The music industry hasn’t always been kind to piano enthusiasts in the way that they can’t access piano material easily or learn or play digital piano without paying a hefty price first for piano lessons. Luckily, this is a talk of the past because, today, various tools can help with learning the piano from the comfort of our own homes!
If you’re stuck at home, have a lot of time on your hands, and want to learn the piano, look no further because we’ll review a tool that’ll help you learn piano lessons online, introduce the music theory, and ease you into the world of classical songs. We’re talking about Playground Sessions!
A Quick Review of Playground Sessions
Playground Sessions is a popular learning tool that makes playing the piano much easier. With its help, users can play their favorite instrument via video tutorials, watch video lessons with famous piano teachers, and access numerous practice exercises.
What makes Playground Sessions work is its design. Basically, the video lessons, sessions, and song library are tailored for players with different skill levels and skill sets. Depending on your skill level, you’ll acquire new piano skills along the way, and the song library should nourish your musical knowledge.
That’s in addition to the fact that this software has a few credibility points on its curriculum since you’ll be playing the piano while following the instructions of a piano teacher throughout practice sessions.
In short, Playground Sessions is an excellent stepping stone for beginner and intermediate players alike and will help you play piano without help from any traditional piano lessons.
- User-friendly piano learning software with an excellent interface
- Learn piano techniques from expert teachers
- An all-around curriculum
- Track your progress through progress visualization and charts
- Extensive song library
- An excellent game-like layout
- Customized experience
- A lot of backing tracks
- Not enough material for advanced players
- Doesn’t work for acoustic piano owners
- Not enough information on music theory
- No original sheet music
- Not focused enough on musical expression
Buy Playground Sessions If:
- You know next to nothing about playing the piano
- You’re an intermediate player and want to freshen your memory on playing piano
- You’d like to know the basics of music theory and musical concepts
- Going to an actual piano lesson isn’t an option for you
- You prefer digital piano over an acoustic one
- You want a well-rounded gamified learning experience
With that said, we’ll now discuss the best features of this software in detail, so let’s dive into it!
The Playground Sessions application is an interactive, easy-to-use software, and there’s nothing too hard about grasping how it works to play your favorite popular songs.
So, you don’t really need to be tech-savvy to access any video tutorial or start piano sessions, provided that you know your way around software programs in the first place!
If learning the piano from an astute piano maestro is your goal, you should definitely invest in Playground Sessions. The app features a host of popular piano teachers. In fact, the co-creator of Playground Sessions, Quincy Jones, will teach you all about the platform’s methods and arrangements.
You’ll also get to play popular songs by the renowned musicians Harry Connic Jr., David Garcia, and Alex Ness.
Extensive Curriculum in Video Lessons Format
The first thing to know about Playground Sessions’ lessons is that they’re divided into three sections: Rookie, Intermediate, and advanced lessons.
What’s fun about these lessons is you learn a new piece of information via a popular song. When you play songs this way, you’ll be able to associate data on key signatures, hand coordination, and play chords with your favorite songs. This kind of association makes remembering the data much easier!
Of course, tracking one’s progress is a crucial feature in other piano apps, but with Playground Sessions, you get more visual aids to help you with that. For example, on the My Playground page, you’ll be able to keep track of time spent practicing, points, badges, and stars you’ve earned up to your last session.
Progress visualization is crucial for learning piano, and My Playground does a wonderful job of giving you a detailed progress chart.
One of the best aspects of Playground Sessions is the sizable music library you’ll have access to. You can choose between 500 hundred songs from various genres and learn songs that you love most!
You can choose classical, jazz, R&B, and more. Moreover, you won’t need to worry about difficulty because songs are organized based on the difficulty level you’re at.
Plus, song lessons are customizable, meaning that you’ll have several methods for playing songs and choose the one that suits you the most.
The interactive format isn’t only useful due to its convenient functions but also for the gamified functions.
If you try to start interactive lessons, the app will rate your performance in a similar manner to music game apps, only it’ll provide valuable feedback on your performance in real-time, give you awards, and badges on your performance.
To get real-time feedback, make sure that Instant Feedback Mode is turned on.
Playground Sessions offers a range of beginner lessons as well as intermediate and advanced courses that can be customized to your liking.
This app offers cool features that can help you achieve this, such as the piano demo. You can play with or without accompaniment, choose an either or both hands demo, add notes or finger numbers to your sheet music or even turn on your metronome.
What’s more, the sheets are customizable, so you can adjust the font size however you like.
It’s also worth mentioning that you’ll get printable sheet music, which is highly convenient if you want to couple your effort with outside practice and work on your skills at your own pace.
On Playground Sessions, rookie and intermediate lessons will help you with reading music and learning chords, but most of all, their practice songs have these tracks, including instruments such as drums, guitar, or strings.
That’ll make you feel more like you’re part of a band and less like you’re learning online piano courses in your room. Furthermore, you’ll have an option to slow the backing track down in case you want more practice.
As useful and educational as this app is, there are indeed some disadvantages that come with it. Here’s what you need to bear in mind.
Advanced Material Isn’t That Extensive
Unfortunately, the advanced course material isn’t as extensive as the beginner or intermediate courses. As a result, playground Sessions will seem lacking in some areas to experienced players and maestros, and an advanced video lesson might seem simple for their unique skill sets.
While this interactive software can be helpful for those who want to learn the fundamentals of music theory, advanced pianists might not find the material here too beneficial.
Not Useful for Acoustic Piano Owners
Pianists who prefer a digital piano or a midi keyboard won’t have trouble using Playground Sessions. On the other hand, acoustic piano owners won’t get the best out of this app.
