Play Piano


Change Your life!


Exciting new research has shown how you can improve your life in miraculous ways by simply learning to play the piano.  And at the same time, greatly reduce your risk of experiencing conditions that diminish your quality of life, and maybe even shorten it.


And the good news is you don’t have to play like Liberace.  Beginners can get the same benefits as experienced pianists.

But… you’ve got to pick the right learning method.  Pick the wrong one and you’ll just add more stress to your life.



Rod Russell




Play Piano & Change Your life


A magical, life changing instrument


The piano is not new.  We’re all familiar with it.  After all, it’s been around for more than 250 years.  Most of us took lessons on one as children (but as adults, almost no one plays).


What we didn’t know until recently is that this amazing instrument is capable of making us healthier, happier, and smarter.  What’s more, anybody can play one and if you approach it the right way, it will put incredible fun and joy in your life.


And the benefits you get from playing the piano can be achieved in no other way.  No activity, no sport, no social group or the internet can do for you what the piano can.


Miraculous improvements - - after only three months!


When Patsy Wright wrote to me to enroll in my home study piano course, she had been suffering from arthritis and osteoporosis for more than eight years. 


Her hands would get so swollen she had difficulty picking up a cup of coffee.  Even combing my hair was a nightmare” she confided. 


She enrolled anyway.


Three months later, Patsy wrote:  “Since starting the piano lessons, my fingers are very flexible.  I can firmly grasp silverware and am not always dropping things.  I no longer have difficulty combing my hair.”  


But it didn’t end there.  She went on to say: “I  feel that learning piano has also improved my memory.  I feel more alert and more able to get on with my other work. It has truly been a blessing for me.”           


Incredible – after only three months? 


I’ve received many such letters telling about how music and the piano in particular have made remarkable improvements in people’s lives.


Surprising changes – at 62!


            Bill Taylor is a retired heavy equipment operator.  He decided, at 62 years old to take up the piano. 


            When he started, Bill was facing several problems brought on by retiring after years of working.  He was troubled by suddenly having nothing to do with his time.


He began to lose confidence in himself and really wasn’t very happy with his new life.  Not only that, after operating heavy machines for years, his hands didn’t work like they should.


Only a few months after Bill started learning piano, I got a letter from him.   He had his old happiness and confidence back and his hands were working much better.


And he was loving his new hobby (he had never played a note before).  But perhaps the most important thing… he had peace of mind !


A whole new degree of joy!


            Over the past twenty five years, The Russell Academy has worked with more than 65,000 adult students in five countries. 


            In almost every instance, the very first thing that a student experienced was a profound sense of joy! 


That seems to be the starting point for all the other miraculous benefits people achieve by playing piano.


Startling new findings


In recent years, there’s been a tremendous amount of research into the effects playing music can have on our life.


Researchers are discovering the therapeutic benefits that are available to anyone who takes up the piano as a hobby, regardless of age or musical background.


            Studies have shown that learning to play the piano can:


1:  Reduce stress and anxiety – sometimes dramatically 

2:  Lower blood pressure

3:  Reduce effects of arthritis in the fingers and the effects of osteoporosis

4:  Improve memory and cognitive functions

5:  Improve math skills

6:  Enhance your creative abilities

6:  Strengthen your immune system (by lowering stress levels)

7:  Reduce or stop feelings of loneliness

8:  Make measurable improvement to the brain

9:  Give person a whole new zest for living, and….

10:Possibly even help ward off dementia and Alzheimer’s disease!


            New research is uncovering an astounding number of health benefits – both mental and physical that can be gained from playing music and especially this remarkable instrument. 


Pretty exciting stuff !


            The first I heard about the connection between improved brain function and the piano was a few years ago.  Grade school teachers started noticing students who took piano lessons were better at math.


I never thought much about it at the time, but since then evidence of improvements to mental and physical health and wellbeing from playing piano have been literally piling up!


            And the benefits don’t just affect young people.  Studies have shown – and my own students have confirmed - that it doesn’t matter how old you are, you can enjoy the same mental and physical improvements.


One researcher noted that playing music appears to “make older people young again”!


Can playing piano actually be another path to the “Fountain of Youth”?   I’m including just of few of the real life stories I’ve received from my own students.  Some of them are nothing short of miraculous.


Proof of a beneficial link


But one of the most significant studies showing a connection between keyboard lessons and health took place in Miami in 1998. 


It was called The Music Making and Wellness Project and was carried out by a group of internationally known experts in the field of medicine, biochemistry, psychology and psychiatry.


