Flowkey vs Playground Sessions – Find Out WHY Neither is A Useless Piano Program

By James  •  Updated August 16, 2020

There are plenty of similarities between Flowkey and Playground sessions. While both are far from being the perfect online piano course, they do have their benefits when it comes to teaching songs. Making use of advanced music learning technology, Flowkey, and Playground Sessions both bring something new to the table. 

So between the two, Flowkey vs Playground Sessions, which is the better program? Let us find out in this Flowkey vs Playground Sessions review.

Flowkey in a Nutshell

Flowkey Logo

Flowkey is an online piano course created to teach students how to play songs from its massive library. Created in 2015, it is a relatively new program in collaboration with and advertised by Yamaha Music (1).

In terms of lessons, Flowkey does not have any aside from the basics. While it does teach a couple of lessons in hand positioning and proper posture, it does not go further than that. 

What Flowkey boasts is its large song library and an in-depth song-teaching technique. 

The library contains over 500 songs in 20 genres. These genres include pop, classical, film & TV, romantic, game, jazz, melancholy, evergreens, happy, rock, partners, groovy, kids, traditional, R&B, energetic, mellow, Christmas, Asian pop, and smooth. Even with the huge number of songs to learn, Flowkey is still updating the library and adding even more. 

Flowkey is available on multiple platforms such as PC, MAC, iOS, and Android and can be accessed via a web browser. It is also easy to get started! All you need to do is connect Flowkey to your electric or MIDI piano and you are ready to go. You can also use your device’s microphone to pick up the notes as you play using your acoustic or grand piano. 

Everything you need to know about Flowkey is in my previous review! Go check it out.

 What are the Advantages of Flowkey

  • Game-like approach to learning songs. For fans of rhythm games, you will be pleased to know that Flowkey has the same mechanics. Just simply follow the notes displayed on your screen. If you get it right, it will turn green. If you make a mistake, the note will turn red.
  • Several modes for easier learning. Flowkey uses three modes when teaching songs. The “Wait Mode” plays the song at your pace, only moving to the next note after you press the current one. The “Slow Mode” reduces the tempo of the song to 50%. Lastly, you have the “Fast Mode” which plays the song in its normal tempo.
  • Huge song library. With this course, there is something for everyone. The sheer number of songs in their library ensures this. If you still cannot find anything you like, no problem! They are still updating and adding more songs as of this writing. 
  • Advanced way of teaching songs. Learning songs has never been easier with Flowkey. Just plug your electric or MIDI keyboard in or use your mic and you are good to go!

What are the Disadvantages of Flowkey

  • Subscription-based. Flowkey is a subscription-based program. While it has an option for lifetime access, the price for this is quite steep.
  • No emphasis on technique and theory. This course has its own small set of lessons yet it is very clear that their purpose is simply to teach students just enough to get them playing.
  • The microphone connection is laggy. Many students who have used Flowkey before with their acoustic or grand pianos have found that Flowkey’s note pick-up speed is slower when using the microphone. Hence, most students prefer to use an electric or MIDI keyboard.

Playground Sessions in a Nutshell

Playground Sessions Logo

If you want online piano lessons that encourage your musicality, then Playground Sessions is the right match for you. This online course’s strength lies in the beginner, intermediate and advanced lessons it contains. Here’s a more comprehensive review of this online course. 

Similar to Flowkey, Playground Sessions is another music learning app that is promoted by Yamaha Music (2). Created by the legendary Quincy Jones and taught by renowned pianists David Sides and Harry Connic Jr., you are sure to get fun, educational lessons. Created in 2010, Playground Sessions has been around for a decade and has taught thousands of students.

The lessons, just like in Flowkey, have a game-like format. The mechanics make students play the notes displayed on the screen. If a student gets it right, it turns green. If a student gets it wrong, it turns red. This kind of learning technique teaches students how to listen to musical patterns as well as improve sight-reading.

The lessons and exercises in this course are highly customizable. You can slow them down, speed them up, loop a specific segment, and even add a metronome to aid your rhythm. 

For PC, MAC, and iOS users, you will be pleased to know that Playground Sessions are available on your platforms. Unfortunately, this course is not available on Android.

What are the Advantages of Playground Sessions

  • Co-created by Quincy Jones. Unfortunately, the lessons are not taught by Quincy Jones himself. However, knowing that someone like him had a hand at organizing the curriculum is exciting.
  • Taught by renowned pianists. The lessons hosted by David Sides and Harry Connick Jr. are short but educational. Having these famous pianists teach you how to play the piano is a proud moment for anybody.
  • Game-like lessons and exercises. This type of teaching motivates students to keep learning. Playing the piano has never been more fun.
  • Immediately starts you on making music. The lessons are taught within a song. As you go through them, you also make your progress in learning the song. It always feels as if you are working on finishing a song!
  • Encourages musicality. Many courses crackdown on theory and technique. However, they forget that musicality is also a part of being a great instrumentalist. With this course, you get to learn by ear as well as practice sight-reading.
  • Customizable lessons. The lessons in Playground Sessions can be adjusted to fit your needs. It does not assume anything and lets you go through the lessons at your own pace. It also provides you with several useful tools like a digital metronome!
  • Backing tracks are present. When you learn a song, they come with backing tracks. This way, you hear what it sounds like if you played with a band!

