Playground Sessions Review: Is it bad? (2024)
Playground Sessions is a piano learning platform designed to teach you how to play piano using interactive video lessons and AI-powered feedback.
Playground Sessions promises to make learning fun, easy and affordable with their video game-like lessons. But does Playground Sessions actually deliver on this promise? Is it really an effective way to learn piano? In this detailed review, we'll take an in-depth look at Playground Sessions to see if it's worth your time and money.
Overview of Playground Sessions
Touted as the best piano learning software on the market, Playground Sessions emphasizes fun, effective, and fast piano education. With world-class teachers, structured lesson plans, and cutting-edge technology, the platform aims to make learning piano accessible and enjoyable for students of all levels.
Founded in 2010 by Chris Vance with legendary musician Quincy Jones’ endorsement, Playground Sessions brings piano instruction into the 21st century. The software uses video lessons, gaming elements, and proprietary technology to deliver an interactive learning experience.
Here’s an outline of Playground Sessions’ key features:
Step-by-step video lessons – With 100+ hours of video lessons you will learn fundamentals from professional teachers like David Sides in a structured curriculum.
Interactive sheet music – Sheet music comes to life on-screen with animations and falling notes.
Feedback system – Get real-time feedback on your playing as you progress through lessons.
Games – Reinforce concepts through fun piano games testing rhythm, technique, and theory.
Courses – Dive deeper into skills like music reading, chord building, and more with specialized courses.
2000+ Song library – Learn to play hits from Adele, Elton John, Coldplay, and other popular artists.
Motivation tools – Track your advancement across skills, earn medals, and stay motivated.
Playground Sessions provides beginner to intermediate piano lessons through pre-recorded HD video lessons. These video lessons cover music reading, technique, theory, and more.
Alongside lessons, Playground Sessions offers a library of songs to learn and play along with. These songs range from classical and jazz standards to today's pop hits. The songs are arranged at multiple difficulty levels, allowing you to start simple and work up to advanced arrangements.
As you play along with the lessons and songs, Playground Sessions listens to what you play through your digital piano, keyboard, or MIDI controller. It gives real-time feedback on the accuracy of the notes you play. This turns learning piano into a game, with point scoring for how well you play.
Beyond the lessons and songs, Playground Sessions offers various courses and challenges. These dive deeper into subjects like music theory, playing with two hands, and genres like holiday and pop music.
Playground Sessions is available as an app for iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows. This allows you to learn from any device connected to your piano or keyboard.
Who is it for?
Playground Sessions markets itself as perfect for complete beginners. The lessons start from square one, assuming no prior piano experience. The game-like format aims to appeal to younger beginners.
However, pianists with some experience can also benefit. With songs and courses at multiple levels, there's material for everything from beginner to intermediate.
The portability of the app may appeal to those wanting to continue lessons anywhere, not just at home. But it likely won't satisfy those wanting in-person teacher interactions.
A standout aspect of Playground Sessions is the structured curriculum that progresses logically from beginner to advanced.
The “Bootcamp” section offers a complete piano primer for true beginners. With lessons grouped into Rookie, Intermediate, and Advanced levels, students build a solid foundation covering posture, finger position, reading music, rhythm, chords, and theory basics.
Beyond Bootcamp, specialized courses let you refine specific techniques – from mastering arpeggios to nailing chord progressions. Whether you’re starting from scratch or have some experience, Playground Sessions has training for your level.
Playground Sessions Pricing
Playground Sessions uses a subscription model with a 30-day money back guarantee. Pricing options include:
Monthly subscription: $24.99/month
Annual subscription: $12.49/month billed yearly
Lifetime subscription: $349.99 one-time fee
These prices are competitive compared to traditional in-person piano lessons. The lifetime subscription provides the best value for ongoing use of the platform.
Playground Sessions Coupon
You can use coupon code fall23 to receive a 30% discount on all their available plans.
Playground Sessions Songs
A major highlight is access to Playground Sessions’ ever-expanding song library of 2000+ songs spanning multiple genres. Popular artists covered include Elton John, Coldplay, Adele, Queen, and The Beatles.
