One of the best ways to learn to play the piano on your own is by using a self-teaching app, and in this Playground Sessions review we’ll be covering one of the most popular apps on the market.
Today, we’ll be reviewing this app inside and out. You will learn what Playground Sessions is, how it works, free and premium features of the app, its pros and cons, its cost, alternatives, and lots more.
What Is Playground Sessions?
Playground Sessions is essentially a music-learning company in New York, United States. It was originally known as ZAG Music Group, Inc., and was founded in 2010 by marketer and entrepreneur Chris Vance. Quincy Jones is well respected name in music world with with a record 80 Grammy Award nominations, 28 Grammys, and a Grammy Legend Award and a career spanning over 60 years. The app is co-created by Quincy Jones and that gives this course a lot of credibility.
The music company aims to teach people how to play the piano with the help of a piano-learning app that goes by the company’s name – Playground Sessions. The interactive application features engaging lessons with songs and videos that make the learning process quick and easy.
How Does it Work?
It is a subscription-based app which means that you will need to have an active membership to view its songs and lessons. You can choose from a monthly, annual, or lifetime membership, with each having a great value.
Once you’re subscribed to the app, you can learn to play the tune and rhythm of your favorite songs. You can learn to play the piano using video tutorials, starring famous pianists such as Harry Connick Jr. and David Sides. The app functions like a game. When you play a note right, it turns green; but if you play it wrong, it turns red. You earn scores and rewards and level up.
How Quickly Can I Learn to Play the Piano with Playground Sessions?
It won’t take long for you to learn how to play the piano with this course. The app features interactive videos with teachers that have a fun, unique teaching style. Plus, these video instructors help break down songs and music concepts one step at a time, explaining to you how to play each note and then encouraging you to play along with them. All of this makes it simple and easy to play your favorite song on the piano, and you learn to play the instrument in no time.
What Equipment Do I need?
To get started, you will need a digital piano or a MIDI-based keyboard. Ideally, you should have a 61-ley keyboard – at least that’s what the app recommends. However, you can also use an 88-key keyboard as well. The 88-key keyboard is similar to an acoustic piano and helps connect your keyboard to any digital device easily.
Speaking of a digital device, this app is compatible with PC, Mac, and iPad. So, you can choose any of these devices for easy set-up. To ensure that your instrument connects to your device, you will need a MIDI-to-USB cable or an A-to-B USB cable.
Please note that some keyboards may also need to download a driver that they can do from their keyboard’s manufacturer’s website. This will help the instrument get recognized by the app.
What’s Included With the App?
The app has several unique elements that contribute to a varied and personalized learning experience:
Fun, Interactive Lessons
You can find these in the “Bootcamp” tab, featuring excerpts from popular songs selected to teach you a particular concept. Each song comes with written instructions and gamely practices. The lessons are presented in various steps. As you play the chord, you will receive feedback via the “Instant Feedback Mode”. You will also earn points based on how well you do.
You can customize the music sheet at optimal screen size, listen to demo before playing the instrument, play with or without accompaniment, and even record yourself playing. You can also slow down the speed of the demos and games to help you practice better. The app does a tremendous job of combining reading sheet music with technology and visual aids.
Entertaining Video Lessons
The music application also features video lessons, taught by the YouTube star David Sides and Grammy-winner Harry Connick Jr. They make video lessons easy and interesting, and it’s a delight to watch them showcase their talent online! The explanatory videos come with important lessons and concepts followed by a guide to practice them on your own.
Library of Songs
This app also have a massive library of songs, belonging to different genres such as Pop, Rock, Hits, Classic, R&B, Classical, and Traditional.
There are 40 songs in total, arranged at Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced levels with their difficulty further categorized easy, moderate, or hard. You can choose to play songs depending on the difficulty level you want to play. Each song comes with a simple-to-follow music sheet to make your practice further easier.
The app also includes forums where users can share tips and tricks, get up to date news, ask important questions, and register complaints.
What is the Curriculum?
The Lessons are categorized into three major camps:
This is aimed at complete beginners and has the maximum number of lessons, comprising 84 lessons. It begins with a video lesson by Harry Connick Jr. that teaches you the notes on the piano, finger and hand positioning, and proper posture.
This section will help you get familiarized with the piano and assist you in reading notes, practicing basic rhythms, key signatures, etc. In other words, you won’t be learning to play music but getting yourself ready to play it.
