Directors  Violin  Viola  Cello  Piano  Voice  Flute  Guitar Mandolin  Banjo  Ukulele  Fiddle  Bluegrass

Alice Kanack – Executive Director

Violin, Viola, Suzuki violin, Suzuki viola, CAD

Alice is a Rochester native with degrees in Performance and Composition from the Eastman School of Music. She is an accredited Suzuki Association of Americas teacher, with training both in the US and in Japan with Dr. Shinichi Suzuki. Alice’s “Creative Ability Development” series of books and recordings are currently published by Warner Bros. and are sold internationally.


Andrew Barnhart – Artistic Director

Cello, Suzuki Cello, Chamber, Orchestra, CAD

Cellist Andrew Barnhart is a native of the Detroit, Michigan area where he began playing the cello in the public school system at the age of ten.  He holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and a Master’s degree, Performer’s Certificate, and Orchestral Studies Diploma from the Eastman School of Music where is is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Musical Arts.  Andrew serves as Principal Cello for the Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes in Corning and Elmira, NY and of the Colgate University Symphony Orchestra where he is also on faculty.  As a chamber musician he has performed with the Michigan Chamber Players, the Eastman Chamber Music Society, and the Eastman Virtuosi.  He is a member of the Half-Six Piano Trio with pianist Toni James and violinist Man Yui Kitty Cheung.  His major teachers have been Richard Piippo, Erling Blöndal Bengtsson, and Alan Harris.

Michelle Bitler

Suzuki piano, Piano, Violin, Suzuki violin, Viola, Suzuki viola, Chamber, Preschool classes, CAD

Michelle Bitler joined The Kanack School of Musical Artistry in 2012 after teaching in Pittsburgh for several years. In addition to having a studio of pianists, violinists, and violists, Michelle teaches improvisation and repertoire group classes. She is also a chamber music coach and piano accompanist.

With degrees from the Eastman School of Music and University of Rochester, Michelle also received Suzuki training in Chicago and Pittsburgh, early childhood music training in Buffalo, and CAD (Creative Ability Development) training here at KSMA. Her students include children of all ages and adults. She uses a variety of teaching methods and draws upon her extensive experience as a performer and collaborator.

Michelle can also be found playing violin with the local chamber group Cordancia, an orchestra that performs an eclectic array of repertoire. She is also a piano accompanist at SUNY Geneseo. In a past life (before having children!), Michelle led an active musical life performing as an orchestral, chamber, solo, freelance, and church musician.

While always engaged with music at some level, Michelle also enjoys knitting, cooking, and spending time with her family. Michelle, her husband, and two children are so pleased to be part of the KSMA community!

Lee Byrne

Violin, Suzuki violin

Lee is a Rochester native who trained with the renowned Suzuki pedagogue Anastasia Jempelis at the Eastman School of Music. Lee is an accredited teacher with the Suzuki Association of the Americas and has also had extensive training in Early Childhood education.

Jacqueline Cordova-Arrington

Flute, Chamber

Building a versatile career as a professional flutist and educator, Dr. Jacqueline Cordova-Arrington is committed to collaborating with distinguished artists, citizens, and thinkers to create inspiring and culturally unifying experiences for communities and artists alike. As a fellow of Carnegie Hall’s Ensemble Connect —formerly known as Ensemble ACJW—Jacqueline had innumerable opportunities to accomplish this mission, creating tangible impact as a performer, educator and community advocate. Ensemble Connect is a two-year artistic residency professional classical musicians in the United States combining musical excellence with teaching artistry, community engagement, advocacy, entrepreneurship, and leadership.

Jacqueline recently completed her doctorate at the Eastman School of Music studying with Bonita Boyd with an additional certificate in World Music. Her former teachers include: Bradley Garner, David Cramer, and Amy Porter.

Equally at home on the orchestral stage, and as a recipient of the William D. Ford Fulbright Grant, Jacqueline was the first American to study extensively with principal flutists of the Berlin Philharmonic Andreas Blau and Emmanuel Pahud. Her training in Berlin initiated her success as an orchestral flutist, leading to performances with major orchestras, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Buffalo Philharmonic and Louisiana Philharmonic.

