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 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.
Susan Kheshtinejad is a native Texas who began piano lessons at the age of three. She competed and excelled in many piano competitions and festivals and was named Dallas Senior Musician of the Year in 1974. Susan received a Bachelor of Music in Piano Pedagogy from Southern Methodist University under renown pedagogue Louise Bianchi and concert pianist, the legendary Alfred Mouledous. She continued her learning at Texas Christian University in performance, education, and received a certification in Secondary Music with a concentration in Coral Conducting. Susan maintained a private studio in Dallas for many years accompanying churches, soloists, and instrumentalists all over the DFW area. She found she has a gift for entertaining professionally and began to experiment with improvisation and study more pop and jazz styles, incorporating those styles into her teaching. “I am excited to be a part of a dynamic and creative music school!”
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.
Robin Hinkler is an arts and education professional with vast experience in teaching early childhood music. She is committed to making a positive difference in the world by enhancing children’s education with comprehensive, dynamic enrichment programs which include music, visual art and art history. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History from the University of Texas at Arlington and a Master of Liberal Arts from Southern Methodist University. Robin is a trained Montessori teacher who follows the child and is highly experienced in observing the individual child’s characteristics, innate talents and abilities. She has been a Lead Teacher and Director of several Montessori Academies since 1999. In addition, she is a certified Musikgarten teacher who especially enjoys working with young children. Robin has been honored with the privilege of consulting in her field.
When Robin is not teaching, she loves to run, cycle, and spend time with her amazing husband, 13 year old daughter, and adorable Yorkie.
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.
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.
Sandra Rodriquez received a Bachelor of Music degree in Violin Performance from the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico. During her senior year, she received the Ronald Reagan Presidential Award for Academic Excellence and the UNESCO Outstanding Youth Award. A passionate teacher, Sandra has had extensive experience teaching private and group Suzuki violin for over 20 years. She has registered Suzuki training for Suzuki violin books 1A through Level 8, Advanced Group Violin Techniques, and El Sistema Training. From 2010 – 2018, Sandra served as the Section Leader of the Puerto Rico Symphony as well as the Educational programs Director. Sandra and her husband and son recently relocated to the Dallas area.