You will learn to play with only one hand until lesson 29. Later, you will be introduced to playing by ear. A few popular songs that you will learn to play at this stage are “Someone like You” BY Adele, “I’ll Be There” by the Jackson Five, and “Fur Elise” by Beethoven.
This section has 61 lessons in total, of which 38 of them focus on chords and triads. You will learn everything you need to know about minor and major chords, their inversions, and chord progressions through varied tutorials and lessons.
The first part of the Intermediate Tour teaches you how to play, read, and hear chords. As you move along, you learn about complicated rhythms, more uses of major and minor chords, some tricks to figure out a song by ear. By the end of this tour, you will be ready to make your own arrangements, play chords in a band, or play in accompaniment.
The Advanced Tour consists of 21 lessons that cover understandings of the 16th notes, melodies, voices, and dominant seventh. You will also find practice material on these lessons for improvisation.
In this section, you will learn to play “Baba O’Riley” by Who, “Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M, “Stairway To Heaven” by Led Zeppelin, Good Riddance (Time of Your Life), “As Time Goes By” by Frank Sinatra, “Behind Blue Eyes” by Limp Bizkit – to name a few.
You will also come across supplemental lessons as you unlock advanced levels. These lessons will give you a more detailed view and understanding of various piano-playing skills – reading music, coordinating hands, and the likes. These courses include:
As you get access to the app, you won’t be able to see these lessons right away. You will only find them as you have unlatched your first course.
The app offers three types of memberships:
While the cost is lower than other online piano lessons, It also offers special memberships for family plans:
This app does not offer any free package to its users. To play your favorite songs and watch interactive lessons and videos, you will need to buy their membership.
What Do You Get for Playground Sessions Premium?
As stated above, the app has three types of memberships; and they offer the following features:
What are the Pros and Cons?
Who Is This App Best For?
This app is best for beginners, aged 7 or above. The app features a game-like layout, which makes the video tutorials and lessons fun and interesting. This app is also ideal for those that may have basic knowledge of piano playing but want to learn intermediate/advanced skills and practice their favorite songs.
Is Playground Sessions Worth It?
This app is absolutely worth it if you want to have fun while learning to play your favorite songs on the piano.
Keep in mind that the app’s advanced level is still quite elementary. So, if you want to learn some higher-level piano lessons to take your playing to new heights, Playground Sessions may not be an apt choice.
Playground Sessions Alternatives
Playground Sessions VS FlowKey
Both Playground Sessions and FlowKey - another online piano learning app, feature video tutorials as interactive lessons. However, the difference is that the former offers lessons by renowned pianists, making the videos more engaging and fun to watch.
Unlike Playground Sessions, FlowKey allows users to enjoy a free trial in which some courses and songs are available for free. On the other hand, Playground Sessions comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Playground Sessions VS Simply Piano
Simply Piano simply works by listening to how you play the piano, recognize the music, and give instant feedback on what it has heard. This is how it teaches its users to play the piano. It also provides a music sheet to seek guidance from. However, Playground Sessions comes with a plethora of video tutorials and lessons that help learners to play the piano.
Unlike Playground Sessions, Simply Piano offers two free courses to its players after which you will need to upgrade to a premium subscription to get access to all courses.
Playground Sessions VS Yousician
Playground Sessions features everything Yousician has, in fact, more and it comes at the same price range (depending on your payment type. It can cost you less, too).
However, with Yousician, you can learn to play three other instruments (bass, guitar, and ukulele) besides the piano. You can also improve your singing with the app’s instant feedback. Yousician also offers a 30-day free trial!
While Playground Sessions may be overly simplistic for seasoned musicians and piano experts, it's an effective tool for beginners. Whether you're teaching young children to play music for the first time or you're an adult who has dabbled with the idea of picking up the piano, this is the app for you. It's easy to use, intuitive and provides tips and tricks to push your skills to the next level.
The app is also highly adaptable to any platform that students may have in their home. Regardless if they're on Windows, Mac or an iPad device, Playground Sessions can help them expand their skill set and play beautiful music in a fraction of the time as traditional paths.
Whether you teach music or you're someone that wants to give the gift of musical ability to a young child, this application can help. I highly encourage you to take the plunge and see if Playground Sessions can broaden your child's horizon.