Piano, Voice & Guitar
Miriam Morales has been playing the piano for over 25 years and enjoys playing other instruments as well. Miriam started studying piano with Rebekah Branham at an early age who saw a deep love of music in Miriam and recommended she study further.
She attended W. E. Greiner Exploratory Arts Academy in middle school and continued on to become a graduate of Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas. During this time she studied classical piano under the direction of Eva Flowers, Gabriel Sanchez and jazz piano from Kent Ellingson & Roger Boykin.
She holds a Bachelor of Music Media with an emphasis in Piano Performance from the University of Texas at Arlington. Miriam also holds a Masters Degree from Dallas Theological Seminary in Biblical and Theological Studies where she also enjoyed classes in the Media Arts & Worship department.
Miriam has been teaching music for 10 years in both group and one-on-one settings. She has taught for multiple music studios and non-profit organizations in the DFW area including the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Dallas, Big Thought, Junior Players and Arts Net.
She has served as the pianist for several churches in the DFW area and continues to perform for weddings, corporate events and private parties. She enjoys writing worship songs and playing solo jazz piano and singing.
Currently she is the Executive Director for New Song Music Academy which has equipped over 200 students to play music they truly enjoy. She believes that anyone can become a lifelong musician regardless of their profession.
Juan Duran CHaNG
artist in residencE
PIANO, VIOLA & VIOLIN
Juan Felipe Duran Chang was born in Barquisimeto, Venezuela. His parents had a high standard of promoting knowledge in science, art and music from an early age.
He began studying piano and viola under the direction of Blanca Pulido, at the age of 4. He continued his piano studies at the Vicente Emilio Sojo Conservatory of Music where he studied piano with Maestro Omar Gómez,Dr. Alejandra Sánchez and privately with Ingrid Algarra.
In addition, he was learning viola under the guidance of Professor Mari Gil, Maestro Pedro Vargas and Maestro José Guillermo Fuentes. He entered El Sistema, a national music education program, where he performed Gustav Mahler's second symphony under the direction of Gustavo Dudamel. He has participated in multiple master classes to develop his orchestral skills.
He is a graduate of the U. E. N. San Francisco Javier and the U. E. Colegio Ilustre Americano in science. He holds bachelors degrees in Mathematics from the Universidad Centroccidental Lisandro Alvarado and Music from the Vicente Emilio Sojo Conservatory of Music.
In 2015 he served as the conductor of the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra and an orchestral and viola coach. He currently studies viola under Ellen Rose (principal violist for the Dallas Symphony 25+ years) and serves as the Artist in Residence for New Song Music Academy where he teaches piano, viola, violin and cello including group ensembles. While in this role, Juan has supported faculty and students by playing accompaniment on the viola, violin, and piano, as well as performed masterpieces by Bach, Glazunov, and Hoffmeister.
Coco Keying Xu
Voice & piano Instructor
Dr. Coco Keying Xu was born and raised in Shenzhen, China, and came to the United States at the age of 18 to pursue higher education. She has just received her Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Voice Performance, studying under Dr. Paul Houghtaling at the University of Alabama. Dr. Xu also holds two Bachelor's degrees in Spanish and Communication from the University of Cincinnati, a Master's degree in Voice Performance studying under Dr. Christopher Meerdink, and a minor in Piano under Dr. Choong-ha Nam from West Texas A&M University.
Dr. Xu began piano lessons at the age of 10 and voice lessons at 13. She has taught piano and voice for 5 years. Her enduring belief that music is an integral part of her life fuels her passion for teaching, motivating her to share her knowledge and help students of all ages, fostering mutual growth as musicians. Besides her teaching role, Dr. Xu's versatility shines through as a mezzo-soprano. She has performed Oratorios in churches across the US and Italy, sung in various church choirs, contributed her voice to opera ensembles, directed opera scenes, and collaborated with Jazz bands.