Jacqueline currently lives in Webster, NY with her husband. Her favorite past times, apart from jamming in chamber music sight-reading sessions, includes: playing with her incredible pets Rosie and Midnight, hiking, and attempting challenging culinary feasts for family and friends

Erik Gibelyou

Guitar, Electric Guitar, Bass Guitar, Ukulele

Erik Gibelyou, a native of Bay City, Michigan, started playing guitar at age 12, shortly after his introduction to the tenor saxophone. He played many styles of music as a young guitarist, including fingerstyle, rock, and heavy metal. Erik enrolled at Delta College in 2006 and met his first classical guitar teacher, Dr. Brad DeRoche. After taking music classes and lessons with Professor DeRoche, Erik transferred to Saginaw Valley State University, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Music Performance. He studied classical guitar with Javier Calderon at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, completing his Master of Music in Guitar Performance in 2015, and his Master of Arts in Music Theory in 2016. Erik is continuing his study of classical guitar at the Eastman School of Music with Dr. Nicholas Goluses, beginning the Doctor of Musical Arts in Performance and Literature in the fall of 2016.

As an undergraduate at Saginaw Valley State University, Erik traveled to Rome, Italy to participate in the Rome Festival Chamber Music Seminar, where he studied with local musicians, performed in operas, and performed numerous solo works and chamber works. Erik was an active member in the Madison Classical Guitar Society while living in Wisconsin, and he kept a large studio of private students. In July 2016, Erik was a featured artist and faculty member at the Michigan Classical Guitar Workshop, where he performed a solo recital and presented a paper on the guitar music of Hans Werner Henze.

Erik is successful in engaging students of all ages and maintains a high retention rate. He cares about his students and brings a positive and encouraging attitude to lessons.

Sofya Gurevich

Piano, Preschool classes

Sofya got her degree in piano, music theory and music literature in Russia. After teaching in Russia for many years, she moved to Rochester in 1993. Sofya currently teaches piano and also has extensive training in early childhood education.

Elise Hughey


Minnesota native Elise Hughey first discovered the cello at age ten through her elementary school orchestra program. She then studied in Minneapolis with former Minnesota Orchestra member (and current Toronto Symphony Orchestra principal) Joseph Johnson. Elise received her Bachelor of Music degree and Master of Music degree at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York under the tutelage of Steven Doane and Rosemary Elliott. During her graduate studies, she was awarded the position of Teaching Assistant for Steven Doane’s studio. Recently Elise studied the Creative Ability Development teaching method with Alice Kanack of the Kanack School of Music. Elise performs regularly with the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, the Binghamton Philharmonic, and her string quartet, quartet442. In addition to her musical pursuits, Elise is also a certified yoga instructor and she enjoys incorporating body and breath awareness in her cello teaching.

Daphne Kanack-Pickens


Daphne Pickens has studied the violin at the Kanack School of Music for approximately sixteen years, and plans to pursue a career in music education. Daphne has served as concertmaster in the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. She won the RPYO concerto competition with the Scottish Fantasy by Bruch. She is classically trained by her mother, Alice Kanack, and was raised in a fiddling environment since the age of five. Daphne now teaches fiddle and violin at the Kanack School of Music. She is very involved in the rochester contradance community as a musician, and frequent dancer.

David Labman


David Labman lives in the Rochester, NY area.  He teaches chorus and general music at the Victor Central Schools (since 2000), he is the director of music at the First Baptist Church of Rochester (since 2002), and he frequently performs both classical and jazz piano locally.  He is currently performing and recording with Grammy-nominated jazz artist, Jimmie Highsmith, Jr.  Labman also works in area theaters as musical director, pianist, conductor, and orchestrator (his orchestrations for the musical Five Course Love were performed first at GEVA Theatre, and then published and performed in an off-Broadway production in 2006).