The study measured the changes that occurred in 130 middle aged and older adults who took keyboard lessons against the same number of people who didn’t take lessons.  Significant positive changes were noted in those who took lessons, including:


  • Decreased anxiety – after only 10 weeks of lessons!  Decreasing anxiety in your life leads to improved cognitive performance, enhanced learning ability, better decision making and general feelings of well-being.


  • Decreased depression.  This leads to a brighter mood.  We all need cheering up from time to time, and who doesn’t enjoy the feeling of going from “I don’t think I can do this” to “hey, I actually did it!”  


What researchers have found is that a brighter mood and a more positive outlook gained by playing music often has a lasting effect throughout the rest of the day. My own students have had the same experience.


  • Reduced feelings of loneliness.  Participants changed the way they perceived loneliness and being alone.  More about loneliness later in this report.


  • Participants showed a 92% increase in human growth hormone (HGH).  This hormone (or lack of it) drastically affects your energy, wrinkling, osteoporosis, sexual function, muscle mass, aches and pains and much more.


The general finding of this study confirmed that learning music promotes physical and psychological well-being. 


Stress, anxiety and boredom are reduced giving the student physical health benefits as well as a great sense of accomplishment and pleasure.


More proof


Another recent study by the University of Miami School Of Medicine and six other universities discovered measurable health benefits in people who played music. 


As in the Music Making And Wellness Project, feelings of loneliness and boredom decreased among the participants who learned the keyboard. 


But get this… researchers in this study noted significant improvements to the immune systems of their subjects.  Again, reduced stress and anxiety could very well be the reasons. 


Our own research, conducted with a large number of adult students

confirmed all of this.


With all the challenges to our health that we face these days, we certainly need to do everything we can to keep our immune system in tip top shape.


Music and the brain


            Enormous breakthroughs have been made in understanding how our brains work by monitoring them in real time with new amazing equipment.


            When people are hooked up to these machines, tasks, such as reading or doing math have corresponding areas of the brain where activity can be observed.


There has been some exciting research into the effects music has on the brain.  One of the most fascinating studies was done by Environmental Health & Longevity Lifestyle Research Science        


When researchers got people to listen to music, the brain lit up in multiple areas. But get this:  When people played music, they saw fireworks!  The brain lit up everywhere!


They claimed that playing music is the brain’s equivalent to a full-body workout.


            Playing a musical instrument engages practically every area of the brain at once, especially visual, auditory and motor cortices.


            What’s more it improved the connections and pathways between the brain’s two hemispheres, allowing messages to get across the brain faster.


            They found that by giving the brain a “workout”, by playing music, it improved levels of:


-       executive function

-       planning

-       attention to detail

-       cognitive function

-       emotional wellbeing

-       memory

-       organizational functions

Neuroscientists have studied this phenomenon thoroughly and have found learning to play music, and the effects on the brain is different than any other activity including the arts.


The biggest favor your can do for your brain is to start playing the piano.


Stress – a major threat to your health and your life


We live in stressful times.  I don’t think the human body was designed to withstand the emotional pressures of modern life in the 21st century.   


We’ve got a lot of problems to worry about – in almost every country of the world – in our own country – at home – with our relationships. 


Then there’s money problems, health worries, threats to our environment, crime, etc., etc., etc.,    And the news media makes sure we’re reminded of it all every day!


            This can all add up to stress! 


Too much stress can have devastating effects on our physical and mental health.  Long term stress can even have a “burn out” effect. 


Besides the more obvious effects on our emotions, an over-stressed lifestyle can have complex adverse effects to your physical health.  Here is what experts have to say about stress and its effects on the human body.


            Actually, the stress response in the human body is a very useful thing.  Given a certain set of circumstances, it’s what prepares us for a “fight or flight” reaction. 


Certain chemicals in the brain and body are elevated, such as adrenalin.

Functions of the heart and blood vessels, the immune system, the lungs, the digestive system, the sensory organs, and brain are modified to meet the perceived danger.


            In days past the stress response was critical to survival.  The problem, in today’s world, is we seem to be bombarded constantly with events that trigger a stress response.         


One of the most serious effects of stress is an increased risk of heart disease.  Stress has long been associated with high blood pressure. 


Stress has also been found to impair the immune system.  We’re more prone to infection – colds and flu, and perhaps more serious illnesses – when we experience stress for extended periods of time. 


Stress has also been shown to worsen arthritis and head aches and interfere with sleep and digestion, all of which can have a compounding effect on your health.   


According to experts, stress causes the release of a chemical in the brain that suppresses an area concerned with short term memory, concentration, and other cognitive functions.  There have even been suggested links between stress and cancer.