Among her experiences, her main passions are opera and art songs. She has performed in operas, opera scenes, and musical theater such as Zita in Gianni Schicchi, Inez in The Gondoliers, Goffredo from Rinaldo, Bradamante from Alcina, Zweite Dame from Die Zauberflöte, Dater #32 Hiker from Speed Dating Tonight, Dorabella from Così Fan Tutte, Carmen from Carmen, Maddalena from Rigoletto, and Cornelia from Giulio Cesare with University of Alabama Opera Theatre, Red River Lyric Opera, WTAMU Opera, Amarillo Opera, Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival, and Opera Viva. She is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) and the National Opera Association (NOA). Throughout her recitals and concerts, she has performed opera arias and art songs in Chinese, English, Italian, German, French, Latin, Spanish, Russian, and Swedish. Her doctoral dissertation focuses on art songs by Catalan composers, as Spanish literature and culture are among her proudest areas of promotion in her undergraduate studies. She also recently won an award as a finalist in the International Day of Latin American & Iberian Art Song competition.
PIANO & VOice
North Texas native Kevin Hawkins is a singer, songwriter and musician born and raised in the city of Lancaster, just outside of Dallas.
Kevin studied music education and vocal performance at the prestigious University of North Texas college of music. He studied under Dr. Stephen Morscheck and Alan McClung and performed repertoire such as Giuseppe Giordani’s Caro mio ben, Christoph Willibald Gluck’s O del mio dolce, Franz Schubert’s The Erlkönig, and Ralph Vaughan Williams’ The Vagabond.
He has also sung background for artists such as KeKe Wyatt and Mario and has opened for Dallas legend Erykah Badu as well as K. Michelle. Kevin has been featured in D Magazine, Dallas Observer, LA Times, E News, and NBC Insider just to name a few. In 2017 Kevin was the featured artist in Klyde Warren Park’s Summer Artists Series and headlined the 44th Harambee Festival. Kevin has also had the privilege of being on tour with Oprah Winfrey in 2020 and now he is currently on season 22 of THE VOICE.
Kevin still has a love and passion for teaching as he continues it to this day, in addition to performing. What keeps him coming back to teaching music is the light in his students’ eyes when they have enjoyed learning something new and want to continue growing as a musician. His motto is no student is too young or too old to learn; he teaches from the age of 2 to 92!
Operations & Hiring Coordinator
Kara Smith grew up learning music all across the United States, studying under many instructors across the country including Michael Johnson, Jason Roy and cellist Lindsey Smith-Trostle. She has performed with the Sparkling Keys and Strings orchestra under the direction of Simone Parker and has served in worship as the pianist and cellist for numerous churches.
Kara has a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities with a Piano Performance focus from Thomas Edison State University where she studied under Sheila Threlfall and performed Mozart’s Sonata K. 283, Bach’s Praeludium VI, BWV 875 and Rachmaninoff’s Elegie, Op. 3, No. 1. She has performed at venues such as APSU Mabry Concert Hall, as well as for private parties and special events.
She graduated with a Masters of Arts in Media Arts and Worship from Dallas Theological Seminary with an emphasis in culture and theology.
Kara has over twenty years of experience in piano and has taught piano, ukulele, and beginner cello with music studios in Washington D.C., Dallas, TX., and Fayetteville, N.C. She enjoys teaching students of all ages and delights to watch students grow in their skill and enjoyment of their instrument.
voice & piano
Candice attended the University of Denver Lamont Conservatory for jazz and commercial music studies in vocal performance. She has taught privately as well as consulted for theater companies, school districts and chorales.
Her love of people and community led her to develop an early childhood neurologically based foundational music program with the local health and human services department. She has shared the stage with world-renowned musicians such as Bobby McFerrin, Tan Dun, Eric Whitacre, Peter Eldrige, and a capella group M-Pact. Her jazz career gave her the fortune to receive mentorship and education from many artists such as Britt Quentin, Sunny Wilkinson, Paul Falk, Kate McGarry, Greg Jasperse and more. Guest director for musical theater, Candice has led productions with Magic Circle Players, Wright Opera House, Sherbino Theater, Weehawken Arts, Montrose High School and Valley Symphony Orchestra and Jazz Bands.
