Community Music Conservatory

Learn about Music

Group Classes. Private Music Lessons. Early Childhood Music. Community Outreach.
The Community Music Conservatory, located at the Reilly Arts Center, features multiple teaching studios, professional staff and faculty, and performance spaces that include the 700-seat mainstage auditorium and NOMA Black Box. Conservatory programming includes group classes and private instruction designed for students of all ages, backgrounds, and skill levels. The Conservatory, which launched programming in Spring 2022, is managed by the team at the Ocala Symphony Orchestra and is committed to fostering an environment of creativity, life-long learning, and quality instruction.


A Commitment to Access

Central to our mission is our scholarship program and community outreach initiatives. We are proud to work with local business and individuals to provide scholarships for those with a desire to learn. To receive a scholarship application or learn how to help create access for others contact Margaret Dixon, Director of Education and Community Outreach,

Give the Gift of Music – Become a program sponsor or donor

Supporters of the Community Music Conservatory create a solid foundation for several programs that will become an established part of the musical community of Ocala. By investing in the availability and quality of music education, as well as the fundamentals of music and music appreciation, we can and will inspire more Ocala residents to take part in the arts, and provide more opportunities for marginalized and/or underserved groups to participate in the arts. Learn about more ways to give here.

A Space Designed for Music and Creativity

The Conservatory was a mission-critical component of the Reilly Arts Center’s 15,500 sq. ft. expansion project which opened in January 2022 and more than doubled the venue’s original footprint and programming. Teaching studios, located in the education wing, are equipped for group and individual instruction. The Reilly also features a 700-seat auditorium, Black Box Theatre, and an open-air amphitheater perfect for outdoor performances and instruction. The Reilly is located in Tuscawilla Park, in the heart of downtown Ocala. In the park you will also find a state of the art playground, duck pond, and sculpture park uniquely designed around a beautiful walking path. We are neighbors with the Ocala Skate Park and the City of Ocala’s Discovery Science Center – both walking distance from the Conservatory.

Instrument Rental or Purchase

Meet the Staff

Matthew Wardell, DMA

Matthew Wardell, DMA

Artistic Advisor

MATTHEW WARDELL (b. 1983)  is a conductor and teacher known for his quick wit, endearing presence in both pops and classical settings, and his incredible ability to bring joy and presence to any audience. His professional career as Music Director and Conductor of the Ocala Symphony Orchestra began in 2009. When Matthew was appointed Music Director of the Ocala Symphony Orchestra the Ocala Star Banner declared that, “Wardell brings an impressive resume of musical and conducting training … Maybe more important than his musical credentials is Wardell’s youthful enthusiasm and unabashed zest … Wardell is not only a daring and dynamic choice as the Ocala Symphony Orchestra’s new conductor, but a smart one.” On the stage, he has publicly performed nearly 400 works in over 250 live performances including core orchestral works from all periods, concerti for voice and nearly every instrument, extensive pops offerings, film and multi-media works, and the purposeful inclusion of underrepresented composers and pieces. From the pit, Maestro Wardell has led 16 staged productions of large-scale opera, musical theatre, and ballet works including La Boheme, Bartok’s Miraculous Mandarin, Cosi fan tutte, Sunday in the Park with George, Carmina Burana, A Little Night Music, and Sweeney Todd. Matthew once conducted 2 performances of Puccini’s Tosca with only one day’s notice. The performances were hailed as “first-rate” and “inspiring.” His ability to step in at the last moment was described as a “magnificent feat … when the stakes were high, Mr. Wardell came through brilliantly and proved his mettle.”

In addition to his success on the podium and in the orchestra pit, Matthew has been responsible for more than $7 million in private fundraising, over $3 million in grant acquisitions from the local to national level, and the creation and successive expansion of the Reilly Arts Center, a 30,000 square foot Ocala, FL performing arts facility that houses a 700-seat mainstage theatre, the NOMA black box, and the Ocala Symphony Community Music Conservatory.

Born in Jacksonville, Florida, Wardell received his Bachelor of Music cum laude (2007) at the University of North Florida working under Charlotte Mabrey. Wardell continued his education by earning Masters of Music (2010) and Doctor of Musical Arts (2022) degrees at the University of Florida under his mentor, Dr. Raymond Chobaz. Matthew spent five summers at the Pierre Monteux School for Conductors and Orchestra Musicians in Hancock, Maine studying with renowned conducting teacher Michael Jinbo. Wardell has been fortunate to have been recognized as both an Osher and Quimby Family Foundation scholar. He is very proud to be part of the school’s long heritage of forming clear and dutiful conductors and considers Hancock a second home. In addition, Matthew has attended and participated in master classes with Keith Lockhart of the Boston Pops and BBC Orchestra, Thomas Cockrell of the University of Arizona, and studied with conductor and composer Peter WesenAuer in Salzburg, Austria.

