Want to learn piano online? If so, you’re in luck — there’s an online program for just about everyone. But while it’s nice to have some choice in the matter, the volume of courses available can make it difficult to choose which is best for you.
Today, we’ll be looking at two great piano learning courses: Playground Sessions and Flowkey. We like both of these sites, but today we’ll be doing a Playground Sessions vs Flowkey comparison to help you decide which site suits your needs best.
Introducing The Courses
Before we get into the particular features of both Flowkey and Playground Sessions, we’ll briefly introduce you to each one:
Flowkey is an online piano site that offers more features than most. It offers plenty of courses, but you can access over 1,500 song tutorials too. You can search the song library to find songs that fit both your ability level and your preferred genre.
In terms of practice features, Flowkey makes learning easy. With flow mode, the site listens to you play and waits for you to hit each note before moving on to the next. You also have the option to practice the parts for each hand individually. Plus, each lesson shows you a pianist playing as well as a scroll of sheet music.
Pros & Cons of Flowkey
- Advanced practice features make it easier to learn piano quickly
- The song tutorial of over 1,500 songs is regularly updated, and there’s something for every ability and genre preference
- Unique flow mode feature lets you play through a song slowly without getting lost
- Before you commit to purchasing a membership, you can get a free membership that gives you limited access to tutorials and lessons
- There isn’t much of a focus on learning to read music or music theory
- You don’t learn much about proper playing technique, which can be a disadvantage down the line.
This piano site has some star power behind it — most piano lessons are taught by legendary jazz musician Harry Connick Jr., and the site itself was founded in part by Quincy Jones, a renowned producer. Playground Sessions uses a lot of gamified learning to keep you motivated — notes will light up red if you play them incorrectly and green when you play them correctly.
You also earn badges as you progress, with the final badge being Piano Master. Beginners start out with Bootcamp lessons, where they can develop a strong playing foundation. Depending on your membership level, you can unlock song tutorials from the song library too.
Pros & Cons of Playground Sessions
- Progressive lessons provide a clear roadmap to new players
- Gamified learning and badge system help keep you motivated
- You can purchase keyboard and membership bundles from the site itself
- The song library includes lots of contemporary hits, which is a plus for many players
- There’s no free trial option, so you’ll need to purchase a membership to access the site
- Most of the focus is on playing songs, which can make it hard to build a strong foundation
Features Face To Face: Playground Sessions Vs Flowkey
Now that we’ve given you a general sense of both Playground Sessions and Flowkey, we’ll do a shootout on each individual feature.
If you’re taking piano lessons online for the first time, it’s important to choose a site with good course options. By taking the time to work through courses as a beginner, you can prepare yourself for a bright future as a pianist.
Both of these sites have a pretty decent course structure that’s easy to follow as you progress. Flowkey breaks its courses down into categories:
- Introduction to Piano (8 courses) — If you’re brand new to playing piano, it’s a good idea to start here.
- Playing With Both Hands (7 courses) — This is a difficult skill to master, but it’s a good idea to practice it before moving on to intermediate courses.
- Intermediate Piano Playing (6 courses) — This section will help you build your skills and delve into more advanced playing techniques.
- Mastering Chords (7 courses) — Learning and recalling chords is an important part of playing piano, and this course will give you a thorough chord grounding.
- Music Reading Training (8 courses) — If you want to learn to read sheet music, this course will take you through the basics.
- Playing Scales (10 courses) — You might think scales are dull to play, but they’re a vital part of developing dexterity.
- Playing Scales II (12 courses) — This course expands further on what you learned in the previous course.
Playground Sessions takes a bit of a different approach. Their courses are divided into Bootcamp “tour” courses and skill-specific Bootcamps:
- Rookie Tour — This course, designed for beginners, takes you through basic piano skills. These piano lessons illustrate each concept with an example from a popular song, which makes learning more fun.
- Intermediate Tour — You can progress to these lessons after the Rookie Tour, or you can start here if you already have some piano experience. This section introduces chords and scales, and it also helps you develop the skills you need to play by ear.
- Advanced Tour — This section’s lessons are each centered around a specific music theory concept. Examples include melodies, the dominant seventh chord, and songwriting.
- Keyboard Skills — This skill-related Bootcamp takes you through some of the skills you need to take your playing further. You’ll learn essential playing patterns, and you’ll also learn about proper technique.
- Notation — This course teaches you how to read sheet music, but it keeps it fun by teaching you using examples from popular songs.
- Rhythm — This section takes you through rhythmic notation, and it also helps you build confidence while playing certain rhythms.
- Playing by Ear — Playing by ear may sound like a difficult skill to master as you learn to play, but this course takes you systematically through it.
The Winner: Both Playground Sessions and Flowkey have good, thorough course options. However, we think that Playground Sessions wins this round — it focuses a little more on technique and music theory, and the in-depth courses it offers can help you progress faster.
Both of these online piano sites do well with extra lesson features, although each site takes a different approach to teaching you to play the piano.
Flowkey has a lot of unique features when it comes to practicing or doing lessons. Each lesson features sheet music scrolling at the top, and you also get to watch a pianist play each piece. (You can’t download sheet music, which is a bit of a downside.) When you need to play a note, it will light up on the screen.
When you practice, you can play in slow motion, and you also have the option to loop lessons. Flow mode is a great feature, too — the site will wait to play a note until you’ve played the one before it.
And lastly, you can choose to practice the parts for one hand at a time, which can be helpful when you’re learning to play with both hands. Here’s a sample lesson from the Flowkey YouTube channel to give you an idea of what your typical lesson looks like.
Playground Sessions, as we mentioned before, focuses a lot on gamified learning. You can get instant feedback as you play. And while taking lessons, you can earn points based on accuracy. Once you earn enough points, you get a badge and level up. On song tutorials, you can earn stars for accurate playing. Those stars can be used to unlock extra song tutorials.
