FREE ConCERT Benefiting
hurricane dorian victims
north shore high school auditorium
glen head
September 20, 2019
7:30 pm                                             

Founded in 2014, the SummerStrings! RockFest gives elementary, middle and high school students who study orchestral stringed instruments (violin, viola, cello and double bass) the opportunity to play rock, blues, fiddling and improvisatory styles of music in a fun, social setting. The Festival orchestras meet for 8 evening rehearsals at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Sea Cliff and present a free concert on July 31 alongside teen and adult string teachers and a professional rhythm section. SummerStrings! keeps kids playing music over the summer in a creative performing arts program while allowing the flexibility to enjoy other activities during the day.



STRINGERS is a fun performing group for elementary school orchestra students who have completed 1 - 3 years of training on their instruments through NYSSMA level 2.  This group plays upbeat music that incorporates rock, fiddling and improvisation.  This season, the Stringers will be performing music by Queen, the Verve and others with a professional rhythm section and selected vocalists.  Rehearsals are Monday and Wednesday evenings from 6:00 - 7:00 pm in the recreation hall at St. Luke's Episcopal Church beginning Monday, July 1, 2019. Conductor/teacher:  Matthew Schneider and festival teachers.


ROCKESTRA is our most advanced string orchestra that plays rock music with a professional rhythm section and selected vocalists.  This group is for students who are currently performing at NYSSMA levels 3-6.  This season, the Rockestra will be playing music by Queen, the Verve, U2 and other artists. Rehearsals are Monday and Wednesday evenings from 7:30 - 8:50 pm in the recreation hall at St. Luke's Episcopal Church beginning Monday, July 1, 2019. Conductor/teacher:  Matthew Schneider and festival teachers.

 Festival Videos

Rockestra and Troy Ramey perform Sir Duke at the 2018 SummerStrings! RockFest
The Stringers, Siobhan Esposito and Ella Oswald perform "Handclap" at the 2018 SummerStrings! RockFest



BEGINNER VIOLIN, VIOLA and CELLO classes are designed specifically for students with no prior experience who are completing 2nd grade and have just selected a stringed instrument to study in 3rd grade.  Students learn foundational skills in a fun, social setting and perform a set of songs for family and friends at the final class meeting on Monday, July 29th at the Woodshed—Sea Cliff Music’s studio space at 86 Roslyn Avenue in Sea Cliff.  These highly recommended classes provide an invaluable head start to learning a stringed instrument and set students on a course for tremendous success with instrumental music at school!

Individual instruction is available for BEGINNER BASS students by contacting Matthew Schneider at

We assist in renting an instrument for beginner students and have the instruments delivered to Sea Cliff Music for the first day of class.  We will email parents of registered beginner students one week before class begins to make rental arrangements.

Classes meet Mondays and Wednesdays 4:30-5:30 pm, July 1 - July 29, 2019. (No class July 3rd) 

Fiddle solo!


Rockestra and Stringers: $395.00.  Cost includes tuition, $20.00 non-refundable registration and a festival T-shirt. 

Beginner classes:  $250.00.  Cost includes tuition,  $20.00 non-refundable registration fee and a festival T-shirt. 

Tuition Refunds: 100% tuition refund minus the registration fee will be honored until June 28th, 2019. Tuition payments are non-refundable after June 28th, 2019.


Free concert at the North Shore High School auditorium in Glen Head, NY.



Additional Information

Materials: Students must bring their instruments, sheet music (in a folder or binder) and a foldable music stand to each rehearsal.   It is also highly recommended that students bring a water bottle.  Music will be distributed at the first rehearsal.

Attendance:  Beginner classes: Instruction is cumulative and it is best for students to attend every class.  While there is no minimum attendance requirement to enroll in beginner classes, students will fall behind if they miss more than 2 classes and arrangements should be made for private extra help.  

Rockestra and Sea Cliff Stringers: Attendance is crucial to the success of both performing groups and every effort should be made to attend each rehearsal.  However, it is understood that summer is also the season for family vacations.  In the interest of balancing the needs of the performing groups with family vacation time, students may miss up to two rehearsals for travel or illness and remain eligible to perform in the final concert.  Students who miss three or more rehearsals will not be eligible to perform in the concert without arranging for private extra help.  The instructor reserves the right to make a final determination on a case by case basis.

Extra Help:  There are several instructors at each rehearsal to help students learn and master the music.  However, if a student feels the need for extra help, a private lesson can be arranged with Matthew Schneider.

Locations:  All rehearsals are at St. Luke's Episcopal Church which is located at 253 Glen Avenue, Sea Cliff, NY 11579 at the intersection of Glen and Roslyn Avenues. Beginner classes will be held at the Woodshed—Sea Cliff Music’s studio space at 86 Roslyn Avenue in Sea Cliff.


