Our nationally recognized, award winning team has over 157 years of combined teaching experience.
Dr. Dave Wilken, Program Director
"Dr. Dave" has been a part of MusicWorks Asheville since 2014 and has served as Program Director since 2016. Dr. Wilken studied composition at Illinois Wesleyan University, jazz studies at DePaul University, and trombone performance at Ball State University. He has taught music at Indiana Wesleyan University, Adams State College, University of North Carolina at Asheville, and Western Carolina University, Owen High School. Based in Asheville, NC, he performs as a freelance trombonist in the region, directs the Asheville Jazz Orchestra and the Land of the Sky Symphonic Band. He also composes and arranges music for a variety of student and professional ensembles.
Anilia Hornsby - Fundraising and Volunteer Coordinator
Anilia Hornsby was born just outside Petionville, Haiti to missionary parents. She moved to the US in 1987, fleeing with her family as political violence escalated. After spending time in south west Virginia she moved to Baltimore and worked at Johns Hopkins University where she ran an outdoor movie series every summer and coordinated student activities for high school students coming in to take college courses during the summer. She also traveled all over the country teaching senior citizens about the changes to Medicare. In 2009 she became a mother and since then has focused on playing with children and learning from her son and daughter. She is passionate about making it possible for all children to explore life through music and the arts.
Shambra Watkins - Academic Support Specialist
Shambra Hall Watkins graduated from Western Carolina University in 1992 receiving a BA in Early Childhood Education/Birth-Kindergarten Licensure. She taught 7 years through the Community Action Opportunities of Madison and Buncombe Counties Head Start Program. She has served as a Kindergarten teacher at Hall Fletcher Elementary School for 15 years. Shambra is a musician. She has years of experiences with singing on the Western Carolina University Chorus, Western Carolina Inspirational Gospel Choir, and with her church choir. She has a passion for teaching young children. As MW! Academic Support Specialist, she assists students in learning the early fundamentals of academics while learning music. She believes that musical experiences provide students with the opportunity to socialize and learn self-regulation as students are able to sing, dance and play instruments together while also learning how to share, take turns, learn cultural awareness, and increase fine and large motor skills. Shambra feels strongly that Music Works! helps close the achievement gap by providing students’ the opportunity to learn important academic skills while enjoying and learning music.
Laura Blackley - Musicianship Teaching Artist
Laura Blackley is a singer, writer and purveyor of high lonesome Appalachian blues and soul. She plays ‘folk tunes with a rock n roll soundtrack’ with her band the Wildflowers. Their album, titled “Tell It To the Darkness” was released in April 2017.
Laura Blackley & the Wildflowers took first place in the North Carolina Piedmont Blues Preservation Society’s 31st annual Blues Challenge Band Competition back in October 2016. This win put them on the roster of artists invited to compete in the International Blues Challenge, held in Memphis, Tennessee in February 2017.
Blackley also sings classic country duets and dance tunes with The Old Chevrolette Set, a honky tonk band from Asheville, NC.
Blackley was an on-air host and producer for seven years at WNCW 88.7 FM in Spindale, NC, spotlighting contemporary regional music, blues, bluegrass, old-time and women in roots music.
She currently works (in addition to her gig schedule) as a Teaching Artist with Musicworks, a program that utilizes music and musicianship to teach life skills to young children. In addition to this, she is a recipient of numerous TAPAS (Teaching Artists Presenting in Asheville Schools) grants, working with area students exploring their North Carolina musical heritage.
Blackley was invited in February 2018 by the City of Morganton, NC to teach Burke County 3rd graders about Caldwell County native (and Piedmont Blues musician) Etta Baker, for the school system’s Etta Baker week.
A born storyteller, she has played in many bands, traveled many back roads and interstates and enjoys digging up old tunes and hearing the stories behind them. She believes that music has a healing power and is a communal act, and is very much looking forward to the next gig.