Labman earned a Master of Music degree in music education (cum laude) at Ithaca College in 2000 and a Bachelor of Music degree in music education at Nazareth College of Rochester (magna cum laude) in 1997.  His primary instrumental training is in classical piano from grade school through college.  Additionally, Labman studied jazz piano while playing professionally in Philadelphia and New York.  

Prior to his college education, David Labman worked professionally in the Philadelphia area (1975—1990) as a pianist, keyboardist, vocalist and musical director, spanning multiple styles of music including, rock, R&B, jazz, and classical.  During this time, he also recorded his first compositions.  He continued his work as a composer during his undergraduate degree at Nazareth where he studied composition with Tim Sullivan and wrote his Expressions for the Pianoforte.  Labman also studied composition with Gregory Woodward at Ithaca College.

In recent years, Labman has returned his attention towards composing.  Piano Concerto No. 1 in D major is his first major orchestral work.  It was started in 2006 and completed in 2010.  February 12, 2011 was the premiere of the concerto in its entirety (three movements), performed by the Finger Lakes Symphony Orchestra—Diego Garcia, conductor—along with the Hochstein Percussion Ensemble—Jim Tiller, director—and Labman on piano.  New orchestral works are in progress as well as pieces for solo piano and jazz fusion ensemble.

Labman has been teaching piano privately throughout his career.  His students have varied interests.  They generally begin with a traditional classical approach and as they grow in age and skill, they have the option to branch out in various areas.  Most continue in classical and add other styles to their lessons.  Labman is excited to begin teaching at the Kanack School and will offer private lessons in classical piano and jazz piano.

Rachael Lemna

Cello, Suzuki Cello, Pre School Classes, CAD

Rachael Lemna, a Chicago native, first discovered the cello and piano and the ages of four and five. In fact, she was so excited to begin playing musical instruments that she completely emptied her piggy bank in order to help her parents pay for lessons! Rachael had the unique opportunity to learn these instruments under different teaching styles (Suzuki Method for cello and Traditional Method for piano) and has consequently attained a firm understanding of different ways to educate.

Rachael completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Cello Performance and Music Theory at the Cleveland Institute of Music where she also earned minors in Dalcroze Eurhythmics and Suzuki Pedagogy. Her principal teacher was pedagogue Dr. Melissa Kraut and her Suzuki teacher trainers included Ms. Pamela Devenport and Ms. Abbey Hansen. She now is pursuing her Master’s Degree in Cello Performance and Literature at Eastman School of Music under the instruction of Mr. Steven Doane and Ms. Rosemary Elliott.

Rachael is so excited to be at the Kanack School of Music and is eager to share her love of music and learning through teaching.

Ben Proctor

Banjo, Bluegrass

Ben Proctor is a musical pilgrim living in Rochester, New York. He works as a performer, teacher of guitar and rock history for Fairport Central School District, instructor and ensemble director at the Kanack School of Music, and private teacher of guitar, voice, banjo, dobro, and mandolin. His current project is acclaimed bluegrass/Americana band The Crooked North. He has many annoying habits, like constantly playing instruments and singing children’s melodies in odd meters. Ben likes to write songs and believes that teaching music is a high art.

Mr. Proctor graduated from the Eastman School of Music in 2009, receiving a Master’s degree in Music Education and New York State teacher certification in music. He completed his Bachelor’s degree in Ethnomusicology at SUNY Geneseo in 2005 with highest honors. As an independent musician, Ben has performed in concert halls such as the Tribeca Performing Arts Center and Kilbourne Hall, international bluegrass and jazz festivals, and legendary rock venues such as CBGSs. As an educator, he has published teaching tools, given seminars, and been a guest teaching artist. He dreams of one day having a really cool nickname and a family band with everyone in corny matching outfits. The family band is underway, although the two youngest children are still not strong enough to support the weight of most bluegrass instruments. But that does not prevent them from trying.