Songs get broken down into manageable components, making them accessible to learn. The app listens to you play and gives feedback on note accuracy. It also provides scores as you play correctly for that fun, video game feel.
New songs are added every month to keep the content library fresh and evolving. You can master favorites from Lewis Capaldi, Ed Sheeran, Billy Joel, and more. This huge variety keeps learning engaging across years of lessons.
What You Need to Use Playground Sessions
To use Playground Sessions, you need:
A digital piano, keyboard or MIDI controller. 49 full-size keys are recommended. Weighted keys will provide the most realistic experience.
A device like a computer, tablet, or phone to run the app. This must connect to your piano via USB or MIDI.
Without a proper keyboard hooked up, the app won't actually listen and provide feedback on your playing.
Once you purchase access and download the app, connect your keyboard to your device via USB. You may need to install a keyboard driver for proper connectivity.
The app will guide you through account setup and assessing your skill level. Then you can explore the Dashboard to access lessons, courses, and songs.
Learning with Playground Sessions
Playground Sessions divides all content by skill level:
Rookie: True beginners with no experience. Covers piano basics, music reading, technique, and simple songs.
Intermediate: For those with fundamentals down. Focuses on chords, rhythm, patterns, and more advanced songs.
Advanced: Polishing pieces with complex rhythms, voicings, and artistic expression.
The Rookie course assumes absolutely no experience. It starts by showing you where the notes are on the piano.
Despite being for beginners, Rookie still covers a lot of music theory like note values, time signatures, accidentals, scales, and key signatures. This theory is woven into playing exercises.
For example, you'll see notation on-screen and play along as the app listens and provides feedback. The app highlights each note green or red indicating if you played it correctly. You keep repeating exercises until you get them right.
The Rookie course uses backing tracks from popular songs to make drills more engaging. And it builds up to playing simple beginner pieces with both hands.
With 93 video lessons and exercises, Rookie teaches solid fundamentals before playing full pieces. But the heavy focus on theory may overwhelm some looking for a lighter introduction.
Intermediate and Advanced Courses
The Intermediate course focuses more on playing with 63 lessons on chords, inversions, patterns, and syncopation.
Advanced hones skills like arpeggios, 7th chords, 16th notes, and advanced rhythms across 25 lessons. It also covers using pedal and developing proper technique.
Both courses include ear training as well, building the ability to recognize intervals and chords by ear. And they use an expanding songbook to apply skills.
Customized Lessons Using Collective Data
In a unique approach, Playground Sessions leverages data from the user community to customize lesson sessions to each student. By analyzing areas users commonly struggle with, the software tailors lessons to target your personal strengths and weaknesses.
This data-driven approach ensures every practice session stays fun and challenging as you develop new skills. The technology fills the personalized guidance gap that pre-recorded video lessons have.
Thousands of Reviews from Satisfied Students
With a 4.8-star rating across over 4,300 reviews on the App Store, Playground Sessions has earned strong praise for making learning piano interactive and enjoyable.
Users highlight the platform’s effective teaching methods, progress tracking tools, and sheet music technology. The digestible lesson format gets commendation for breaking down songs into manageable components. Both beginners and experienced players rate Playground Sessions highly.
Designed for Student Success
Playground Sessions offers extensive resources to set students up for success. FAQs provide answers to common questions about using the software. Forum boards and social media groups enable community learning.
The company also offers a 30-day money back guarantee for dissatisfied users along with encouraging students to sign-up with the promise of support throughout their journey.
For those seeking a contemporary, proven method for learning piano theory, techniques, and songs, Playground Sessions hits the right notes.
Other Playground Sessions Features
Beyond the core lessons and song library, Playground Sessions has several other features:
Courses: Dive into focused courses on subjects like music theory, technique, and specific genres.
Challenges: Short focused sets of lessons like holiday songs or improving finger dexterity.
Metrics: The app tracks practice time, total points, and accuracy. Review your progress over days, weeks, and months.
Additional Teachers: Video lessons also feature specialty guest teachers like David Bowie's former pianist, Mike Garson.
These extras provide variety when you want a change from core lesson content. They also add some fun challenges to motivate continuous improvement.