Aaron Price - Kindergarten Teaching Artist
Aaron is a lifelong musician very honored and excited to be a part of the MusicWorks team. Fluent as a vocalist, pianist, and guitarist, he brings a wide musical and performance background to the program. As a theater musical director, youth camp music-instructor, and church music director Aaron is always seeking to build a team and bring out the best in the group. Aaron comes from a long matriarchal line of piano teachers and choir directors! In addition to teaching individual music lessons, he is active in the Asheville music scene, performing regularly with several notable acts including Wham Bam Bowie Band, The Zealots, and The Jeff Thompson Band.
Virginia Duquet - Academic Support Specialist
Mrs. Duquet recently retired after 20 years of classroom teaching at Hall Fletcher Elementary. Having taught in several different grades over the years, she enjoys working with students of all ages. It’s also great to be part of the joyful noise we make in MusicWorks!
Isabel Castellvi - String Teaching Artist
Isabel Castellvi is a versatile multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, songwriter and composer. She is passionate about sharing the joy and beauty of music through performing and teaching. Isabel has shared music with audiences all over the world through performances, recordings and teaching. This experience continues to be a great source of inspiration, deepening the understanding of music as a universal language and revealing it's powerful ability to connect people and communities. Her musical travels have taken her throughout North America, Europe, Asia, Central and South America and the Middle East. She received a Bachelor’s in music performance at DePaul University and a Master's in the Contemporary Performance Program at Manhattan School of Music.
Ayanna Sanders - Behavioral Specialist
Ayanna Sanders is a native New Yorker who relocated to Asheville 7 years ago from Atlanta, GA. She has worked in Asheville City Schools Exceptional Children's program for 6 years in several elementary schools and Asheville Middle school specifically in behavior and intensive intervention classrooms. Prior to moving to Asheville in 2011, Ms. Sanders was a Quality Assurance manager with an IT Service and network communications company in Atlanta for 8 years where she managed staff in North America and overseas. Ms. Sanders attended Shaw University in North Carolina and graduated with honors from Georgia Piedmont College in Atlanta. She is presently a student at Western Carolina University working on achieving her doctorate in Developmental Psychology.
Jason Minnix, Bucket Band
Mr. Jason Minnix grew up in Roanoke, Virginia, where he knew music was his life's calling. He began playing the piano at the age of 6, and graduated to wind instruments at the age of 10. A former graduate of Franklin County High School, Jason received his music education degree through DePaul University in Chicago, IL. He has been a music educator and band director for almost twenty years, having nationally-recognized programs in VA and NC. Currently, Jason resides with his lovely wife, Brandy, a music educator herself, in Asheville, NC. He continues to play saxophone frequently with the Asheville Jazz Orchestra, and has absolutely fallen in love with the MusicWorks program and philosophy.
Madelyn Sovern, String Teaching Artist
Madelyn is a musician, herbalist, and teacher. With passions for music, creativity, health and wellness, nature connection, and community building, she has taught with many organizations over the years, such as the Transylvania Youth Strings program,, Next Step Educators music after school program, the Florida Herbal Conference and the Southeast Wise Women’s Herbal Conference, Pickards Mountain Eco Institute, Farm & Wilderness summer camps, Girls Rock Camps, the Young Women Leaders mentorship program, and she co-created a Young Herbalists homeschooling program in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Music has deeply enriched Madelyn’s own life, and she wishes to provide others with the skills to access music as a means for creative expression, relaxation and stress relief, joy, community building, and entertainment for self and others. Madelyn believes in nurturing a natural sense of wonder in children and young adults, and holds space in a way so as to facilitate creativity and exploration.
Eleanor Vaughan, Chorus Teaching Artist
Ms. Vaughan has over 30 years of teaching music to children and adults, ranging from private piano instructor, Music Therapist for pre-schoolers with special needs, General Music and Chorus teacher at the elementary level, Musical Director for school musicals at elementary, middle and high school levels, Church musician (pianist and choir director), former member of Boston Pops Gospel Choir, New England Conservatory Millenium Gospel Choir and Redemption Worship Team. She has been part of MusicWorks since 2015.