious meal and the chance to connect with their friends before they head off to music classes!

As the pandemic continues, it’s our goal to be as responsive as possible to the needs of our students and families, and to keep the music – and magic – happening for the children, no matter what!

Thank You Jane!

Celebrating Our Incredible Family of Donors

A long time philanthropist in our city and as down-to-earth as a person could be, Jane has given SJMA its largest gift ever: $100,000 annually for the next ten years! Jane’s extraordinary generosity will contribute to SJMA’s sustainability for many years to come and provides a great foundation to our annual fundraising needs.

In the year of COVID-19, our amazing supporters have stepped up and reached out when we least expected it. You are too many to name here, but please know that like Jane, you make it all possible. You are vital, you are generous, and you are the best family anyone could ever ask for!

Paul Myers, SJMA Director of Development


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