Faculty and Student Teachers

Matthew Schneider, a K-12 NYS licensed music educator, is the Founder and Director of the SummerStrings! RockFest.  A graduate of Oberlin Conservatory and Purchase College Conservatory of Music, Matthew served as Principal Bassist with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra, Aspen Music Festival, Cape May Music Festival and the Spoleto Music Festival. He has performed extensively throughout the United States at venues including the Blue Note, The Apollo Theater, Merkin Hall and Carnegie Hall in New York City. In addition, Matthew performed on commercials for the John Stewart Show, Nickelodeon Channel and National Public Radio. Since moving from Brooklyn to Sea Cliff with his family in 2003, Matthew has focused primarily on music education. He taught orchestra and jazz band in the Long Island public schools for ten years while simultaneously pursuing post-graduate studies in Modern Psychoanalysis. In 2013, Matthew founded Sea Cliff Music to further his work in music education and maintains a thriving private teaching studio.  

Lisa Quispe is a native Long Islander who started her formal training as a Suzuki school student and continued in later years as a pupil of the Russian school of playing, which focuses on the motor skills of both hands, quality of sound (richness, colorfulness, purity), and the belief in full executive freedom in interpretation. Both before and after achieving her bachelor's degree in violin performance, Lisa traveled extensively with numerous orchestras and chamber groups performing abroad. She lived in California and worked as a freelance musician, taught private lessons and coached youth orchestra violin sections for The Community Youth Orchestra of Southern California while performing with The Golden State Pops Orchestra. She is the music librarian at a private school in Huntington and teaches all over Nassau County. Lisa is excited to share her love of music history, musical theater and all things musically dramatic with her students. We are excited to have Lisa return this year as the leader of our first violin section.

Rachel Viola has been a member of the North Shore Schools' music faculty for nine years, where she has taught elementary lessons, sixth grade orchestra and middle school chamber orchestra. She grew up on Long Island and received degrees in music education from Bucknell University and the Aaron Copland School of Music. Rachel plays violin and viola for the South Shore Symphony Orchestra and has also performed with the Nassau Pops. We are very pleased to have Rachel leading our second violin section.

Alexandra Calabro is primarily a violinist, although she plays various string instruments at a professional level. She has had extensive training in historical performance, chamber music, solo playing and orchestral repertoire. Alexandra maintains an active freelance career on Long Island and the metropolitan area as an artist and teacher. She is currently the leader of the baroque trio 4&20 Strings, as well as the Elemental Quartet. Alexandra will be leading the second violin section this summer for Rachel Viola, who recently had a baby boy!

Josh Epstein is an improvisational cellist and teacher based on Long Island. As a classically trained musician, he has attended the Killington Music Festival, NYSSSA, and the C.W. Post Chamber music festival, receiving the Rex Chao Memorial Award from the latter.  He has performed in esteemed venues such as Carnegie Hall, NJPAC, and SPAC, as well as in eastern Europe and Argentina. While earning his degree in Performance at the SUNY Fredonia School of Music, he found a deep love for free improvisation, and continues to play and teach improvisation on Long Island. This will be Josh's fifth season teaching cello at the Festival.

Max Naftol played bass throughout elementary, middle and high school in the Plainview School District, studying as a private student with Matthew Schneider. In May, he graduated from Brown University, where he served as the university’s Principal Bassist. This summer, Max is looking forward to teaching bass again at the Festival and to touring England with his band Strawberry Generation!

Kristin Sette was the Principal Violist of her high school chamber orchestra, pit orchestra and string ensemble. In addition, she has performed as a violist with the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra, LISFA, the SCMEA All County Orchestra and has volunteered as a viola tutor. Kristin has a wonderfully approachable manner with children and is looking forward to her fifth season as an assistant teacher at the Festival. All of us at the Festival are very proud of Kristin's full merit scholarship to SUNY Stonybrook where she will be a sophomore in September

Vito Pizzicarola was a violinist in the H Frank Cary High School string ensemble, pit orchestra and chamber orchestra. He volunteered his time to work with struggling students and is looking forward to working with students again this year at the Festival as an assistant teacher. In the fall, Vito will begin pursuing a degree in music education at SUNY Fredonia.

Erin Stanton played the violin in the North Shore School District from third grade through her senior year of high school, participating in NYSSMA and concerts every year. As a high school senior, Erin was given the Student of the Month Award in Performing Arts for her role in the orchestral ensemble. She is excited to play the violin at the University of Maryland, College Park, where she will be a sophomore in the fall. We are happy to have Erin at the Festival this year as an assistant teacher.


Festival Photos

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