Loneliness – a plague of the 21st Century


Experts estimate that at least one in five people suffer from chronic loneliness.  The causes vary but the consequences can be severe. 


Here are five of the negative effects loneliness can have on your mental and physical health.  Older people are particularly susceptible.  


1: Loneliness can affect the brain like physical pain

Loneliness can actually cause the brain to experience physical pain.  The brains of lonely people often feel pain as if it is real physical pain.  The stress hormone cortisol can increase to a level that, over time, can lead to real pain and serious illness.

2: Increases the risk of dementia

Chronic loneliness has been shown to greatly increase the risk of neurodegenerative disorders like Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.  In fact studies have shown that people who suffer from loneliness have a 64% greater chance of getting dementia.

3: Increased risk of heart disease

Here’s one of the more surprising results loneliness can have on your health that researchers have discovered.  Loneliness can cause inflammation in the body that can damage the blood vessels of the heart.  This leads to increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

4: Sleep disorders

There’s no doubt that good, restful sleep is one of the pillars of health and wellbeing and the lack of it can have dire consequences.  Studies show that loneliness has a very negative effect on sleep. 

Because loneliness causes a depressed state, it can prevent you from falling asleep and staying asleep.  Often lonely people wake up several times during the night. 

5: Reduce life expectancy

Being lonely can shorten your life!  Besides an early death caused by a heart attack, stroke or other health disorders, research has shown that people how feel lonely just don’t live as long as those who don’t.

There could be a variety of reasons but perhaps the will to live just isn’t as strong. 

So the message is clear.  If you’re experiencing feelings of loneliness on a regular basis, you’ve got to do whatever you can to eliminate it from your life. People die from loneliness. 

If you’re affected by loneliness, now you can do something about it – and have fun doing it.

Over the years I’ve had many, many adult students say their loneliness simply went away when they started playing piano.  There are a number of reasons for this:

-       When you play music stress goes away and your mood gets a lot better

-       Because you are happier, you have a greater desire to get out and interact with people

-       You get a profound sense of accomplishment and satisfaction and your self- confidence increases

-       But here’s the most important factor backed up by recent research:  Playing music changes your mind’s perception of being alone ! It can change you from feeling lonely and miserable to being happy with just being alone.   Amazing!

The internet, games and new electronic gadgets – the good, the bad, and the ugly


            Who can argue that the internet is a wonderful thing in today’s world.  Who would have thought 20 years ago that we’d be communicating in real time with someone on the other side of the world, face to face!


            Email, Facebook, other social media, Google, etc, etc. - information, communication, shopping, banking, travel arrangements – it’s all at our fingertips.


            But there’s a dark side to all of this.


            People are increasingly spending more and more time at their computer, smart phone or tablet.  Just walk down any street or go into a coffee shop and see how many people are glued to their phones, even when they’re with other people!


            Experts are now finding that spending too much time on our electronic gadgets can be very detrimental in a number of ways.


A growing body of research suggests that excessive use of the internet is detrimental to both physical and mental health. 


People are suffering from depressions, sleep disorders, headaches. Too much screen time can have a detrimental effect on your eyesight and hormones. Studies have also shown that internet use has a negative effect on memory.


            And it gets worse…  new research is showing that too much time spent in front of a screen playing games actually shrinks the brain !


            Learning music doesn’t do any of those things – just the opposite.  So it seems it would be prudent to use new technology in a reasonable amount and add things that are more beneficial to our lives – like music.


Why you absolutely MUST add music to your life


You’ve got to reduce and counter the stress in your life as much as possible.  And what better way than learning to play the piano for fun. 


There are many things over which you have no control, but you can create an island of inner peace and happiness for yourself, a time in your busy day when there’s just you, your piano and your music. 


When you do this, the effects can be truly astonishing.


When asked, almost without exception my students have said their stress and anxiety all but disappear when they’re at the piano and their spirit soars.  Furthermore, this feeling seems to carry on throughout their day. 


They simply feel more alive, positive and confident.     Pretty good reasons to choose the piano, wouldn’t you say?


Abolishing the age and talent myth


Let’s clear up one thing right now.  It’s never too late to start playing the piano.    There’s been a general feeling that once you reach, say middle age or older, there’s no hope of you ever learning a musical instrument.  That simply isn’t true.


One can start at any age.  I have proven this with my own students, many of whom have started from scratch in their sixties, seventies, eighties – even some in their nineties!   


And they do just fine, discovering an exciting new hobby that profoundly brightens, improves – and perhaps even extends – their life.


And talent?  We’ve worked with thousands of adult students and I can tell you there’s very, very few who simply cannot play music. 


