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Playground Sessions Review

Playground sessions is a popular course for learning to play piano.

Over the years, we have tried out various piano programs to see what works best. Learning to play the piano takes time, and excellent lessons can speed up the process. The digital age has brought about online piano courses that let you practice the instrument at your own pace without having to search for the perfect instructor. Some even let you accelerate the process so that learning an instrument won’t have to take years.

However, not all programs have the same advantages. Since we have experimented with many, we know what works and what doesn’t. We believe that Playground Sessions has high-quality content to help you learn to play the piano from the comfort of your home.

We found Playground Sessions helpful for pianists of most skill levels, although it specifically caters to beginner and intermediate players of all ages. The digital learning platform lets you learn to play without a teacher or even a traditional 88-key piano. It provides feedback concerning your performance immediately, teaching you your strengths and weaknesses. 

This affordable software works with most computers, and it offers plenty of content with each package and bundle. You can always add more to your membership as well. If you want to learn the piano from scratch yet do not want to pay for in-person lessons, then Playground Sessions may help.

Keep reading this Playground Sessions review to learn more about the product and how it may benefit you!

Playground Sessions Overview

Before we get into the details of all that Playground has to offer, let’s take a quick look at the big picture.

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What Is Playground Sessions?

Playground Sessions is a digital learning platform that teaches you how to play the piano. You start by downloading the software and watching video tutorials. From there, you can begin playing popular songs. You play the piano in a game-like fashion and receive real-time feedback about your performance. It provides printable sheet music to perform with and teaches you where your strengths and weaknesses lie.

This program runs on Mac and Windows computers, and it has an iPad app. The base package lets you choose from 500 songs to learn from tons of genres, including Classical, Pop, R&B, Rock, and Traditional. You will find tons of hits from all music eras separated by Rookie, Intermediate, and Advanced skill levels. 

It works via a USB connection, so you will need a digital piano or keyboard. Some other programs use your computer’s microphone to detect the notes, so you can play with a virtual or acoustic piano. Nevertheless, Playground Sessions sells complete bundles so that you can affordably acquire a compliant instrument along with the courses.

Is It Any Good?

We can confidently say that Playground Sessions works. The computer software offers all you would need to know to learn to play the piano. You can learn the fundamentals of music theory, sight-reading sheet music, the melodies and backgrounds of popular songs, and watch video lessons by acclaimed musicians like Quincy Jones, Harry Connick, Jr., and David Sides. 

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It lets you challenge yourself and measure your progress, teaching you where you need to improve. Also, you can learn at your own pace. 

All in all, this software does everything a piano teacher could do and more. Our only chagrin is the iPad app. The app has several implementation issues, such as the sheet music being too small, difficulty accessing features, and the songs jumping around as you play. We implore you to use the computer software if you plan on purchasing Playground Sessions.

Key Features

Playground Sessions has tons of exciting and unique features to make learning fun as you practice playing the piano.

Song Library

One thing that Playground Sessions isn’t trailing behind in is their extensive song library. You can find over 500 songs to play in their music library sorted by skill level and genre. They have Classical, Gospel, Traditional, Contemporary Piano, Rock, Country, Musical, R&B, Latin, Pop, Holiday, and Jazz songs. You can learn via video tutorial or by reading the sheet music. 

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Even the skill levels have breakdowns. You start as a Rookie where you can perform Easy, Moderate, and Hard songs. Then, you proceed to Intermediate and Advanced, each having Easy, Moderate, and Hard options.

While they may list the skill level as “Advanced,” it will seem too simplistic to more seasoned musicians. However, it is a natural progression for the software’s lessons, and you will still benefit from what it has to offer. We do not recommend Playground Sessions for highly skilled pianists, but it works well for beginning and intermediate players.

You can play songs by your favorite artists and discover the subtle differences between each genre. Keep in mind that your subscription determines the number of pieces you can access. Monthly memberships offer five free contemporary songs a month, but a lifetime membership lets you access 40 free songs immediately. All plans provide free classical pieces, but you will need to pay extra for more. A paid membership offers a 60% discount on individual songs.

Celebrity Lessons

Quincy Jones, the Grammy-award-winning, multi-instrumentalist producer and musician, co-created Playground Sessions and contributes to the curriculum, learning methodology, and arrangements. Jazz musician and actor Harry Connick, Jr. has also contributed video lessons to the platform. Viral YouTube sensation, pianist, and composer David Sides offers tons of tutorials to teach you to play in a personable and accessible manner.

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Other instructors include the musician, composer, and professor Alex Ness, conductor and pianist David Gracia, and the highly-decorated scholar Dr. Byron Adams. You can find videos of the instructors playing on their YouTube channel to see just how well these musicians play. They are highly educated and have taught for years, so you know that you’re in the best hands.

