By Jennifer Lindgren

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Eva Brandys sits at the grand piano, playing a heartfelt, dramatic melody. As her hands glide over the keys, she closes her eyes.

There is memory and emotion in the music.

“When I write, I pour in my soul, my heart,” she says.

Brandys, the owner and co-founder of the Lakewood Conservatory of Fine Arts, and the owner and founder of the Park Cities School of Music, has lived a life enriched by music.

“There are sad moments, because life is sad sometimes. There are also happy moments. I put those emotions in the keys,” she says.

Brandys was born in communist-era Poland, and began taking piano lessons at age eight.

When she tried out for the music school, the administrators assigned her the piano. By the time she was a teenager, she was practicing up to 12 hours a day. The teachers were strict, and the classroom didn’t have heat. She remembers playing until her fingers bled.

“I remember I was leaving crying, always crying. I had very little goals. The goal was just to have a warmer room to practice,” Brandys recalls.

Despite the discipline, she loved playing piano – especially classical pieces.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain, western universities began arriving in Poland to audition talent. A friend of hers encouraged Eva to try out, for fun.

With her parents’ encouragement, she did; and she received a letter of acceptance from Dallas Baptist University.

“Dallas. I’m like, ‘Okay, Dallas! Where is it? Let me look at a map!’ ” she says with a laugh.

Not knowing a word of English, Brandys flew to Dallas in 1995, and found her way to the university. Her undergraduate studies at DBU led to a graduate program at Southern Methodist University. Soon after, she began teaching lessons. Brandys says she took the best of what she’d learned in Poland and applied it to her students, with a gentle hand.

“I started to believe in myself when I came to Texas,” Brandys says.

Twenty years later, she’s founded two successful music schools in Dallas, helping to shape hundreds of young musicians over the years.

Musicians of all abilities learn from the teachers at the Park Cities School of Music, which Brandys opened in 2011. Some of the students go on to attend performing arts high schools and colleges. The school also offers programs for children with special needs.

“We just kind of tested the waters, and he’s fallen in love with it,” says Sakeena Cavanar, the mother of a child on the autism spectrum. “I think it really helps bring out his personality. It’s exciting to see him do that.”

At the Lakewood Conservatory of Fine Arts, which opened in February of 2016, dance and fine art programs are part of the curriculum, along with music.

Brandys also partners with Music Is Our Weapon. The non-profit goes to senior facilities to work with Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, connecting them to memories though music.

“Every song has a story,” she says.

Brandys recently composed her own classical music album and released a CD. There aren’t any words to her music, but she hopes to write lyrics one day.

The songs on her album make up her life story: the good and bad, sad and happy, challenges and accomplishments. She hopes it resonates with those who listen.

“I hope when the listener listens to it, they can be attached, and put their own story to the music they hear,” Brandys says.

Jennifer Lindgren