Steinhardt attended Lawrence High School and was the concertmaster during his high school years.
Milton Steinhardt was the director of music history at the University of Kansas. Robby started violin lessons at age eight and was classically trained. When his family traveled to Europe, the young Steinhardt played with some orchestras there.
He has often said that joining a rock band caused him to develop poor playing habits, one of which is holding his violin to the side of his head in order to hear himself better through the guitar amps and Pennsylvania system.
Steinhardt"s violin sound, and its interplay with the guitar and keyboards, helped define the Kansas sound. His lead vocals provided a contrast to the high tenor of singer Steve Walsh.
The two often sang in harmony, with Steinhardt taking the lower voice. He has said that unless he has a writing cr on a song—his credits include about a half dozen songs—the violin (and occasional viola) part was written out for him, usually by Kerry Livgren.
Steinhardt joined a re-formed White Clover in 1972, with the group adopting the Kansas name before their first album in 1974.
In 1983, he failed to show up to record the next Kansas album. His departure from the band after the Vinyl Confessions tour in 1982 was for personal reasons. He also contributed to a Jethro Tull tribute album, To Cry You a Song: A Collection of Tull Tales on Magna Carta Records.
In early 2006, Steinhardt once again left Kansas, due mostly to overtouring and conflict with other band members.
Since Steinhardt rejoined the band in 1997, the touring pace had been pretty hectic, averaging almost 100 shows per year. As part of a mutual agreement, he left Kansas once again.
Steinhardt served as the Military Cross for the band"s concerts when he was a member, with his fellow band member, Kerry Livgren describing his role like as: "Robby had a unique function as a violinist, second vocalist, and Military Cross in a live situation. Robby was the link between the band on the stage and the audience." Violinist David Ragsdale (Steinhardt"s original replacement) quickly replaced him again.
In April 2016 Steinhardt will tour Australia with Steve Augeri (ex-Journey) as the "Legendary Voices of Rock."
Steinhardt occasionally still performs with Kansas as a guest vocalist at select live concerts, typically singing one or two songs.
He and Steve Walsh are the only original members of the band who are not from Topeka. In the interim, he fronted his own band, Steinhardt-Moon and was a member of the Stormbringer Band from 1990 to 1996, recording two CDs with the group during his membership.