Meet the Kawai School of Music Faculty

The faculty at the Kawai School of Music are experienced teachers and acclaimed performers. They each hold advanced degrees from some of the world’s most prestigious music institutions and are dedicated to educating and empowering each student toward achieving their goals.

Amanda Byars

Amanda Byars is an independent music educator specializing in group and private instruction for children and adults in Dallas, Texas. Prior to establishing Piano In Your Home, she served on the faculty at Southern Methodist University as Lecturer in Piano Pedagogy and Coordinator of Class Piano. She was also co-founder and teacher of piano at Dallas/Music – a performing arts center located in the Park Cities.

Ms. Byars received a Bachelor of Music in piano performance from Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina and the Master of Music in piano pedagogy from S.M.U. where she was a teaching assistant for the internationally renowned pedagogue, Louise Bianchi

Maria Rincon Hernandez

A native of Maracaibo, Venezuela, Maria received her Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance from the University of South Carolina where she studied piano pedagogy under nationally renown pedagogue, Dr. Sara Ernst.  While there, she taught both group and private lessons at the Center for Piano Studies and was an associate at the Southeastern Piano Festival.  Maria is currently pursuing a Master of Music degree in Piano Performance at Southern Methodist University under Dr. Carol Leone.  Maria writes “I love teaching and am thrilled beyond words to be a part of the Kawai School of Music and the educational and performance opportunities it offers.”  She spends her spare time painting, watching international movies and learning Mandarin.

Seth Thomas

Seth Thomas has been playing piano since the age of 7.  He competed in festivals hosted by the National Federation of Music Clubs and the Texas Federation of Music Clubs, receiving the highest ratings and winning the “All-State Musician” award three times.  He holds a Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance (magna cum laude) from the University of Texas at Tyler where he studied with Vicki Conway and a Master of Music degree in piano performance from Cleveland State University under the instruction of Dr. Angelin Chang and Ms. Joela Jones.  His teaching philosophy is based on helping students find and develop their musical voice.  When not teaching piano, Mr. Thomas owns and operates a cake business, where he bakes and decorates gourmet special occasion cakes.  To relax, he enjoys cooking, reading and spending time with his 14 nieces and nephews.


Jin Ah Kwon

A talented musician with a rich sound and a sensitive touch, pianist JinAh Kwon, a native of Korea, began playing the piano at the age of five. During her youth, JinAh earned acclamations as the winner in the 1996, 1997, 1998 National Piano Competition in Korea, 2001 Ge Cheon Art Competition, 2001 National Piano Competition in Gyeong Sang Province, and 2001 Seo-Gyeong Newspaper competition.

During her undergraduate study at Seoul National University, the top university in Korea, Jin Ah was the prizewinner in both 2004 Korean Society Piano Competition and 2005 Young San art Hall Competition. After a successful debut with the Russia-Tombov Philharmonic Orchestra in 2006 performing Grieg Piano Concerto Op.16, JinAh made her debut performing at different venues, including the Seoul Art Center, Buam Art Hall, E-Won Art Center, and Seoul National University’s Concert Hall.


Kahoru Amano

A native of Japan, Kahoru Amano received her Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from the University of Texas at Austin where she was a student of the acclaimed concert pianist, Anton Nel.  Highlights include winning 1st prize in the Nilsson Undergraduate Solo Piano Competition, Music Teachers National Kentucky State Solo Competition, and receiving the Presidential Award for Academic Excellence.  Kahoru has studied piano pedagogy (the art and science of how to teach piano successfully) under Sophia Gilmson and continues to broaden her teaching experience as a teacher at the acclaimed Piano Preparatory Department under Dr. Catherine Lysinger at SMU.

Cathy Williams Hargrave

Cathy Williams Hargrave, a native of Louisville, Kentucky, is a well-known Suzuki Piano Teacher and Teacher Trainer recognized by the Suzuki Association of the Americas and the European Suzuki Association. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Louisville and a Master of Music degree from Butler University in Piano Performance. She has served as a faculty member of the preparatory music department at the University of Louisville, Butler University, and was the founding president of a community music school in Crestwood, KY called Talent Education for Children.

In 1983 and 1988 – 1991, Ms. Hargrave moved to Matsumoto, Japan, entered the teacher training program of the Talent Education Institute (home of the Suzuki Method) and received her Suzuki Piano Teaching Diploma from Dr. Shinichi Suzuki. She also studied the Suzuki Piano Method with its co-author Dr. Haruko Kataoka, served as accompanist for Dr. Suzuki’s students and teacher trainees in weekly concerts, national and international conferences, and continued study with Dr. Kataoka until her death in 2004.

As a clinician, Ms. Hargrave has conducted numerous seminars and workshops for students and teachers across the United States and in Canada, Europe, and Russia. Her goal is to help parents and teachers discover the true purpose of the Suzuki philosophy, which is to raise children to become fine human beings through the study of a musical instrument. She writes: “I am thrilled to be a part of this music school and the great things we will all accomplish!”