Rachel Panitch founded and directs Rhode Island Fiddle Project, a free music program based in the Woodlawn neighborhood of Pawtucket, RI, teaching traditional fiddle and dance music to students ages 7-17. In 2009, Rachel completed a two-year Urban Musical Fellowship at Community MusicWorks in Providence, RI, which inspired and incubated RI Fiddle Project. She initiated and continues to direct Community MusicWorks’ Summer Camp.
Rachel is an active contra dance fiddler who has recorded with a number of folk/roots bands including the Bourbon Boys, Tallahassee, Morris and the East Coast. She has collaborated recently with Bill Harley and with Neha Jiwrajka. Rachel’s fiddling was part of the Emmy-nominated soundtrack for the 2009 PBS documentary “The Mosque in Morgantown.”
A graduate of Vassar College, Rachel completed work in Anthropology and Music focusing on aural learning in folk music communities and the documentation of early American fiddle music. Rachel received her Masters of Music in Contemporary Improvisation from New England Conservatory in May 2013. She has studied with Carla Kihlstedt, Hankus Netsky, Nicholas Kitchen and Tanya Kalmanovitch.
Michelle Kaminsky, Fiddler-in-Residence, started on the violin at age 9, and continued her classical studies through high school. In high school she discovered New England country dancing, and fiddle music, and has been hooked ever since, learning from other fiddle players for the last thirty years. Since then, playing Cajun and New England dance music, Michelle has played in many bands and currently performs with Magnolia, and French Roast. Known for her flexible teaching style, patience, and inspiring a love of music in her students, she has been teaching music and fiddle to children and adults for over twenty-five years. Combining her background in classical violin with familiar folk songs to teach good technique, her goal is to give students a good foundation for whatever direction they go in music. Michelle has taught music at Montessori schools, many early childhood centers, as well as leading arts-in-education residencies about Traditional American Fiddle and Dance and has had the honor of teaching fiddle as a master for the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA). She is the director of Cajun Kids Academy at the Rhythm and Roots Festival held every Labor Day weekend in Charlestown, RI. In the summer, she also directs 2 music camps for children, as well as teaching Cajun fiddle for adults at the Augusta Heritage Center in West Virginia. Michelle has a degree in elementary education, specializing in early childhood music. She is certified in Level 1 Orff, Early Childhood Kodaly and Music Together, as well as having studied the Suzuki method.