The Pros and Cons of Playground Sessions
Here are some key pros and cons to weigh if considering Playground Sessions:
Huge library of lessons and songs
Game-like format is fun and engaging
Real-time feedback on playing accuracy
Covers theory AND technique well
Accessible from multiple devices
Upfront theory focus may intimidate some
Monthly fees add up over time
Can't replace real teacher interactions
Requires owning digital piano/keyboard
For motivated self-starters, Playground Sessions provides incredible value. But it does require disciplined practice, especially given the heavy theory components.
Monthly payments may not work for all budgets. And some may still prefer learning from a real teacher in-person.
Playground Sessions vs. Flowkey
Playground Sessions and Flowkey take slightly different approaches to online piano lessons. Here’s an overview of how these two popular platforms compare:
Playground Sessions utilizes video lessons from professional teachers like David Sides. Lessons incorporate gaming elements and motivational tools.
Flowkey relies more on animated, interactive sheet music without video lessons. The focus is learning by playing.
Playground Sessions offers structured learning with beginner “Bootcamp” lessons to build foundations. Additional courses target specific techniques.
Flowkey doesn’t have a set curriculum. It works better for self-driven learners who can structure their own learning path.
Playground Sessions provides a massive and constantly updated library of popular hit songs spanning multiple genres.
Flowkey has a smaller selection of pop songs. Less variety but generally more recent chart hits.
Playground Sessions is accessible across Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android devices.
Flowkey is currently limited to iOS and Android mobile apps only. No desktop access.
Playground Sessions starts at $12.49/month for annual membership. Discounted lifetime options available.
Flowkey offers a 7-day free trial then $19.99/month subscription with no long-term discounts.
Playground Sessions suits beginners needing structure and those wanting a well-rounded experience.
Flowkey appeals to self-driven learners focused on playing pop songs and less on theory.
Both provide solid options for interactive piano learning. Playground Sessions offers more structure for beginners while Flowkey serves pick-up-and-play learners. Consider your teaching style preferences when choosing between the two quality platforms.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some common questions about using Playground Sessions:
How is Playground Sessions different from traditional piano lessons?
Playground Sessions offers a more modern, game-inspired approach. With interactive sheet music, motivation systems, and real-time feedback, the experience is more engaging than classic lessons.
What musical styles does Playground Sessions teach?
The platform covers multiple genres from pop and rock to holiday songs. Popular artists include Elton John, Taylor Swift, Coldplay, Queen, Billy Joel, and Adele.
Does Playground Sessions work for beginners?
Yes! Playground Sessions is designed for beginners starting from zero experience. The lessons start by showing you where the notes are on the piano.
Can you learn by ear with Playground Sessions?
While Playground Sessions focuses on reading sheet music, you can mute the notation and play along in real-time to learn songs by ear.
How much does a Playground Sessions subscription cost?
Membership plans start from $12.49/month for annual sign-up. There are also discounted lifetime access options available.
Can Playground Sessions replace an in-person piano teacher?
It can in teaching fundamentals, technique, and pieces. But some may still benefit from occasional in-person lessons for personalized feedback and motivation.
How does Playground Sessions' pricing compare to lessons?
Considering the huge amount of content and songs included, Playground Sessions provides exceptional value compared to weekly private lessons.
What devices can I use Playground Sessions on?
The software is compatible across Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android devices. You can learn from any computer or mobile device.
Are there financing options for Playground Sessions?
Yes, installment plans are available through Affirm to pay annually or for lifetime access over several months.
Is it worth your time and money?
Playground Sessions earns its "revolutionary" claims as a piano learning system. The interactive app experience takes a modern approach to engage today's learners.
There's incredible breadth and depth to the content. Beginners can build up solid foundations across technique and theory. Intermediate players can continue advancing their skills as well.
For those able to commit to consistent practice and monthly fees, Playground Sessions is worth your time and money as it provides amazing value compared to traditional lessons. It can take you from zero experience to confidently playing songs at the piano.
Just bear in mind that self-motivation and discipline is required given the more independent learning format. But if you can commit to regular practice, you'll find Playground Sessions incredibly effective and fun for learning piano.