Rhona Gouldson-Chen is a true Renaissance woman, with talents that extend far beyond her skills as a pianist. This talented Dubliner got her start in music at TU Dublin Conservatory of Music & Drama, studying with top teachers Mairead Hurley, Dr. Mary Lennon, Mr. Frank Heneghan, Nancy Calthorpe and Dr. Joseph Groocock. Thanks to her hard work and dedication, she earned a continuous scholarship throughout her time at the conservatory and was a frequent prize-winner at the Feis Ceoil and Fr. Mathew Feis. She’s also had the chance to perform and collaborate with other talented musicians internationally, and serves as a collaborative pianist at schools and various music festivals.
Ms Gouldson-Chen’s exceptional musical abilities were recognised when she earned the Peter Killian medal for the top Leaving Certificate in Music in all of Ireland. And when she enrolled at Trinity College Dublin, her exceptional abilities earned her the Taylor Exhibition, a two-year scholarship for attaining a perfect score on their entrance aural test – a feat that had never before been accomplished in the University’s history. It’s no surprise that Trinity College Dublin later invited her back to lead the aural training program in the Masters in Multimedia program.
Inspired by her desire to share the enriching and transformative power of music, Rhona has found great joy in teaching students of all ages, abilities, and skill levels. She’s been employed by the esteemed Leeson Park School of Music (where she served as Head of Piano) and has also had the privilege of teaching at TU Dublin Conservatory of Music. Her approach to teaching incorporates all the senses and focuses on helping students fully understand and bring to life the composer’s intentions by breaking down the music and teaching efficient practice. She’s passionate about instilling a love and appreciation for great music and building confidence in her students, all while helping them play with ease. Ms Gouldson-Chen holds a Licentiate Diploma from Trinity College London and is a member of both EPTA Ireland and MTNA, USA. Her students are often prize-winners in competitions and high-achievers in exams, making her a highly sought-after teacher.
With a fierce love for the piano and a dedication to spreading musical knowledge, Rhona founded the Piano Academy of Ireland (formerly Rathgar Piano) in 2006. Her mission was to help people from all walks of life “Discover the Musician Within,” and her efforts earned her a spot on RTE’s Nationwide. In 2008, she and her husband Dr. Archie Chen founded the National Piano Festival, a celebration of all things piano that invites players of all ages and abilities to perform and receive professional feedback. The annual Festival now includes a Limerick writing Contest, taking place surrounding the St Patrick’s day festivities and is open to budding writers from all over the world. And in 2013, they upped the ante with the Dublin International Piano Festival & Summer Academy, a ten-day extravaganza featuring a concert series and top-notch international instructors and performers. This top-quality program supports the development of aspiring pianists from around the globe.
Rhona has undertaken a pivotal role as Co-Executive Director at the Holy Names Music Center in Spokane, Washington. With her wealth of experience in music education and her unrivaled passion for cultivating musical talent, Rhona is dedicated to fostering the musical community in Spokane and making music education accessible to all. Her leadership at the center echoes her lifelong mission of helping people “Discover the Musician Within,” now benefiting the Spokane community.
Besides her management responsibilities at the Holy Names Music Center, Rhona continues to make her musical mark on the world. You can often catch her virtuosic performances on Spokane Public Radio’s Piano Bench and PBS-TV. Despite her demanding schedule, Rhona remains committed to staying close to her family both in the USA and in Dublin, adeptly juggling her time between the Emerald Isle and Washington State. When she’s not playing chauffeur to her two teenage children or fulfilling her executive responsibilities, Rhona loves to keep active on the rowing machine or travel to far-off lands, absorbing the diverse musical influences of the world.