Matthew is a champion of all kinds of orchestral music. He enjoys programming and conducting core repertoire arm and arm with pops and new music believing that good music is just that – good music. He is a member of the College Orchestra Directors Association and the American Symphony Orchestra League. He serves or has served on the boards of the Arts in Health Ocala / Marion, the Ocala Municipal Arts Commission (OMAC), and Young Professionals of Ocala (YPO). In addition to his musical pursuits, Wardell is passionate about being involved in the communities he makes music in. In 2015 was elected to Ocala’s City Council – a position he proudly held for 6 years. Wardell currently serves as the Interim Director of Orchestral Activities at Mount Holyoke College. He enjoys traveling, the good company of friends, and attending Jacksonville Jaguars’ games. Matthew and his wife, Pamela Calero, have one dog, Buckley, who is probably up to no good at this very moment.

Margaret Dixon

Margaret Dixon

Director of Education and Community Outreach

Margaret Dixon began her relationship with the Ocala Symphony Orchestra in 2010 as a hornist on stage, but she quickly took on additional roles with the ensemble. In 2016, Margaret assumed leadership of the orchestra’s Symphony for Schools Program, helping it grow to reach over thirty Marion County Schools. In 2019, her duties expanded to include the positions of Librarian and Personnel Manager of the Orchestra, and in 2021 she was appointed Director of Education and Community Outreach for the Reilly Arts Center.

Margaret has a great passion for teaching and spreading the joy of music, especially to youth and underserved communities, and having her own music school has been a dream of hers for the last decade. Music is such a natural and human form of expression, and it opens the door to such a wealth of opportunities. From traveling the world performing to singing holiday tunes with your family, the possibilities and reach of music are endless and should be available for everyone. Margaret’s philosophy is that anyone can learn music, regardless of age, experience, background, socio-economic status, or physical or mental ability. You dont have to be great to enjoy making music, you only have to be willing to try. Music creates deeper personal connections, encourages community, builds confidence, inspires creativity, and even has mental and physical health benefits.

Margaret is still an active performer and music educator. She holds the Principal Horn position in The Gainesville Orchestra, the Second Horn position in the Ocala Symphony Orchestra, and she is a well-known and regularly requested performer throughout North-Central Florida. She has also performed with Orchestras in the surrounding states, recorded with Carl Fischer and the Trade Winds Ensemble, and has played in numerous performances around the world.

Margaret has a successful private studio of students of varying abilities and age ranges, and she currently holds the position of Adjunct Professor of Horn for the College of Central Florida. She provides group coaching at several local middle and high schools, and she has worked extensively with local collegiate institutions, including Santa Fe College, College of Central Florida, and the University of Florida. Margaret’s younger students are typically the top performers in their county and in the state, many have received college scholarships and have gone on to pursue successful careers in music performance and education. Her adult students are all active players in their respective communities, and they always have a great time!

Margaret’s business experience includes several years managing the former music school and retail store Great Southern Music. It was in this position that Margaret honed her leadership, organization, and communication skills, and learned first hand the pitfalls of the typical music school.

Margaret has had the privilege of studying with some of the finest horn players in the country, including renowned teachers and performers Lowell Greer, Michelle Stebleton, Michelle Baker, Joseph Anderer, and Robert Watt. Margaret holds a Bachelor’s in Music from the University of Alabama where she studied with Professor Charles “Skip” Snead, and a Master’s Degree in Music from the University of Florida where she studied with Dr. Paul Basler.

Jack Covell

Jack Covell


Jack Covell is a seasoned performer and educator with over 50 years of musical experience, in a variety of backgrounds.

As an educator, Jack has been professionally teaching since 1970. His educational experience includes public school, private school, collegiate level instruction, and private instruction. He has also served as a clinician to several educational institutions throughout Florida, a musical theater director, and an ensemble director for community programs!

As a Performer, Jack is multi-faceted! His guitar background includes experience in Jazz, Rock, classical, and bluegrass music, and he is also experienced in Bass and Mandolin. Outside of his string playing, Jack is also proficient in Woodwind Instruments, including Flute, Saxophone, and Clarinet!

Jack holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education, a Master’s degree in Gifted Education, and is a member of the Florida Bandmaster’s Association.