If you approach it in an easy, fun way, you have all the talent you need.  I can almost guarantee you’ll surprise yourself.


A Few Extra Benefits You’ll Enjoy By Learning Piano


I would be remiss if I didn’t point out a few of the side benefits you can get when you embark on your musical adventure.    Over the years I’ve had many, many letters from students telling me about their musical experiences. 


I’m sometimes surprised that they’ve discovered an advantage that I never even thought of.  Here are a few that come to mind.


·         Learning piano can make you more interesting to others.  Tell your friends about your music, the songs you learned that day, your musical goals and the positive experience you’re having.


·         A regular practice session at the piano helps to organize your day.  It’s easy to sort of let your day drift by and you wind up with the feeling that you didn’t accomplish anything. 


  By establishing a daily time for playing, you will have something to look  

  forward to every day plus you can organize the rest of your day around it,

  thereby accomplishing even more.


·         Believe it or not, more than a few of my students have mentioned an improvement to their eyesight from learning and playing piano!  I have no idea why this may occur and I can find no research about it.   


One student, a retired priest, was actually legally blind when he started.  He wrote to say his eyesight had improved substantially. 


·         Then there are increased social opportunities.  Several students have told me about playing at church or with a choir.   One lady joined an “old time fiddlers” group as their accompanist and has traveled all over the country with them.  You just never know…


Choosing the right program for you


            To make this work for you in the best possible way, giving you all the marvelous benefits available, you must choose the right program. 


Whether or not you choose our program, I highly recommend you pick one with the following features: 


-       It must be well organized, going step by step so you enjoy rapid, steady progress without getting overwhelmed and confused.

-       It must be easy to follow and understand

-       It must get you into play real songs you recognize quickly.  If it doesn’t you’ll simply get bored and lose interest

-       It must give you a constant feeling of accomplishment

-       It must teach you what you need to be able to play your favorite songs – regardless of the type of music you like (popular, blues, gospel, country etc.)


Why traditional lessons don’t work for most people


            Did you take lessons as a child?  If you did, chances are you were put into traditional lessons.  Boring songs and theory and discipline.  It certainly wasn’t about fun and loving music.


Millions of kids were subjected to this but very few play today.  Go and ask about 12 people if they took piano lessons as a child.  You’ll find about half of them did.


            Then ask them if they play now.  You’ll find almost nobody that does.  Here’s why.  Traditional lessons evolved from a hundred plus years ago and were designed to do one thing – make the student into a concert pianist.


            Now, really, how many people want to become a concert pianist?  One in five hundred, maybe?  What about the other 499 who could have enjoyed playing piano for a life time and enjoyed all the benefits we’ve talked about - - if they’d been given lessons that allowed them to play music they liked.


            What a tragedy.  I’ve had hundreds and hundreds of letters from adult students who had this experience.  They endured the lessons for a few years to please their parents then finally got fed up and quit. 


And they’re still doing this to kids today!!


At The Russell Academy we’ve tailored a correspondence piano program for adults that has all the features you need to easily learn to play good popular piano. 


It costs considerably less than taking private lessons, provides extra help when you need it by email, and it’s proven – it works.  If you choose to try our program, I would be delighted to have you as a student.


Amazing, real life stories


The following stories are just a few from my many files.  They’re written by ordinary people just like you and me – and they will surprise you.  The changes music and the piano have made in their lives are profound to say the least. 


NOTE: The loss of a loved one, a separation or even having your children move away from home can leave a real void in your life.  Feeling lonely isn’t much fun and can even lead to serious health problems.  This student’s comments are typical of many I’ve received.   As you’ll see, putting music in your life can brighten your spirit and give you a renewed sense of purpose.


Dear Rod

Four years ago my husband passed away.  This past December I gave

myself a keyboard and your music lessons for Christmas.  When I sit down and practice in the evenings, the house  seems full of life, love and joy instead of silent, empty and lonely.  Besides fulfilling a lifelong dream, this is an unexpected blessing.  Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Katherine Young, NC


NOTE: There’s nothing like a life enriching project to put a spark back in your life.  And a musical project gives you multiple benefits.  The result?  More joy in your life as you’ll see from Gladys Beck’s experience.



Dear Mr. Russell,

            With our six children grown up and gone, and with my husband being retired, my life became a little stagnant.  I live in an area where music is nil.


            When we saw your ad my husband encouraged me to send for your lessons.  This program has been a God send for me.  I am happier, more self confident, alert and challenged.  I thank you for making this possible for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Gladys Beck, OH


NOTE: I started my music teaching career instructing adults (and young adults) one-on-one.  I found that for a large percentage of them, it was a stressful experience – especially if they hadn’t had time to practice and felt unprepared.  That, more than anything else is the reason I dedicated a year of my life to create an easy home study course people can do at their own speed. 


