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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Violin, Fiddle, Chamber Music
Daphne Pickens received her bachelor’s degree in violin performance at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where she studied with Marilyn McDonald. She recently completed a masters degree in music education at the Eastman School of Music, where she studied with Juliana Athayde. Having begun her musical studies and career at the Kanack School of Musical Artistry, Daphne has over 10 years of teaching experience. With strong roots in folk and classical styles, she currently performs with The Crooked North and Birch Trio. She has released one folk album to date with her best friend and bandmate, Casey Murray, titled To Zamir (2013). In addition to her roles as performer and teacher, Daphne is also an avid composer, arranger, and visual artist. In 2016, Daphne collaborated with the Great Bear Trio, composing and recording string parts for their album, Magic Fantasy Dream Dance. Her drawings are featured in Book 2 of the Creative Ability Development Series, Basslines and Fantasies (2014), by Alice Kanack. In her free time, Daphne enjoys spending quality time with her friends and family, playing board games, knitting, attending contra and blues dances, and creating art out of broken, unusable musical instruments.