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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. 

Elliot Scozzaro
Erin Keppner

Flute, Piccolo, Piano, Ukulele

Erin Keppner earned her Masters of Music at DePaul University in Chicago, where she studied with the principal flutist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Previously, Erin completed her Bachelors of Music from the Aaron Copland School of Music in New York City. As a native of Western New York and a graduate of Iroquois Central Schools, Erin has performed with ensembles such as the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Erie Chamber Orchestra, Erie County Wind Ensemble, and Cheektowaga and Orchard Park Symphonies.


Passionate about music education, Erin has over ten years of experience teaching flute/piccolo, piano, music theory and general music. Her students have earned positions in ECMEA and NYSSMA honor ensembles, as well as college music programs. She has taught for organizations such as The People’s Music School (Chicago, IL,) Rhythm NY (Queens, NY,) The Art of Piano Playing (Long Island, NY,) The Aaron Copland School of Music (Queens, NY) and Iroquois Summer Lesson program (Elma, NY.) Erin specializes in teaching flute, piccolo, piano and ukulele. 

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John Aaron Troy

Woodwinds, Piano, Theory

Mr. Troy holds a B.A. in Jazz Studies & Woodwinds from Purchase Conservatory, under the tutelage of Eric Alexander. John maintains an active performance and instruction/clinician itinerary throughout the east coast of the United States. Recent  performances and associations include The John Brown Big band, Nicholas Payton, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Take 6, Revive Big Band, Regina Carter, Goapole, Eric Alexander, and film appearances in "Cabrini", "The Chain", and "Buffalo Rising."


As an educator/clinician, appearances and workshops include Penn State, Allegheny College, and recurrent tours for the NC Arts Council. John has honed his multiple woodwinds, piano, education and theory skills through a variety of touring and regional productions. He has traveled the globe as a soloist, and guest artist, in concert for commercial bands, hotels, musical productions and world cruise lines. Lastly, John is thrilled for the opportunity to instruct at Matt's Music, for any and all age groups and levels!

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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.

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. 

Grant Asklar

Saxophone, Clarinet, Piano

Grant Asklar is a collegiate saxophone player who currently attends SUNY Buffalo State College for Music Education, where he participates in numerous ensembles and choirs. Grant has performed around Europe in Switzerland, Germany, France, Belgium, and Austria, playing lead alto and principal saxophone with the American Music Abroad 2019 Freedom Tour. He has performed at the 2018 and 2019 Northwest Lewiston Jazz and enjoys playing in the big band and jazz combo setting. In addition to jazz, Grant has experience in the classical realm of saxophone. He has attended the Eastman Saxophone Workshop, the Frederick L. Hemke Saxophone Institute, the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, and the Brevard Music Center Saxophone Institute. Recently, Grant was invited to audition for the United States Pershing's Army Band. He currently holds the position of Assistant Director of The Orchard Park Chorale. Grant loves teaching saxophone, clarinet, and piano at Matt's Music.

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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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