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About ROCmusic

ROCmusic offers tuition-free classical music instruction and instrument lessons to students in grades 1-12 who reside in the city of Rochester, NY. No previous musical experience or training is required and there is no charge for instruments, participation, or instruction. The program takes place in downtown Rochester, NY at the David F. Gantt R-Center and Edgerton R-Center.

Each student in the program receives:

  • Instruction in singing and reading music
  • Lessons on instruments, including recorders, dulcimers, and bowed strings
  • Music classes, ensemble rehearsals, and concert participation
  • All necessary music books and materials
  • Snack, dinner, and field trip participation
  • Full scholarship to participate in all ROCmusic activities, free of charge!

Founded in 2012, ROCmusic is a non-profit tuition-free after-school collaborative inspired by Venezuela’s “El Sistema” program, which produced internationally renowned conductor Gustavo Dudamel. El Sistema is “a set of inspiring ideals which inform an intensive youth music program that seeks to effect social change through the ambitious pursuit of musical excellence. El Sistema focuses primarily on children with the fewest resources and greatest need.”

Every gift made to the ROCmusic fund is a deductible donation that directly benefits student scholarships and our organization’s operational cost. Click here to make a donation. Thank you for your support!

For more information, visit the ROCmusic website, and like ROCmusic on Facebook!

For more information on the ROCmusic teaching artists, visit this page on the ROCmusic website.

ROCmusic is a partnership between The Hochstein School, Eastman School of Music (University of Rochester), Eastman Community Music School, Gateways Music Festival, City of Rochester, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Rochester City School District.



ROCmusic in the News

Transforming Lives Through Music - a video by the University of Rochester:



Democrat & Chronicle feature from April 2016 about ROCmusic’s collaboration with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.



RPO blog about ROCmusic students performing with the RPO in 2016 Around the Town concerts.

2014 interview with Alexander Peña, Director of ROCmusic, talking about the program on WXXI’s City 12 TV ‘CityWise’ (scroll to 12:00 mark):

2012 press release about the start of the program, funded by a $100,000 seed grant from the Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation.

ROCmusic Executive & Artistic Director Rachel Mills

ROCmusic has named Rachel Mills as its new Executive and Artistic Director as of July 2022. Mills joined the ROCmusic faculty in January 2019 as lead cello teaching artist, arriving with a diverse background of music education and performance experience. Since then, the cello program has expanded to include both a beginner and intermediate track and has successfully produced an annual Cello Day serving the Greater Rochester community. In addition, Mills has been on the cello faculty at The Hochstein School since 2019.

Mills received a bachelor’s degree in cello performance from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and continued higher education studies at the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague in the Netherlands. A native of Rochester, NY, Mills grew up through Hochstein’s honors certificate program.

To read the full press release, click here.