Rick Hajduk

Rick Hajduk


RICK HAJDUK has had a multi-decade career as a performing musician, arranger, private instructor/ tutor, and audio recording/ F.O.H. sound engineer. Beginning at the age of seven learning to play woodwind instruments, Rick found his passion when he added the trumpet to his musical training. Since that time, his life has been interconnected with a deep commitment to music. Rick’s professional performances include Big Bands: beginning with The Woody Herman Band and continuing through the years with notable others among those being The Tommy Wills Orchestra, Eddie Howard, and The Indianapolis Jazz Orchestra. Notable performance events include the Super Bowl, Kentucky Derby Governor’s Ball, the Indianapolis Jazz Festival, The Jazz Kitchen, and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

In addition, Rick had the staff lead trumpet position at Beef and Boards Theater in Indianapolis , while at the same time, running his own group, The Funk Quarter, which was a jazz funk improvisational collective of premier Indianapolis sidemen. He was an arranger and trumpet player for Latin groups Orquesta Bravo and Grupo Tumbao, which performed educational concerts along with the Summer Music Festival at Fountain Square in Cincinnati, Ohio. As an instructor, Rick tutored trumpet students in the Zionsville, Indiana schools for eleven years working with students from fifth through twelfth grade, along with many individual private students. He earned his Master of Arts in Music Degree at Ball State University and A Bachelor Degree in Music Education from Berklee College of Music. Rick studied with well renowned instructors including: William Adam and Dominic Spera (Indiana University), Marvin Perry (Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra), Paul Everett (Muncie Indiana Symphony), Larry MacWilliams (Jazz Studies at Ball State University), John Coffey (Boston Symphony) and Ray Kotwica (Trumpet with Schubert Theater, Boston) Upon relocating to Ocala, Rick is continuing his pursuit of bringing music and trumpet playing to students of all ages so that they, too, are able to pursue their own passions for music in their lives.

Sharilynn Horhota

Sharilynn Horhota


Mrs. Sharilynn Horhota currently serves as the General Music Instructor at Victory Academy and has maintained a private flute studio for over 30 years. She has worked with students in Marion County middle and high schools as a woodwind clinician.

She earned her Associates in Music from Grand Rapids Junior College and studied with Darlene Dugan, nationally recognized for flute choir conducting. Mrs. Horhota earned her Bachelors in Flute Performance from Hartt School of Music, where she studied with John Wion, principal flute of the New York City Opera. She held the position of principal flute in the Hartt Wind Ensemble and the Hartt Repertory Orchestra. Mrs. Horhota participated in summer masterclasses with Julius Baker, principal flute of the New York Philharmonic, and received additional lessons from Brad Garner, former professor of flute at Julliard and The Cincinnati Conservatory. Following her graduation, she pursued further studies at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland, where she played in the Sibelius Academy Orchestra and the Academy Repertory Orchestra. Her studies at the Sibelius Academy were under the guidance of Liisa Ruoho, an international flute soloist and pioneer instructor utilizing Alexander Technique in flute pedagogy.

Mrs. Horhota’s performance experience includes engagements with the Norwalk Symphony, Greenville Symphony, Bridgeport Cabaret Theater, First Baptist Church Orchestra, Florida Philharmonic Symphony, Ocala Civic Theater, Nature Coast Community Band, Kingdom of the Sun Concert Band, Wings of Faith Holiday Ensemble, and the Blessed Trinity Church Psalt Ensemble. She possesses a particular affinity for both Latin music and jazz, having performed with Tuna (Latin Ensemble), Groupo Fusion, and a Latin trio. Additionally, Mrs. Horhota has showcased her talents with the Silver Band (jazz big band).

Mrs. Horhota is enthusiastic about commencing her collaboration with the Community Music Conservatory, where she aims to offer a distinctive learning experience that combines proven techniques from elementary education, insights from nationally recognized performers and teachers, past performance experiences in various music genres, and her self-developed methods. She eagerly looks forward to working with students ranging from children to adults.

Aaron Janosa

Aaron Janosa

Clarinet & Saxophone

Mr. Aaron Janosa is the Director of Music at North Marion High School, and oversees all aspects of the music department. He directs the “Colt Stampede” Marching Band, Concert Band, and Jazz Band.

