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Get to Know Us

Woodwind Teachers: Team Members
Rachel Birkman

Woodwinds, Accordion 

Rachel Birkman has been a member of our teaching staff since 2012, but became a part of the Matt’s Music family when she began taking lessons as a 9-year-old. Specializing in woodwinds and having primarily studied the clarinet, Rachel received her Bachelor of Music in Music Education degree from SUNY Buffalo State and her Master of Music in Music Education degree from SUNY Fredonia. Currently, Rachel is the instrumental music director at Cardinal O’Hara High School. When she is not teaching, Rachel enjoys spending time with her family and friends. She can also be found performing in various community ensembles around WNY. 

Tiffany Manzella


Tiffany began teaching at Matt's in 2005.  Tiffany has been playing flute for 30 years and in her 17 years teaching at Matt's Music, she has helped the growth of countless flute students.  She studied under Gretchen Rowe and went to Buffalo State College for Business Administration.  She is also employed at a metal manufacturer as a Specialist at Materion Corporation.  She also occasionally teaches saxophone, piano, and ukulele. 

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Nicholas Childs


Nicholas Childs is an active saxophonist and educator currently residing in Buffalo, New York. Childs has performed with the Chautauqua Symphony, the Buffalo Philharmonic and in various chamber music series across New York, including Caffe Lena on the Battehnkill and the De Blasiis Chamber Music Series. In addition to traditional concert venues, Childs has performed as part of mixed media performances with local artists and children’s outreach series. As an advocate of new music Childs has premiered works by Zdenek Lukas and Kevin Austin, among others and been an active participant in the ETHOS New Music Society and Florida State University’s Festival of New Music. He has presented multiple solo and chamber recitals at various conferences across the United States, including the Navy Saxophone Symposium and both regional and national North American Saxophone Alliance conferences.

Childs is an adjunct lecturer of saxophone at SUNY Fredonia where he teaches applied lessons and methods courses. He has also taught interim at Syracuse University. Childs holds degrees from Florida State University (DM), SUNY Fredonia (MM) and Northern Arizona University (BM) under the direction of Geoffrey Deibel, Wildy Zumwalt and Jonathan Bergeron.

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Katie Kovacs

Bassoon, Oboe, Clarinet, Saxophone

Katie Kovacs, a native of Grand Island, NY, is currently a graduate student at University at Buffalo. She is majoring in arts management while also continuing to study bassoon. She is a graduate of Baldwin Wallace University where she received a bachelor’s in music performance with a minor in English.


At Matt’s Music, she teaches bassoon, oboe, clarinet and saxophone to musicians of all ages and ability levels. She also makes bassoon reeds and has an Etsy shop where she sells them online. She is also a member of the American Legion Band of the Tonawandas, the UB Symphony Orchestra on bassoon, and plays oboe, flute, clarinet and sings with St. Stephen’s Music Ministry.


While a passionate performer, Katie hopes to expand her expertise into the field of arts management. She is a student assistant at the UB Anderson Art Gallery, where she is learning more about museum management and educational outreach. Outside of the arts, Katie loves stationery/bullet journaling, cooking, yoga, and beekeeping with her Dad, who maintains 12 hives for Katie Bee Honey.

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Matthew White

Matthew White Is a saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist born and raised in Buffalo, New York. Matthew started playing music at the age of 11 on clarinet. Shortly after, he fell in love with the saxophone. Matthew also developed his love of jazz at a young age by being exposed to artists such as John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis, And many more.

Matthew attended Shenandoah University to earn his degree in jazz studies. He has studied with top-class musicians such as Luis Hernandez, Timothy Roberts, Robert Larson, Craig Fraedric, Curtis Taylor, William Menefield, and Damani Phillips. Matthew graduated with a Master's degree in jazz studies at the University of Iowa, under the instruction of Doctor Damani Phillips. During his time at The University of Iowa, Matthew was a teaching assistant.

In high school, Matthew kept busy by attending various college honor bands around New York State, such as the Buffalo State College Honor Band and The Roberts Wesylen Honor Band. He also participated in the Capital University Honor Band in Columbus, Ohio. During high school, Matthew was part of the Erie County wind ensemble and the jazz band for various years. He also was part of the New York State Conference All-State Wind Ensemble in 2015 and the New York State Band Association Wind Ensemble in 2017.

Matthew started performing around Buffalo, New York, at 15. He has played in prestigious bars in the area, such as Buffalo Iron Works and The Sportsman Tavern. He has the opportunity to play with top-class musicians such as Marcus Stone, Juini Booth, Ashlin Parker, and Stephanie Nakasian and has played at a few music festivals in New York State.

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