What are the Disadvantages of Playground Sessions

  • No visual aids. While it is pleasant to see an instructor on screen, there are not enough visual aids to keep the lessons interesting and eye-catching. This may cause students to lose interest.
  • Not very focused on music theory and techniques. This course truly encourages every student’s musicality. However, this does not make up for the fact that it still lacks a considerable amount of lessons in theory and technique. These are fundamentals that every beginner must learn before proceeding to harder lessons.
  • Subscription-based or expensive lifetime access. This course is subscription-based. It does have an option for lifetime access, but it is a lot more expensive than most piano lessons online.
  • You have to buy songs. Unfortunately, the songs in their library are not free. With a free subscription, you get 5 free songs monthly. With a premium subscription, you get 40 free songs. If you want more, you will have to buy each song for an additional $1.99.

Flowkey vs. Playground Sessions: Pricing

First, let us compare Flowkey’s and Playground Sessions’s prices:

Time

Flowkey

Time

Playground Sessions

1 month$19.991 month$17.99
3 months$38.973 monthsNot Available
6 monthsNot Available6 monthsNot Available
1 year$119.881 year$119.88
Lifetime$299.99Lifetime$289.99

As you can see, Flowkey is more expensive than Playground Sessions. This, to me, is surprising because Playground Sessions has significantly more lessons and extras than Flowkey. However, it is important to remember that you still have to purchase songs from Playground Sessions. Flowkey, on the other hand, gives you full access to their library of over 500 songs once you go premium.

Playground Sessions vs Flowkey Comparison

In this section, I will be comparing the programs based on their features, including music theory, bonus lessons, genre, number of songs in the library, techniques, curriculum, song teaching, affordability, and value. Let us take a look:Flowkey vs Playground Sessions ComparisonEven though Playground Sessions barely touch on music theory and technique, it is still better than nothing at all. For this reason, I give Playground Session the win for music theory and techniques. Playground Sessions also provide bonus lessons in style and improvisation while Flowkey does not.

When it comes to the variation in music genre and the number of songs in their library, however, Flowkey is the definite winner. Flowkey gives you an all-access pass to their library once you go premium whereas Playground Sessions gives you between 5 to 40 songs. If you want more songs in Playground Sessions, they have what appears to be an iTunes library. You can select new songs here but you will have to pay an additional fee.

Flowkey vs. Playground Sessions: The Verdict

Playground Sessions Award

For this comparison review, neither of the two courses is useless. Both possess different features that are helpful to student learning. But with regard to the battle between Flowkey vs Playground Sessions, Playground Sessions wins!

Playground Sessions is not a perfect course, but it helps a beginner learn how to play the piano. It provides a comprehensive course outline, a hefty amount of video lessons, and exercises that ensure learning for every student. 

With a few improvements, Playground Sessions could become a formidable online piano lesson. A little revamping on the video lessons to make them more interesting can certainly help the case. They do not have to go overboard with the visual aids, instead, just add in the right amount for easier understanding and a more attractive visual experience.

Additionally, more free songs, especially for premium users, should be added to the list of improvements to make this course better. Five free songs for an annual premium subscriber is just not enough, and surely, they can do better than that. If other piano courses can do it, Playground Sessions definitely can, too.

Lastly, they should focus more on lessons about technique and theory. Do not get me wrong, musicality is a very important skill to have. However, no pianist should ever forego music theory and technique.

All in all, Playground Sessions is a pretty decent course. It may not turn you into a professional concert pianist, but it will teach you how to play songs and become a decent accompanist. 

As for Flowkey, admittedly, the course is not very good if you want to learn how to play the piano. 

I would not recommend a beginner–or anyone for that matter–to solely rely on Flowkey for piano lessons.  However, Flowkey is a fantastic supplementary course for anyone who is already taking lessons. If you already have a coach and are looking to add a few songs to your repertoire, then you can rely on Flowkey.

Once you go premium, you have full access to more than 500 songs and more. Flowkey has a plethora of genres available for every musician.

Need to read more about Flowkey or Playground Sessions? You can find out more about Flowkey when you visit their official website here (3)and Playground Sessions on their official website here (4).  You may also check the review of online piano learning apps to learn more.

References

  1. https://usa.yamaha.com/promotions/flowkey/index.html
  2. https://www.yamahamusicsoft.com/learn-to-play/playground-sessions/learn
  3. https://www.flowkey.com/en
  4. https://www.playgroundsessions.com/