Mr. Janosa received his Bachelor of Music in Music Education and Certificate of Music Performance from the University of Florida. He actively performed in the UF Wind Symphony and Clarinet Choir, among other ensembles, playing under the baton of such conductors as Dr. David Waybright, Thomas Leslie, Christian Schulz, and Harvey Hermann. He recorded two albums on the Mark Custom label, one as basset horn soloist on Christmas Clarinets, and one as rotating principal on Masks and Machines. He studied clarinet under Mitchell Estrin, and has participated in masterclasses with artists Stephen Williamson and Julian Bliss.

Mr. Janosa’s professional affiliations include National Association for Music Education, Florida Music Education Association, Florida Bandmasters Association, and the International Clarinet Association.

Meagan Miles

Meagan Miles

Piano, Guitar & Ukulele

Ms. Miles has always had an enormous love and passion for music. She studied music theory, sight singing, ear training, music literacy, composition and performance in College. Her love of performing started at age 15 when she performed in New York City in Eric Whitacre’s production “Paradise Lost: Shadows and Wings”. From there she performed in cities around America such as New Orleans, Atlanta, Tampa and Disney World in Orlando. She has also played in marching band, wind symphony, jazz band and drum corps.

Performance was her main passion until she was given the opportunity to teach private lessons in College. This job changed her heart from wanting to perform, to instead desiring to teach and inspire children with music. She has taught Middle School and High School Choir at Ambleside School of Ocala for 5 years and has taught privately for 8 years.

Ms. Miles offers lessons in piano, voice, clarinet and saxophone.

Forrest Andre

Forrest Andre

Administrative Coordinator, CMC

Kathryn Poore

Kathryn Poore

Viola/Violin and OSO Librarian

Kathryn Poore has been teaching private violin and viola lessons since 1998, and has been playing viola in professional orchestras since graduating high school in 2001 as a core member and sub. She is currently the Principal Violist of the Ocala Symphony Orchestra. She has a Master of Music in Viola Performance from the University of Georgia, and a Bachelor of Music Performance, magna cum laude, from Columbus State University. Kathryn has also attended the prestigious Aspen Music Festival and School, 2003. As an instructor, Kathryn teaches each student as an individual. Everyone learns differently, and Kathryn really enjoys structuring lessons to best meet the needs of the individual. In addition to The Music Den, Kathryn also teaches lessons at Stetson University’s Community School of Music.

Laurie Rangel

Laurie Rangel


Laurie Rangel has had a love of music since she was a young child. She has played piano and organ since the age of 7 and participated in band programs throughout middle and high school. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Music – Piano Performance, with a minor in education, from St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She later attended Shenandoah Conservatory in Virginia and completed Masters’ level courses in Music Education. She also holds a Masters’ degree in Supervision and Administration from University of Phoenix.

Laurie has been an elementary music teacher in public schools for the last 18 years here in Marion County. Previously, she taught middle school chorus in public school in Maryland. In addition, she has taught private piano lessons for over 30 years and is the Organist and Choir Director at Silver Springs Shores Presbyterian Church.

Ms. Rangel is married and has 2 grown children. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, watching movies, and attending music performances of all kinds. She enjoys teaching music to all ages and has worked with students from ages 5-80+ throughout her musical career. Her belief is that anyone can learn to make music and hopes to instill a lifelong love and appreciation for music with her students.

Cody Ray

Cody Ray

Low Brass: Trombone, Baritone, Euphonium, and Tuba

Cody Ray attended Fort Clarke MS and Buchholtz HS before earning degrees in instrumental performance and music theory/composition from the University of Florida. In the past he has performed with the Coastal Symphony of Georgia among others, and is currently in his 15th season as Principal Tuba of the Gainesville Pops! Wind Symphony, as well as founder of the Tree City Brass. Mr. Ray serves the Gainesville community as a low brass specialist in Alachua County schools while offering private lessons for beginning to advanced brass instruments, bass guitar, beginning guitar, preschool to elementary piano and is pleased to bring his unique and energetic style of teaching to Ocala’s Community Music Conservatory.

Jimmy Sexton

Jimmy Sexton


Mr. Jimmy Sexton, born in Avon Park, Florida, began his music career at an early age. He participated in middle and high school band, receiving multiple superiors at the state level. He also spent time training with Drum and Bugle Corp.

He earned his associate’s degree from the College of Central Florida and then transferred to the University of Florida to study music education. He served as a member of the Florida Drum Line. He studied under the direction of Dr. Kenneth Broadway, Dr. Jay Watkins, and Dr. Chip Birkner. During his time there, he performed various recitals as well as performances with the UF University Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Sexton has spent time over the past ten years as a Drum Technician for Forest and Vanguard High Schools, as well as Howard and Grace Middle Schools. He actively plays in the Kingdom of the Sun Concert Band in Marion County. Mr. Sexton has experience offering percussion lessons to primary, middle, and high school students. He previously offered private lessons through the First Baptist Church School of Music and Grace Christian School.