Ben grew up in a Connecticut swamp where he dreamt of becoming a famous jazz musician. He played with jazz, blues, gospel, rock, and klezmer groups for a few years in Connecticut (including the Afro-Semitic Experience) before moving to New York City, where he postponed finishing college for the third time. With a lot of time on his hands and needing to support his annoying habits, he built websites, acted in off-Broadway theater, and performed with country, blues, and rock and roll bands. After years of musical soul-searching, he found his passion singing and playing American traditional music. He brought this passion to Western New York to finish college and begin his career as a musician, music teacher, and advocate for participation in social music traditions. His long-term goal is for everyone to learn a musical instrument that they can play in kitchens and on porches with their friends and families.

Learn more about Ben Proctor – Banjo, Dobro, Mandolin (Guitar, Voice) at:

Thomas Rodgers

Violin, Chamber Music

Thomas Rodgers, a native of Anderson, Indiana, joined the first violin section of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in March of 2012.  In May, he completed a Master of Music degree in violin performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he studied with William Preucil, concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra.  He also holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music (graduated summa cum laude), where he studied with Alexander Kerr, former concertmaster of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.  Thomas began studying the piano at age five with his father and started violin lessons at the age of six.  During his high school days as a member of the Indiana University Violin Virtuosi directed by Mimi Zweig, Thomas performed with the group in the U.S., Europe, and Japan.  He is the winner of the Indiana University Jacob’s School of Music Concerto Competition and Kuttner Chamber Music Competition, the Indianapolis Symphony Side-By-Side Concerto Competition, the MTNA Jr. High String Competition, the Chamber Music Fellowship sponsored by the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, and is the winner of various young artist competitions in Indiana.  He has attended a number of summer festivals including the Pacific Music Festival, the Sarasota Music Festival, Music Academy of the West, the National Arts Centre Young Artists Programme directed by Pinchas Zukerman, Encore School for Strings, and Meadowmount.  He has participated in masterclasses by Joseph Silverstein, Pamela Frank, Gilbert Kalish, Mark Kaplan, Mauricio Fuks, Jerome Lowenthal, Peter Salaff, Joshua Bell, Barnabas Kelemen, the Orion String Quartet, Donald Weilerstein, and Ruggiero Ricci.

Alyssa Rodriguez

Fiddle, Suzuki fiddle, Suzuki violin, Suzuki viola

Alyssa Rodriguez is a classically trained violinist gone fiddle player who holds a degree in Music Composition from Ithaca College. She discovered her love of fiddle music in Ithaca’s vibrant Contra dance and Irish music scene, and discovered Ball Folk and other European fiddle music while studying abroad in Vienna, Austria. She has studied Irish fiddle with Tim Ball and Scandinavian fiddle with Laurie Hart of Ithaca, NY, and enjoys performing for live dance events. She plays a myriad of European fiddle styles, and is passionate about teaching fiddle and about all things radio. She also studied Suzuki pedagogy with Carrie Reuning-Hummel.

Austin Wahl

Guitar, Suzuki Guitar, Mandolin

Austin Wahl, a Minneapolis native, began his guitar studies in 1998 with Alan Johnston, a former member of the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet, at the MacPhail Center for Music. Annually from 2004 to 2011, Wahl attended the American Suzuki Institute in Stevens Point, WI where he worked with Alan Johnston and Joseph Pecoraro. In 2009, he also studied with David Madsen at the MacPhail Suzuki Institute in Minneapolis. Between 2011 and 2015, Wahl earned his B. M. and Performer’s Certificate from the Eastman School of Music, studying with Dr. Nicholas Goluses. He will begin his M. M. studies in August of 2015, also at the Eastman School with Dr. Goluses. Wahl received his Suzuki guitar teaching certificate in August of 2012 from Mary Lou Roberts in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Wahl has won top prizes in various competitions. These include first in the Schubert Club (2010) and Thursday Musical (2011) scholarship competitions, second in the 2009 Schubert Club competition, being named a Showcase Artist in the inaugural Minnesota Varsity competition (2011), third in the Women of the Guitar Competition (2014), third in the Great Lakes Guitar Society Competition in 2013 and 2014, and first in 2015. In addition. Wahl also won the prestigious biennial Eastman Guitar Concerto Competition, and performed Rodrigo’s Fantasia para un Gentilhombre with the Eastman Philharmonia in April of 2014.
Wahl has performed in masterclasses for David Russell, Lorenzo Micheli, Matteo Mela, Benjamin Verdery, William and Adam Kossler, Judicael Perroy, Jeremy Jouve, Raphaella Smits, David Madsen, Sharon Isbin, Eliot Fisk, Roland Dyens, the Eden-Stell Guitar Duo, Anton Baranov, and Krzysztof Meisinger.

