For Paola Plano, a love of music runs in her family. Her grandfather was a professional musician who played the clarinet, and her father always listened to classical music. Growing up in Italy, she listened to an old recording of Claudio Arrau every day with her grandfather and parents. When she was 7, her parents decided it was time for Paola to start piano lessons.
Paola’s interest in the piano blossomed into a “real passion” after auditioning to take lessons with Maria Golia in Turin, Italy. “I remember her passion while teaching or talking about music. She is the one who really changed my life. Since then, I’ve never imagined a different future for myself,” she says, noting that she made her debut at age 9 at the Teatro Juvarra in Turin.
In college, Paola earned her degree in piano performance at the Nino Rota Conservatory in Italy and participated in master classes organized with the Ecole Normale de Musique “A. Cortot” in Paris. She studied with talented pianists like Nelson Delle Vigne-Fabbri, Boaz Sharon, Eianr Steen Nokleber, and Ian Hobson.
Her teaching career began 20 years ago at a private music school in Italy before Paola and her husband, pianist Roberto Plano, founded their own piano academy. Their preparatory school offered advanced courses and organized festivals, master classes, lectures, and an international piano competition.
In 2012 and 2013, Paola toured with the show “Chou-Chou,” which she wrote as a tribute to the composer Claude Debussy and the fantastic world of children. She performed in Belgium, France, Italy, the U.S., and Canada. She also worked as an artistic director and music critic for several recording companies, including Decca, Amadeus, Brilliant Classics, and Movimento Classical.
More recently, the couple moved to the U.S. and Paola taught piano pedagogy at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. She says, “Even though I loved working with college students, I always missed my younger students. Working with precollege students has always been my greatest passion and that’s why I decided to look for a preparatory school where I could really express myself.”
Having lived in Boston before moving to Indiana, Paola and Roberto knew of The Rivers School Conservatory’s reputation for musical excellence. “I was looking for a place with lots of opportunities for students and I found it! Even though my husband is still part of the piano faculty at Indiana University, we now live in the Boston area with our three daughters,” she says.
At RSC, Paola’s priority as a piano teacher is to help students become “independent musicians.” She explains, “Teaching is my big passion, and my goal is to make the study of piano engaging, fulfilling, and fun, and at the same time focusing on good communication with both students and parents. Every lesson is an opportunity to enhance and expand important skills in my students. Patience, confidence, and joy are key words!”
She particularly enjoys the opportunities for student coaching and performances at RSC. “The workshops and recitals are extremely important for both teachers and students,” explains Paola.
When she’s not teaching, Paola is performing and writing. She and Roberto recently recorded a CD dedicated to the 4 hands music by E. Grieg, which will be released in 2022 by Brilliant Classics. She also published her first novel, L’Opera 108, for Zecchini Editore, an Italian publisher for classical music. The book is inspired by the Sonata for Violin and Piano op. 108 by Brahms, and her next performances will be related to the book and the CD.
“I love music, and I have this desire to talk about music,” she explains. “I started writing novels about music where the main characters are musicians as a way to connect with people and share something about our job. I enjoy establishing relationships with audiences and sharing my passion for music in different ways.”
-By Meghan Laska