When Mr. Sexton is not offering lessons, playing for the worship band at church, or participating in other various musical endeavors, he enjoy spending time with his wife and three children.

Emily Smith

Emily Smith


A recent arrival in Gainesville, cellist Emily Austin Smith maintains an active performing and teaching career. She completed bachelors degrees in Cello Performance and English and a Masters Degree in Cello Performance and Pedagogy at the Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, where she studied with Alan Stepansky, former Associate Principal Cellist of the New York Philharmonic. Emily has recently performed with the Fayetteville Symphony and the Duke New Music Ensemble, and as a substitute with the North Carolina Symphony and Carolina Ballet. She served as both cellist and Executive Director of WireTap New Music, a group she co-founded in Durham, North Carolina.

Emily has performed in a number of orchestral and chamber music festivals across the country, including Spoleto Festival USA, Weekend of Chamber Music, Texas Music Festival, Bowdoin International Music Festival, ENCORE School for Strings, and the Indiana University Summer String Academy. She has worked with members of the Takacs, Emerson, Cavani, Lark, Shanghai, Juilliard, and Jupiter Quartets, and has studied with Alison Wells, Amir Eldan, Brinton Averil Smith, and Eric Kim, and participated in masterclasses with Richard Aaron, Susan Moses, Gary Hoffman, and Jeffrey Solow. During her time at the Peabody Institute and The Johns Hopkins University, Emily was the recipient of the B&O Women’s Club Award in Performance and a member of the Phi Beta Kappa society.

Emily has taught students of all ages and levels in a variety of settings, and has received Suzuki teacher training from esteemed pedagogues Dr. Tanya Carey and Ronda Cole. She completed her Master of Music degree in Cello Performance and Pedagogy at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, where she was mentored by Bai-Chi Chen of the Peabody Preparatory Institute. While in Baltimore, Emily taught in the orchestral program at the Baltimore School for the Arts and was a regular substitute teacher at OrchKids, the Baltimore Symphony’s El Sistema inspired after-school orchestra program. Emily also served as an administrator at Kidznotes, an El Sistema inspired program in the Triangle region of North Carolina.

When she is not performing, teaching, or practicing cello, Emily enjoys cooking, reading, and spending time outdoors with her husband and scruffy shelter dog, Lily.

Anne Suefert

Anne Suefert


Anne Seufert has had a lifelong passion for music that she wishes to ignite within the children of her community. From her earliest memories, growing up in the Miami, Florida area, music has filled every facet of her life. She learned to play guitar and to sing at her mother’s knee, which formed a treasured bond throughout their years together. Miss Anne joined the junior high band playing the flute starting in seventh grade and transitioned to marching band in high school. She continued with the flute in a Woodwind Ensemble in college while studying Music Ed. While there she also joined the college choir with her mother and her brother which was a tremendous family bonding experience. Miss Anne continues to pursue music for her own enjoyment and loves to play guitar and sing for people in venues around Ocala and for her fellow mothers of twins, in the state organization, in the role of chaplain.

Anne has been working in Early Childhood Education, at Maplewood Elementary School, since 1994. After almost 20 years, she decided to take her affinity for working with young children and her passion for music and combine the two into one joyful venture. She also wanted families to have the opportunity to form their own special bonds over music, understanding how intrinsic the love of music is in babies and young children. So, in 2013, she became a certified Kindermusik Educator and started her own business as Kindermusik with Miss Anne, serving many families over the years. She also continues to work at Maplewood in her current position in the music department.

The Kindermusik philosophies were quickly embraced by Miss Anne. Their approach to teaching the whole child made perfect sense. There is such excitement in watching the benefits of Kindermusik come to fruition through the noticeable growth of the children in the program. As stated on Kindermusik International’s website, “Combining read-aloud, singing, dancing, and tapping the imagination at every juncture is multi-sensory learning at its best! Kindermusik’s curricula stimulate multiple areas of the brain at once, heightening age-appropriate development in every lesson.”

Hannah Whitston

Hannah Whitston

Junior Music Makers

Hannah is a music educator at Madison Street Academy. She serves as Vice President of the Marion County Music Association, FMEA (Florida Music Education Association) member and a board member of FAFO. Hannah also directs several after-school music ensembles and produces performances with her student groups. Hannah has worked as a mentor at Madison Street and has also worked with local high school marching band programs.

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