The lessons themselves on Playground Sessions also will show you both sheet music and a pianist playing the music. You can slow down lessons as needed, and you can record yourself playing in order to better track your progress. Lastly, you can even choose to play with accompaniment, which can be a lot of fun. Here’s a sample lesson from the Playground Sessions YouTube channel.
The Winner: When it comes to lesson features, the Playground Sessions vs Flowkey comparison is pretty close. However, thanks to Flowkey’s great flow mode and the ability to practice one hand at a time, we think it wins this round.
Flowkey has a song library of over 1,500 songs, and you can sort by beginner, intermediate, advanced, or pro level. Like most sites, it also has a huge variety of genres. There’s no limit to how many songs you can practice, and the song tutorials have many of the same features as the regular piano lessons. We like that you don’t have to purchase songs from the library — all songs are included in your Flowkey membership.
Playground Sessions also has an impressive song library, but there are some hurdles to accessing the songs. Monthly and annual memberships come with five free songs per month, and you have the option to purchase more as needed. The lifetime membership comes with 40 free songs. Like we mentioned above, you can also earn stars by learning new songs, and you can use those stars to unlock free songs.
The song library itself has a range of genres despite the fact that Playground Sessions largely specializes in contemporary songs. This is a plus for many players — you can learn as you play your favorite songs. Once you’re in the library, you can sort by genre and ability level, which is nice.
The Winner: While we do like the idea of using songs as rewards for progress like Playground Sessions, we think that Flowkey wins this one. With Flowkey, you aren’t stuck paying extra if you want to learn extra songs.
When you’re making a decision on which online piano lessons to take, one of the most important things to consider is piano/keyboard compatibility. After all, if you already have a piano or keyboard, you probably don’t want to have to buy another.
Flowkey is the most versatile of the two learn to play sites in this regard. It can work with a USB or MIDI keyboard, but you can also use it with an acoustic piano. With an acoustic piano, you still get all the feedback you would get with a connected keyboard. This is because the site can use your device’s microphone to listen to the notes you play. We think this is a standout feature, as many sites don’t do this.
With Playground Sessions, you need to be able to connect a MIDI or USB keyboard or digital piano. You’ll need to have at least a 49-key keyboard, although some songs will require a 61-key keyboard.
The Winner: Since Flowkey lets you use an acoustic piano if you already have one, we think it wins this round.
Different online piano sites work with different devices, and it’s wise to make sure your device is compatible before you sign up.
Flowkey is compatible with a wide range of devices. You can use it on iPhones, Androids, tablets, Chromebooks, Macs, and PCs. This makes it more accessible, since you can use it on virtually any device.
Playground Sessions will work on Microsoft and Mac computers, as long as your operating system is up-to-date. It’s also available on an iPad app, which is very convenient — after all, an iPad can easily fit on any music stand. Notably, Playground Sessions will not work on a Chromebook, and you also can’t use it on smartphones.
The Winner: Because Flowkey is compatible with many more device types, we think it wins this round.
Pricing and Membership Options
If you’re looking to learn how to play the piano online, you probably want to take the membership cost into account. While the rates are somewhat comparable, each site has slightly different membership options for piano learning:
Flowkey offers a few different subscriptions, and our favorite one is the free option. If you want to check out the site without committing to a paid membership, you get a free membership just by signing up for the site. This membership gives you limited access to the song library, and you also get access to the first few lessons from most courses. This is a great way to get started with piano playing.
If you decide you want full access, you can sign up for a monthly membership. This option costs $19.99 per month, and you can cancel anytime. If you want to save money, you can opt for the annual membership, which costs $119.88. And if you’re really committed, you can opt for the lifetime membership, which is a one-time payment of $329.99.
Playground Sessions also offers a similar membership structure, although it’s a little more affordable. A monthly membership is $17.99, and an annual membership is $119.88. The lifetime membership option is $289.99. However, there’s no free trial
This site also offers family plans, which is an excellent option if multiple family members want to learn the piano. These plans are bundles that discount memberships when you buy multiple ones.
The Winner: Playground sessions is a bit more affordable and offers more payment options (plus savings for family bundles), so we think it wins this round.
Now that we’ve done a face-to-face comparison, let’s look at some of the standout features between these online piano lessons:
- Gamified learning — Playground Sessions has this feature, and we think this is great for helping you stay motivated as you learn to play the piano. You can earn stars as you play your favorite songs, and you can earn progress badges as you go. The on-screen keyboard keys light up when you play, which is a nice touch.
- Flow mode — This is a feature unique to Flowkey, but we think it’s a really important one. This feature listens to your playing — it does this through listening to a piano via your device, or through a USB or MIDI keyboard. During piano lessons, this feature waits for you to play each note before jumping to the next.
- Progress visualizations — While you can somewhat track your progress on Flowkey, Playground Sessions really takes progress tracking to the next level. This site translates your progress into charts that are colorful and easy to read.
In closing, we think that both of these piano sites have their merits. In the Playground Sessions vs Flowkey debate, we think that either of these sites is a good choice for online piano lessons. Here are our recommendations for which site might suit you:
We think that Flowkey is the best option if:
- You want to learn to play the piano on an acoustic piano
- You want unlimited access to a thorough song library
- You want a free option to try out the video lessons before committing to a plan
- You want a lot of customization options for practice.
We think that Playground Sessions is the best option if:
- You really benefit from gamified learning while learning the piano
- You want to be able to download sheet music for the songs you learn
- You like incorporating popular songs into video lessons
- You want real-time feedback as you learn piano
Learning piano is an adventure, and choosing one of the best piano sites will help make learning fun. Be sure to take your time as you choose a site. Happy playing!