Most digital pianos and keyboards have a USB connection, through which you can connect the keyboard to your device and enjoy benefits like progress tracking and rating your performance. Therefore, if someone wants to practice both ways, Playground Sessions won’t help much with that.
Not Enough Music Theory Coverage
Playground Sessions teaches players how to read music and the basics of music theory throughout the three courses. However, it doesn’t really offer vital data when it comes to the detailed version of this theory.
Music theory coverage isn’t as extensive as we hoped it to be. Most musicians consider it a serious, hard-to-tackle topic, and despite how there are three different difficulty courses, Playground Sessions only scratches the surface on music theory, unfortunately.
No Original Sheet Music
As many users have noted time and again, sheet music, even for classical music, are mostly variations and arrangements of the original piece.
While it’s nice to play an arrangement of a song, the melody and rhythm won’t come out as you wish them to be, something that most experts would consider a significant disadvantage.
However, if your primary goal here is to learn to read sheet music, originality shouldn’t be a bother for you.
Not Enough Focus on Musical Expression
This is less of a con and more of an observation. Because Playground Sessions is a software program, not an actual piano teacher, the Instant Feedback mode won’t be beneficial for expressing your feelings while playing.
You need the human element to understand how you channeled your emotions to the notes and rhythm. Indeed, Instant Feedback Mode will tell you when you hit the wrong keys and provide scores accordingly, but it won’t measure how much you emote when playing the piano.
What You’ll Learn on Playground Sessions Online Piano Lessons
Now that you know all the advantages and disadvantages of Playground Sessions, we’ll discuss the curriculum tackled on the app in detail.
The rookie lessons, or as they’re named in the app, the Rookie Tour, is, by far, the longest course on the Playground Sessions app. Consisting of 84 lessons, the Rookie section can take a while to get through.
In case you’re learning the piano from scratch, the Rookie tour will teach you everything from A to Z. Once you’re able to read sheet music and play correct notes, you’ll get into more complex exercises.
At first, you’ll practice one-handed until you reach the middle of the course, so you won’t be learning to coordinate your hands early on like other software teaches students, so it’s an extra thing to keep in mind.
To summarize, this section will cover a lot of exercises on:
- The basics of rhythm and staff notation
- Playing with two hands and coordination
- What accidentals mean
- Orienting your ear
- C Major scale
- Five-finger positioning
The intermediate section covers a substantial part of the course, with 61 lessons covering topics like left-hand triads and exercises on these topics with at least one backing track.
The intermediate section will still build on concepts tackled in the rookie section while also adding numerous exercises focused on chords, particularly chords like arpeggios, inversions, and improvising.
Later in the course, you’ll learn concepts such as swing rhythms, triplets, syncopation, and transposition.
It should be noted that an intermediate difficulty is tough to get through, though. For instance, an intermediate level of piano practicing can take a month or even a year, so brace yourself as it might take a long while to tackle this part of the course, even longer than the rookie section did!
What you’ll learn:
- How to build various chords
- Learn what triplets, syncopation, and swing mean
- Chord voicing
- Learn to use the pedal
Although we mentioned that the advanced section isn’t the best advanced piano course out there, there might be some merits to it that you can benefit from.
In this section, you’ll build on all that you’ve learned in the previous two sections, only without training wheels.
This is the shortest section in the curriculum, with 21 lessons, but there are still new concepts that you can learn here. Some of these concepts are dotted rhythms, the musical texture of voices, 16th notes, and a quick look at improvising.
There aren’t as many backing tracks as there are on intermediate and beginner sections, which makes sense, as your music is expected to sound good on its own with fewer chances of making a wrong note.
All in all, these are the key subjects you’ll learn:
- How to play 16th notes
- What the dominant 7th means
- Practicing on different genres
- Voicings and melody
There are some extra lessons that you can unlock when you progress through the course. As you play the piano and further your knowledge, some lessons will cover music reading, scales, triads, hand coordination, and exercises on these lessons.
However, you won’t have access to these extra lessons until you unlock your first course, though you might want to go through the main curriculum first before seeing what the extra material has to offer.
Playground Sessions provides great deals for those who are interested in their courses. However, if you try any of them and aren’t satisfied, their refund policy states that you can get a full refund if you cancel your subscription within 30 days.
Take a look at the following points if you’re interested to know more about these plans.
A monthly membership basically unlocks all the features and courses of Playground Sessions for your perusal. It costs about $17.99 per month.
The monthly membership also gives you five free songs per month, some extra material, classical songs, and, finally, a music theory Bootcamp.
The monthly membership perks certainly sweeten the deal. However, you might want to consider other plans if you’re looking for more of a long-run solution.
This membership doesn’t differ much from the monthly one; the difference is you get all its benefits all year long. Additionally, you’ll get more extra material. The annual membership will cost $199.88, which means you’ll pay $9.99 per month.
What’s more, you can get the annual membership at a discounted price if you subscribe on Halloween and use the Halloween promo code. This actually will give you $10 credits to purchase songs with.
As the name suggests, this membership gives you access to all courses, lessons, and exercises forever, in addition to all the features we’ve mentioned in the previous two plans.
It might look like this is the most expensive membership of the three, as you’ll have to pay $289.99, but all the content will be accessible forever!
However, unlike the other two memberships, this is a one-time payment, so it’s actually the least expensive option in the long run.
Like the annual membership, you can get the lifetime membership discount and $80 for free song credits.
Playground Sessions measures your progress, calculates scores, and gives you rewards accordingly, and that’s why many people nowadays are gravitating towards it rather than pursuing in-person lessons.
Although it might work differently from other apps and has some disadvantages, it can still prove a great asset in your pianist career.
These are all reasons enough that make this app worth the investment. If you’re interested, be sure to check out the Playground Sessions website to find more details on their curriculum and subscription plans.