Meet the Instructors
At The Music Academy our instructors have the goal of creating a relationship with each student and giving them the lifelong joy of learning through music.
Emily has had a passion for music from a young age. She started taking violin and piano lessons at age 5 and has been playing ever since. She participated in a small orchestra for violin and played in several community events. She has also played both violin and piano for worship at her church. Emily has been teaching private lessons for 2 years and loves getting the opportunity to teach her students the love of music.
Bridget grew up in a home full of musically talented family. She has been playing violin for 9 years, piano for 11, and has been singing her whole life. She regularly performs in community events and competitions in Live Oak and Lake City. She loves children and teaching students to make melodic music. When she’s has free time, she enjoys spending time on her farm or playing sports. Bridget has taught at The Music Academy for two years and loves every moment of it!
Natalie has a passion for music that began at a very young age. She enjoys teaching students of all ages to sing, and play instruments. Natalie has been teaching private music lessons since 2005, teaching hundreds of students the joy of music through singing, playing piano, violin, guitar, cello, ukulele, and more. She has over 6 years of experience working with all types of choirs in North Florida. Most recently, Natalie opened The Music Academy to offer music lessons to eager students. She has a passion for music and loves all aspects of sharing music with the community. Whether instructing, accompanying from the piano, singing, organizing and planning music, coaching, directing rehearsals, or performing, Natalie is overjoyed to work with musicians both young and old!
Holly Wheeler Cowen
Holly Wheeler Cowen has loved singing her whole life. She grew up singing in a children’s church choir and was a part of the Lake City Middle School Choir and Show Choir. She remained a volunteer for the LCMS choir while in high school, accompanying on piano and assisting the director as needed. Most recently, she directed the adult choir and assisted with children’s choir at First United Methodist Church of Lake City for two years. It brings her joy to teach music to people of all ages, and to help them share that music and bring joy to anyone listening.
Holly has lived in Lake City, FL her whole life. She graduated from Columbia High School in 2013 and the University of North Florida in 2016. She has been employed by First Federal Bank of Florida since 2010.
Samantha Russel-Martinez's first love is music. Her music education has primarily been classical and she began to perform many years ago, as many young artists do; in the church choir. Samantha's knowledge of chorus grew as she progressed through her school days, advancing herself to Nationals as a soloist. After graduation, Samantha was blessed for a couple of years to be able to travel throughout Europe as a lead singer in a praise and worship ministry, and also managed to subsidize her income as a wedding singer. Before parenthood, Samantha's free time was spent with some performance coaching positions. Her favorite musical endeavor has been working with kids. She says, "When their performance improves and you see the pride on their faces, that's the best reward there is."
Chase Johnson is from Southern Pines, North Carolina. At the age of four, he began studying violin and then transferred to cello after eight years of violin instruction. Chase has studied Suzuki method and classical cello under various teachers, including Leslie Alperin, and renowned recording artist and performer, Nancy Green. While a junior in high school, Chase began studying for his associates in fine arts/cello performance, and later graduated high school and college simultaneously. He has won various competitions, including the Weymouth Festival for Young Musicians, all county, all state, and honors orchestra competitions. Chase enjoys teaching students of all ages to learn cello at The Music Academy.
Colton has been enjoying music since childhood. He began to pick out tunes by ear on many instruments until he fell in love with playing the guitar. He soon after began taking formal lessons under a professional instructor. Later, Colton enrolled in music theory classes at Florida Gateway College and studied college level saxophone and drum lessons under Paul Keck, the drumline director at the University of Florida. Colton began as a guitarist in the Gateway City Band, under the direction of Matt Johns in 2015. He also plays guitar in worship at his church. Colton is always looking to learn more about music, constantly learning from instructional books and resources, as well as taking opportunities to discuss music with professional musicians. As an instructor at The Music Academy, Colton gets to pursue two of his biggest passions - music and teaching. Colton teaches guitar, saxophone, and drums.