Few platforms have celebrity endorsements from names this big, let alone lessons from them. By learning from commercially successful pianists, you can practice the skills that could help you become a contemporary musician rather than another piano player who can perform Classical songs.

Learn Music Theory

While some simpler piano lesson platforms only teach you how to play songs, Playground Sessions teaches you the theory behind them. It takes popular songs and uses their rhythms and melodies to demonstrate music theory concepts in a relatable fashion.

Their music theory lessons teach you about rhythm, notation, sight-reading, and playing by ear. Instructor David Sides learned to play the piano by ear, and he covers tons of musical concepts in his video lessons. He teaches you the same methods he used to master the piano, all in an accessible format. The tutorials become more complex depending on your skill level.

However, their music theory lessons do not cover as much as traditional piano lessons. While this resource is a terrific way to practice the piano, you will not become a master of music theory. Despite that, it does work well if you primarily want to learn to play songs while earning a foundational understanding of how and why they sound as they do.

Track Your Progress

As you complete lessons, you can track your progress with readable charts. Playground Sessions measures the time spent practicing, your scores, your high and low points, and where you improve. You can access all of this data on the “My Playground” section of the platform to understand how you perform.

The charts also tell you where you need more work. They present the data plainly so you can get an unbiased, direct view of your performances. Many platforms have you complete the lessons without measuring your progress, so you will not have a great understanding of your skillset.

Real-Time Feedback

While performing songs, you can get live feedback. It’s not the same as an instructor guiding you by hand, but the screen will show you when you’ve missed a note, gone off rhythm, or need to focus on one section. The feedback will directly lead you to what you need to improve. Most platforms do not provide much commentary on your rhythm and timing, but Playground Sessions has a comprehensive system for ranking your performance.

If you have trouble with one segment of a song, you can highlight it and play it on loop until you master it. Then, you can continue practicing. You receive scores based on your performance so that you can try to beat yourself the next time you play that song.

Make It a Game

If you have a competitive spirit, you can play against your friends with Playground Sessions. You can all play the same song to see who scores the highest. Even if you do not play against people, you can level up and earn badges and rewards by improving your skills. 

By plugging in your keyboard or digital piano, you can readily perform the songs you have access to and complete the lessons in an easygoing environment. The iPad app also plays like a game, even with its flaws. The gamification keeps learning fun and kids interested, so people of all ages can benefit from the program.

Another intriguing feature is the option to play with backing tracks. The backing tracks create a full concert experience, and you can record yourself playing with them to resemble a professionally recorded song. Playground Sessions has gamification features like Guitar Hero and Rocksmith, letting you learn the instrument while having fun.

Customer Support

Playground Sessions has fantastic customer support. They respond quickly to answer all of your questions, no matter what problem you encounter. Their support center offers assistance for downloading and using the software, technical malfunctions, and clarification.

You can call them between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on weekdays, or email them at any time with your questions or comments. They also have a Frequently Asked Questions page if you cannot get a hold of them.

If you find yourself dissatisfied with the program, you can cancel your membership within 30 days for a full refund.

Pricing and Bundles

Playground Sessions offer several membership options. Each gives you access to the Music Theory Bootcamp, free Classical songs, and unlockable bonus content. Paying monthly or yearly gets you five free songs a month to learn, while a lifetime free membership automatically gets you 40 free songs.

If several members of your family want to learn the piano, you can get a Family Plan. Family Plans provide discounts on multiple memberships and offer more free songs than the standard options.

Music Theory Bootcamp includes video tutorials, interactive lessons, multiple levels, and teaches you how to read music. You can pay a low price for each new song once you get a membership and get free printable sheet music. Additional courses teach you how to play scales, chords, and famous melodies. Lastly, all memberships offer gaming features, including an offline mode.

Playground Sessions sells keyboard bundles to get everything you need in one. You can get a keyboard with built-in speakers, headphones, an adapter, a sustain pedal, an auxiliary connection, a detachable sheet music stand, and a USB cable with the keyboard bundle, paired with a monthly, annual, or lifetime membership. They have other options to choose from as well, covering different brands of keyboards.

You will need either a digital piano or MIDI keyboard to use Playground Sessions. The brand does not matter, but Playground Sessions sells Casio, Yamaha, and Playground Sessions proprietary products. As long as it has USB compatibility, it should work with the program.

Suitable for a Wide Age Range

Playground Sessions works best for beginners ages seven and older, and it has something for everyone to enjoy. Your child can learn their favorite songs from movies, and you can learn hits from your childhood. With over 500 songs to learn, you should find one you like.

It has a game-like layout to keep you engaged, and it rewards you with scores and badges based on your performance. The creators designed it for people of all ages and skill levels, and they have sectioned it out accordingly.

However, we do not recommend it for those who have undergone years of lessons and are near expert-level in skill. The Advanced section will seem too elementary for them. If you took piano lessons years ago, you may find merit in the tutorials and use them to brush up on your skills.