Teryle Watson

Voice, Piano, Chorus, Musical Theater

Teryle Thomas Watson was born in Brooklyn,New York .As the only child of Virgil and Lauramae Thomas,  music became central to her life at an early age.She began her formal training at the Juilliard School of Music at age five.The preparatory department of Juilliard provided her with training in piano,voice and music theory .She is also an alumna of the High School of Music and Art in New York City where she majored in violincello.In 1967,Teryle adopted Rochester,New York as her new home upon her acceptance at the Eastman School of Music.Immediately upon her graduation from Eastman she traveled to the United Kingdom where she concertized as a cellist,singer and pianist while doing coursework at the Royal College of Music.
In her return to Rochester in January of 1975 she began what was to be a thirty one year career as a music teacher with the Rochester City School District.She has been honored to serve the children and families of schools 36,33,58,39,West High School,Marshall High School,Benjamin Franklin High School,East High School and the School of the Arts.During this period she was also conductor of the Inter-High School Choir for the RCSD.Her passion for large choral works led her to teach and conduct many of the great masterpieces of the genre with her students.This legacy includes Elijah,the Magnificat of J.S.Bach,the Requiem Masses of Rutter,Faure and Mozart,the Gloria settings of Poulenc and Vivaldi,the Peaceable Kingdom of Randall Thompson,and Messiah in its entirety by G.F.Handel.Her love of Musical Theatre has been witnessed in over fifty productions she has directed in this area.Two musicals,Big River and Ragtime,both School of the Arts productions won the Best Musical Award given by the Rochester Broadway Theatre League.
Teryle has also been active in the Gateways Music Festival.She has played cello numerous times in the festival orchestra and has served as chorus master/conductor for performances of the Lord Nelson Mass and the Choral Finale of the Beethoven Ninth Symphony.
For twelve years she taught voice at the Rochester Association of the Performing Arts.Her students have been known for their outstanding work at many schools and conservatories including,the Eastman School of Music,Syracuse University,Ithaca College,Manhattanville College,Suny Purchase,Geneseo,Potsdam and Fredonia,Indiana University ,Boston Conservatory of Music,New England Conservatory of Music,Westminster Choir College,Lincoln University,Heidleberg College,Central State University,and Oklahoma State College.
Her love of music found its first foundation in the Church while she was a young child.This journey would lead her to become a Sister of Saint Joseph of Rochester.Liturgical music and Pastoral Ministry have remained a mainstay of her life as she has held music ministry positions at the former St. Augustines Church,Immaculate Conception Church,Our Lady of Victory Church, the former St. Phillip Neri Church and Memorial AME Zion Church.She has served on the Womens Commission ,the Music Commission and the Liturgy Commission of the Diocese of Rochester.
Teryle is also the former conductor of the Rochester Peace Child Chorus and a singer with the Opera Theatre of Rochester.

Tim Ball

Fiddle, Suzuki fiddle, Suzuki violin

Tim Ball grew up playing both classical violin and fiddle music, and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Violin Performance from Ithaca College, where he studied with Susan Waterbury. While there, Tim dove headfirst into the contra dance and Irish music scenes, and is fortunate to have been mentored by David Kaynor, Ed McGowan, and many others. He has also studied Suzuki teaching with Carrie Reuning-Hummel. Tim has performed at numerous contra dances and festivals throughout the Northeast with his band Tunescape, and plays around central New York with the contra dance band Tempest, the Irish band Traonach, and many others. Passionate about introducing authentic fiddle music to classical musicians, Tim has taught at camps including the Ithaca Suzuki Institute and the Kanack School’s fiddle camp. Tim’s schedule and recordings are available at his website, http://timballviolin.com.