Pianist Imports European-Style Teaching
Park Cities School of Music will celebrate its fifth anniversary in September. But its owner and operator started her music career much earlier — about twenty years before she ever stepped foot in Texas.
Eva Brandys described the day she landed in Dallas as a characteristically scorching August day. It was 1995, and she had traveled from Poland with $100, two suitcases, and one piece of advice: take one of the blue shuttles. They’re cheaper.
She spent half of her money on that shuttle, which took her to Dallas Baptist University where she had a full scholarship to study piano.
Brandys was born in Poland in 1975 when the country was under communist rule. Back then, she said, children were evaluated for different talents. If they exhibited enough talent, they were allowed to study the arts.
“They look at musical capabilities, so they decided that music would be best for me. I was assigned to play the piano. I could not even choose the instrument I wanted to play,” she said.
Over the next several years, Brandys received intense training. She studied music theory, music history, and musicianship, and was practicing eight hours a day by the end of her high school career.
“In Eastern European countries, when you study the arts, it’s your whole life and you train to be the best,” said Brandys.
That might explain why, when the Polish borders opened in 1989, people came from Western Europe and the U.S. to hold auditions for artists. It was one of these auditions that eventually brought her to America.
Brandys auditioned for Dallas Baptist University, “For the heck of it and for fun,” she said. Soon after, she received a letter of acceptance and student visa documents. She watched a couple of episodes of Dallas to find out what her new home was all about.
Brandys spent her first year at DBU learning English and four years later graduated with a bachelor’s degree. She went on to get a double master’s at SMU in piano performance and music education. After graduating, Brandys started teaching at Dallas Music in Snider Plaza.
“I was teaching full time at Dallas Music and full time on my own. That was pretty intense because it was seven days a week and eight hours a day,” said Brandys.
After five years at Dallas Music, she’d acquired 70 of her own students and a green card, so she decided to open a school of her own. Brandys appreciates the rigorous education she received in Poland, and looked for teachers who would share that kind of philosophy.
“We do have something good going on when it comes to musical training and musical education. All of that makes a young musician really great … so I was thinking we can have something like that here … but with love and with passion,” she said.
Brandys hired two or three teachers to start. The school has now grown to 19. They teach everything from voice to cello to percussion. More than 300 students, infants to adults, attend classes there.
Brandys now teaches only five students, on top of running the school and her newest endeavor, the Lakewood Conservatory of Fine Arts.
Twelve-year-old Hannah Howard, who has played piano since she was seven, has studied under Brandys for the past three months. In that short time, Howard says she’s been motivated to work hard and play with more passion.
“[Brandys] really challenges me but at the same time I have so much fun with her,” said Howard. “I’ve learned to play a lot more emotionally and powerfully.”
Brandys wants the school to have a reputation for molding well-rounded musicians. She wants to cultivate an appreciation for classical music, and teach her students that the music they love was made possible by composers from the 14th and 15th centuries.
“I feel like classical music or composition is almost dying away,” said Brandys. “Pop musicians would not be here today if not Bach, if not Beethoven, if not Chopin. Cultivating that tradition is really important.”