Rod Russell, a piano teacher in Kelowna, says teaching music to older adults has a positive effect on the brain. - Credit: Contributed

Kelowna piano teacher encourages older adults to learn music

As an older adult, music has a positive impact on the brain, says Rod Russell

It’s never too late to learn an instrument.

Kelowna’s Rod Russell, of the Russell Music Academy, teaches his older students through audio and visual instructions worldwide.

He said playing music has a positive effect on the brain, and benefits older individuals.

“Playing music gives your brain a kind of a workout you can’t get anywhere else. They’ve found memory improves and anxiety goes away,” he said.

By “they” Russell is referring to a study called The Music Making and Wellness Project, by Midori Koga and Fredrick Tims of Michigan State University. The outcome of the research showed decreased anxiety in seniors who took music lessons versus those who did not. The music lessons also decreased levels of depression for students and a decreased perception of loneliness.

Russell’s students have also experienced the positive impact of music.

“Their stress goes way down, and if they’re depressed it cheers them up and it’s kind of interesting in this,” said Russell, referencing the feedback from his students. One student suffered from chronic loneliness but found by playing the piano she didn’t feel as lonely.

Russell said he enjoys teaching older students and finds they learn faster than children.

“They learn faster because they want to, and not only that, I think adults have a better-developed sense of rhythm,” he said.

The way he teaches his students is also easier to learn than the traditional way of memorizing notes and sheet music. The course is based on chord recognition, with learning simple chords with the left hand and a single note melody line, he said students can play recognizable songs faster than with note memorization.

He picked up this way to learn music in his youth, after being frustrated with trying to learn classical.

The course is aimed at the adult market because “what I found is I just teaching adults better because they want to learn, kids you teach them and they don’t want to be there,” he said.

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.


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