Candice has been a member of the worship team at Grace Community Church in her hometown, Ridgway Community Church and Parker Bible Church for vocals and keys. In 2012, Candice led Montrose High School to the ICHSA nationals competition for a capella in Flower Mound, Texas. In her free time, Candice loves to be outdoors with her daughter and their border collie. She has recently relocated from beautiful Colorado to the Dallas area and is looking forward to sharing her musical knowledge with her students.
VOICE & PIANO
By joining the New Song Music Academy, Sandra brings in a multitude of assets and skills which were acquired through her international and diversified upbringing. Born in France, educated in Lebanon, and well-acquainted with multi-cultural settings, she sets her mission to give back to the next generation and help form new musicians.
From an early age, her pianist mother instilled in her and her four siblings a passion for music. Sandra took piano and solfege lessons at the Lebanese National Higher Conservatory of Music for 7 years, which she followed up with 3 years of church choir experience. Her performances ranged vastly from classical piano to contemporary vocal pieces including repertoire such as Beethoven's Piano Sonata in C sharp minor, op. 27 no. 2 'Moonlight', Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier Prelude and Fugue no. 1 in C major, Bruno Mars' When I was Your Man, and Gnarls Barkley's Crazy.
Sandra's love for music, coupled with her passion for teaching, have inspired her to embark on a journey of giving back in the form of private piano lessons in Richardson and Dallas, which she enjoys tremendously. Sandra teaches from a belief that music is an important means of expression that goes beyond any culture or language differences. Her ultimate goal is to shape educationally well-rounded individuals so that they can easily express themselves through music.
Sandra holds a Degree in Dental Surgery as well as in Orthodontics and Epidemiology. She likes to spend her spare time reading, exploring new scientific topics, and contributing to the community through volunteering. She strives to continuously offer her best in everything she endeavors.
Piano & Drums
Victor Piantanida started playing drums at age 11 and quickly progressed in skill throughout his early years. He earned a bachelor’s degree in percussion performance from Belhaven University (Jackson, MS). Victor has experience in traditional jazz, be-bop, fusion, pop, funk, rock, country, and is most known for his modern worship drumming.
He has played with Thomas “Tiger” Rogers, Michael Adkins, Jacob Lowery, and many others. He is currently the drummer for the worship group, “CHANEY”, and independent artist, “Tyler Hook”.
Along with drumming, Victor is also an accomplished soundtrack composer. He is known for his original music on PBS Artbound’s episode, “Deitch”, and the Emmy award winning documentary, “Fertile Ground”.
Victor has been teaching for over 9 years. He delights in sharing the enjoyment of music with others, especially getting to watch them understand concepts and grow as musicians in their own right. Though he would enjoy spending all his time on something musical, his other hobbies include playing with his dog, Charlie, or working outdoors.
Piano & Violin
Rafael Valdez has been playing the violin and piano for over 15+ years. He is originally from Mexico and was raised in Tyler, Texas and he is both fluent in English and Spanish. While attending John Tyler High School, Rafael was the first chair violinist in the orchestra and earned top marks at solo and ensemble competitions for both his junior and senior years.
He is a graduate of Tyler Junior College, where he earned a double degree in Business and Music under the direction of Charles Praytor and Shane Almendarez. While there, he performed Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier Prelude and Fugue No. 1 in C major, Beethoven Sonata No. 4 in E flat major, Mendelssohn Scherzo Op. 16, No. 2, and Alberto Ginastera’s & Danzas Argentinas. He was also involved in string quartets, orchestras, jazz bands, and piano duets. Rafael was awarded a scholarship at the University of Texas in Arlington, where he is currently pursuing a Bachelors of Music in Piano Performance under the direction Dr. John Solomons and Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s pianist, Gabriel Sanchez.
Rafael has served in several churches as a pianist and worship leader. He enjoys teaching and helping churches establish a strong worship team and sharing his passion for church music. He is constantly learning and growing in all areas of his musicianship including voice and bass guitar. Rafael is confident that anyone who has the desire can learn how to play an instrument if they are willing to put in the time and dedication to practice. Rafael enjoys teaching students of all ages and hopes through each lesson and interaction to transmit joy, love, and positivity.