Making Music

Playground Sessions Reinvents Piano Lessons

No Comments 28 November 2011

Playground Sessions Reinvents Piano Lessons

Part Rosetta Stone / part Guitar Hero, Playground Sessions is an innovative new software application that’s set to transform the way people learn music.  Beginning with the piano and keyboard, Playground Sessions teaches the fundamentals of music through hit songs originally performed by popular artists - from One Republic to Ne-Yo and The Jackson Five - allowing people of all ages and skill levels to master the music quickly and enjoyably. Elements of gaming such as real-time feedback, scoring, badging and progress visualization, takes practice from ‘a chore’ to ‘adore’ as players engage in friendly competition and challenge each other to learn how to play.

As music programs all but disappear from the cash-strapped public school system, Playground Sessions enters the marketplace at a critical period for arts and education.  Studies have shown that children who learn music at a young age score significantly higher in literacy testing, showing that aside from enrichment, music studies in schools affect how well a student does in other subjects.

And over half of adults in polled in recently published studies¹ said music is an important part of their lives and yet only 7% know how to play an instrument. The barriers to this have traditionally included excuses like ‘practice is boring’, ‘old antiquated songs are tedious to learn’, ‘lessons are just too expensive’ and ‘who’s got time?’  Pay-offs are hard to see when you’re stuck on scales, making progress slow and often frustrating. Many music-lovers take lessons when they are younger, but give it up only to regret it later in life.

Enter Playground Sessions with its Play-To-Learn™ methodology.

Now passive music listeners can become active musical participants and do so at their convenience. Unlike music-based video games, which are just games, Playground Sessions combines gaming and learning into one compelling and innovative product. Play with back-up band and full musical accompaniment, track your progress and see how you measure up against friends on the leader board. Playground Sessions is available to you day or night, whenever you want to play and learn. 

Internet sensation David Sides, a musician with more than 159 million YouTube views, was enlisted by Playground Sessions to instruct players in learning piano. A self-taught musician, who learned to play by ear at age 10 and has amassed millions of fans on YouTube for his translations of popular songs to piano, was the perfect choice to be the face of Playground Sessions. Inspiring and supportive, Sides guides you through the medium he has mastered and loves.

“Playground Sessions will revolutionize the way we learn music. Its unique methodology enables students to auto-correct themselves as they play — because they know the song. They’re encouraged with every key!” said Sides. “The return on investment, usually so far away with traditional lessons, is immediate and gratifying. You can learn to play a song in a day, and after a month, you’ve got a full repertoire.  Three months in and you’ll be playing ‘Hey Soul Sister’ at your cousin’s wedding!”

Playground Sessions was conceived and developed by ZAG NY, a brand invention division of BBH, an award winning global advertising company, and in partnership with Rain, the leading developers of custom creative software, particularly in the digital sheet music industry. “The goal with Playground Sessions was to get way more people playing an instrument by providing them with a more interactive, cooler and playful approach to the traditional process,” says Chris Vance, Managing Director of ZAG NY and CEO and President of Playground Sessions. “Allowing people to pick the songs they want to learn and getting them playing right away so they can see and hear their progress almost immediately, along with the support of an inspirational teacher, is game changing in music education.”

The gaming and learning mechanisms embedded in the Play-To-Learn™ methodology were developed exclusively for Playground Sessions by Dr. Bruce Homer and Dr. Jan Plass, founding partners of the Consortium for Research and Evaluation of Advanced Technologies in Education (CREATE) at NYU.  “Playground Sessions is one-hundred percent learner centered,” say Plass and Homer. “It is designed to take advantage of what we know about how people learn —enhancing engagement and motivation, adjusting instructional levels to be at the right level of difficulty for the learner, giving feedback that guides future learning and so on— to deliver the most effective method for learning to play music, even for beginners.”

Playground Sessions is available as downloadable cross-platform software for PC and MAC and is compatible with any USB/midi enabled keyboard currently on the market. An extensive song library of Top 40 hits is arranged for beginner, intermediate and advanced skill levels. It will retail for $149. with additional song purchases available for $6 each.

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