If you can find the right teacher and are comfortable with weekly lessons, by all means go that way.  But if not, consider learning with a home study program that you can do at your convenience.


Dear Rod,

            I went through the typical music lessons for many years during my high school days, but was really a nervous wreck every time I visited my music teacher.  I have found learning piano at home is an exciting adventure and no longer have any nervous symptoms.  I’m enjoying every lesson and am realizing a sense of accomplishment that I never had before. 


            I suffer from Asthma but this new hobby of mine makes me forget I have this problem. I think it keeps me young and vibrant the rest of the day.  It certainly is a joy in my life and something I look forward to every day.  Many thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Shirley Holzberg NJ


NOTE: As we get older, it seems we start believing we can’t do some of the physical things we want to do.  And, of course there are activities we can no longer consider, but playing piano isn’t one of them.  Learning piano usually improves finger dexterity and if you suffer from mild arthritis in your hands, it often helps that as well.                                                                                                       

Dear Rod,


            I am beginning to feel a fulfillment that I thought I would never experience.  My joy at being able to read music and turn it into something people are happy to listen to, is unsurpassed.


            I am in my 50s and I admit I was somewhat concerned that I would not have the finger dexterity required to play piano.  In fact I was actually told this two years ago by a professional teacher!  After taking your lessons for 10 months, I have no problem whatsoever with finger dexterity.


I also had misgivings about my ability to read the score and maintain the correct timing, but it’s happening!  It’s made me so happy.  It has been a challenge but the success I have had so far has certainly given me immense joy and I am well on my way to achieving a lifelong ambition.


            Your encouragement has made all the difference, especially when that tendency to “give up” comes around.  Many, many thanks.                                                                                                                                                        Antonia Smythers UK



Dear Mr. Russell,

            I am having a wonderful time with my lessons.  I had my 80th birthday last September and I have found that with music in my life, especially the piano, I am never lonely.


            By the way, I have arthritis in my right thumb and by playing octaves it has improved immensely. Thanks you again

                                                                                                   Dorothy Martin, NC


NOTE: There is no greater feeling than that of accomplishment.  It’s empowering.  Many of my students have said that their session with the piano every day helps to keep them motivated and accomplish more through their day.  We all need that, wouldn’t you agree?


Dear Rod,

            I have arthritis in my fingers and I have certainly noticed better finger dexterity.  My fingers can be so sore before I go to play but while I’m playing I feel no discomfort whatsoever.  The exercise is so good for my fingers.


            I am enjoying my lessons and making real progress.  There is a real feeling of accomplishment to master each new piece.  I like being able to work at my own pace and not have to run off to a lesson.


I have had cancer and am on a medication that causes memory impairment.  I feel the lessons will counter that.  Thank you so much for your excellent product.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Marlene Loring BC


NOTE:  I mentioned that you can create your own “island of inner peace” every day when you sit down and spend time with your piano.  Sherri Belluz eloquently describes what so many of my students have said.  Playing the piano reduces stress and can become a treasured part of your life.


Dear Rod,

            I am married and have two sons.  I have been and still am a secretary for the past 22 years.


            For my 40th birthday I pledged to learn to play the piano.  I let the piano sit in my dining room waiting for lessons to begin but couldn’t find the right teacher.  I’m so glad I found you.


            When I started I was terrified that I would never be able to learn this – my first musical instrument.  To my surprise and delight I was playing the first song, Beautiful Brown Eyes in no time.  Needless to say, I have mastered this song and many more!


            The piano has become my biggest stress reliever and it is something I have become dependent upon.  I don’t feel right unless I sit down to play every day. 


It is the greatest feeling in the world when you are able to play – especially songs that have previously given you some difficulty.  I have surprised myself on many an occasion.  I look forward to each lesson.


            I am truly enjoying learning this lifelong skill and look forward to many years of enjoyment.  I only wish that I had started sooner.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Sherri Belluz ON



            These letters are just a small sampling of the many, many comments I have received from people who have embarked on their own personal musical adventure.   


As you can see, the life changing benefits people have achieved are amazing to say the least. 


In almost every case, my students have found a profound sense of excitement, accomplishment, purpose and pure joy at being able to make their own music. Learning and playing the piano can do the same for you.


I would be delighted and honored to be your coach on your new musical adventure.


For more information about our home learning system for adults:


The Russell Academy of Music

#5 – 4490 Gallagher’s Forest South

Kelowna, BC, Canada  V1W 5E1