Alternative Programs

There are tons of programs out there to teach you to play piano online. One such program is Flowkey.

1. Flowkey

The best alternative we found is Flowkey. Flowkey is an app that teaches you to play your keyboard, digital piano, or acoustic piano. It works on desktop and mobile devices and lets you learn over 1,500 popular songs, including Classical, Jazz, Pop, R&B, and even video game music. Flowkey works best for beginners, but it does offer some advanced pieces for those who cannot read music well.

Unlike Playground Sessions, you can try Flowkey for free. Then, you can pay monthly or annually to upgrade your subscription. The free trial includes a few songs and lessons, but the paid subscription gives you access to all songs, courses, and lessons. The app uses your computer’s microphone to listen for the notes played. If you have a keyboard or digital piano, you can connect it via USB. 

Flowkey teaches piano with a video of someone playing the song accompanied by the sheet music, helping you to learn to sight-read while performing. The keys being played light up on the screen. It pauses when you miss a note and will not continue until you play the correct one. Flowkey tries to personalize your experience by asking questions about your instrument and prior skill. 

However, it does not go in-depth on music theory, so only beginners or those not serious about becoming elite pianists should consider.

Check out the complete FlowKey review now.

2. Piano In 21 Days

Piano In 21 Days promises to teach you to play in under one month by focusing on learning chords rather than notes and old-fashioned drills. Learning chords will help you play contemporary songs faster, and you won’t have to spend your time learning Classical music. It does not cover music theory and practice exercises as thoroughly as traditional lessons, and it costs much less than years of work with an instructor.

This program focuses on learning to play songs without sheet music, lessons, and drills. Jacques Hopkins created it because he found his 12 years of piano lessons wasteful. After quitting the traditional path, he attempted to craft a faster way to learn piano to play fun, modern, easy songs quickly. He designed the course for people who want to dabble in piano, not for those who wish to become professional pianists.

Overall, Piano In 21 Days makes a decent alternative for those who do not know if they want to pursue piano and want a trial run. They offer free material to see if you like the course, and then you can pay for different price packages depending on how much you wish to learn. You buy it one time for lifetime access to the course contents.

Read the complete Piano in 21 days review now.

3. Piano Nanny

A third online resource to learn the piano is Piano Nanny. Piano Nanny offers free lessons that take around 35 minutes to complete. They merged with Piano on the Net, the first free online music lesson course, and have built upon it to create a high-quality educational site. The instructor Clinton S. Clark has won multiple awards for his film and jazz compositions. You will find 32 lessons on the website increasing in difficulty, from Starter to Intermediate to Advanced.

You will need a physical piano or keyboard to complete these lessons, and they do not provide feedback. Considering that it is a free resource, it offers plenty of information to help you start playing the piano. However, it is not as effective as traditional instruction or the paid platforms. We recommend this website if you cannot afford to pay anything or do not want to commit to learning the piano.

4. Piano Lessons

The final Playground Sessions alternative we will discuss is Piano Lessons. This website offers free online piano lessons provided by Pianote’s instructors. They will teach you some fundamental lessons, including piano theory, scales, modes, counting, popular songs, and improvisational skills. You can take a few beginner lessons and become acquainted with Jordan Leibel and Lisa Witt’s teaching styles.

These instructors provide free live piano lessons on social media in addition to the ones on the website. Once you have completed the free classes, you can upgrade to a paid membership on Pianote for more live lessons, step-by-step courses, instructors, and a community. This resource has one of the most substantial online communities, and it is continually growing. We recommend it if you would like to try a free trial of sorts before paying for quality lessons.

While these are all acceptable alternatives, Playground Sessions rises above with their song library, gamification, price, and lessons. They are extraordinarily thorough in the quality of their coursework. However, we also recommend Flowkey if you would like something more affordable or have an acoustic piano.

Also consider: The Pianoforall online course – we like it!

Final Thoughts

If you are a beginner or intermediate-level piano player, you will benefit from Playground Sessions. Few other sites have celebrity endorsements to the caliber of Quincy Jones and Harry Connick, Jr. It caters to children and adults, and you can learn in a game-like fashion. If your family or friends want to get in on the action, you can compete against them when playing songs and utilize their group discounts.

This platform is accessible, intuitive, and informative. You can learn some music theory fundamentals from seasoned professionals, practice countless popular songs, track your progress, have an at-home concert a la Rocksmith or Guitar Hero, and get live feedback concerning your skills. While the concepts will seem too simplistic to someone who has undergone tons of traditional teaching, most will find some benefits from it.
You can purchase a Playground Sessions membership today to get started in learning to play the piano.

Also consider:

The Skoove online piano course – review

The Piano marvel course review

Pianote – my review

Last Updated on February 24, 2021 by Liam F. Admin