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Name That Tune: Riana Pliskin

Pooja Salhotra
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Riana Pliskin

Riana Pliskin, 11, has been around music since she was born.  

This week’s Name That Tune features our youngest participant yet: Riana Pliskin. Don’t let her small size fool you, though. Riana is a fireball of energy who has been around music since she was born. She has a trained musical ear and a passion for exploring all genres and styles. Read on for excerpts from our interview with Riana. 

Age: 11 
Profession: Just completed 5th grade at Annunciation Orthodox School; Rising 6th grader at The Kinkaid School 
Instrument: Piano

How long have you been playing the piano?

I’ve been playing since I was 3 or 4. I’ve grown up around music. My dad is a violinist – he even studied it in college – and my grandmother has a school in San Antonio called European Piano Academy. I remember sitting down and watching her play … she would say to me okay, play C and then play D. She’d maneuver my fingers around the piano to make a tune. 

So you’ve been playing a long time. How have the past few months been for you while in quarantine? Has that affected your piano practice at all? 

My sister plays the violin, and she’s kind of learned a little bit of piano while I was playing. We’ve never really played together, but during the quarantine, my sister has been practicing a lot. So we started studying together with my piano teacher and learning pieces together. We’ve been doing [our lessons] on a screen, but I feel like quarantine has given me the benefit of having all this time to play and to really explore more music and put more time into it. 

How did you decide to play an Elton John song for Name That Tune? 

I picked it out. We have this thing called Musical Countdown at AOS. You’re given a whole list of music, and the more music you listen too – of different genres and composers – the more medals you get. That really introduced me to different genres and people who I knew but I never really listened to, like Billy Joel and Elton John. I just really fell in love with their music. 

And then I was like wait a minute. Maybe I can play this on the piano!

What is your favorite part about playing the piano?  

I really like after you finish a piece – it’s the ultimate satisfaction. You can just play and enjoy. Your fingers know everything. It’s amazing, it’s like another language. You have the piece at the beginning and then you start playing it faster and adding dynamics. You build and build and build and you experience it in such a way that’s so amazing. 

How much do you typically practice per week? 

During the school-year, it’s kind of a balance between dance [Riana is a dancer with the Houston Ballet Academy] and outdoor hobbies and school and piano. Ideally, it’s 30 minutes a day, but it’s not always that much. Once I start playing though, I get so excited. I’m like, okay, it’s practice time. I run to the piano and call my grandma. [Riana’s grandmother helps her practice via the phone.] 

What do you see for your future, Riana? 

I think for me, I have a lot of passions, and I really would love to do something to do with the combination of music and dance. I feel like it’s so powerful. I’d also like to travel the world and explore and try new foods and do photography. I also love poetry and writing … I think I’d want to be a journalist, or writer or dancer. 

Well, with your passion and talent, you’ll certainly have a lot of options! 

Editor's note: See more Name That Tune Q&As and videos here. Play an instrument and interested in submitting a video? Contact us at [email protected]

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