‘With music, you bring people with dementia into the here and now’

Severiano Paoli is a versatile bassist and musician with Embrace Netherlands. As a player of early music, he collaborates with various professional orchestras, such as the baroque ensemble of the famous singer Nathalie Stutzmann. He also works with modern orchestras. Severiano graduated in his native Italy, came to the Netherlands in 2013 to do his master’s degree at the Prince Claus Conservatory and decided to stay in Groningen. We spoke with him about life as a musician in corona, his work for Embrace and his future in the Netherlands.

How did your life as a musician begin?
Ever since I was young, I knew I wanted to be a musician. I came in contact with the guitar at age seven, during a party at my parents’ house. About ten years later I was introduced to the double bass, which was in the theater. I thought it was a beautiful instrument, with those deep and dark sounds. I started taking classes. I completed my conservatory training in Lucca, Italy. Through a teacher, I came in contact with the Prince Claus Conservatory of Music in Groningen.

What does working for Embrace Netherlands mean to you?
At the Prince Claus Conservatory I took the Master Module ‘Music and Healthcare’ and got to know Philip (Philip Curtis is artistic director of Embrace Netherlands, ed.) and came in contact with Embrace’s work. I learned a lot at Embrace about what music does to people, especially vulnerable people. But I also learned a lot about myself as a communicator. Music is a language. With music, you can connect and bring people with dementia into the here and now. This has a positive effect on their well-being.

What does your life as a musician look like in times of corona?
I work independently, in various and changing companies. Now with this “partial lockdown,” it is on hold for a while. But as soon as it is possible I will perform again. Within the limits of corona measures, of course. Income from music performances is a lot lower at the moment, and work for Embrace is also at a standstill. But I still have income from other work. I published three scores with a Japanese publisher. I am also working as a consultant for a Korean musicologist on a book about the history of the double bass. Through www.facebook.com/sevbows/ I sell and rent bows, both modern and historic. To students and to professional musicians.


Sen can also

s can also follow tutorials through your YouTube channel, what are they about?

The purpose of my video tutorials on YouTube is to help people with their personal development with their own instrument. The videos are basically autobiographical: everything I share on them comes from my personal experience. It is actually a kind of diary of my development as a musician. I started it because I noticed that many musicians don’t really think about why they do certain things. What tools do you choose for your instrument? In what way do you practice your instrument? With my videos, I want to make people curious and hope to help them during their musical education.

How do you look to the future?
The future is nice and cloudy at the moment. We cannot yet predict what will happen in the coming months. I hope to continue my work as I did before the corona crisis. Until last March there was always an upward curve, things were going heartily. I hope to pick up that thread and take on many new challenges again. I would like to stay in the Netherlands, I think this is a great country. I am settled here, feel at home here and it is nice working here. And very important: government and tax authorities here make it very easy for you to get things arranged as a self-employed person. This is very different in other countries.

Watch the coronatip video Severiano made for Embrace Netherlands here.

Practical Expertise Center Embrace Netherlands

With its music programs, Embrace Netherlands aims to inspire everyone in healthcare to use music in daily healthcare practice. Embrace Netherlands devises innovative music programs and low-threshold training with the goal of giving vulnerable people a better life. We perform these music programs together with professional and amateur musicians, family caregivers, care workers and students. Our professional musicians took the master module “Music and Healthcare” at the Prince Claus Conservatory of Music.