Duolingo’s new Music platform will teach you the basics of playing tunes

It’s been seven long months since the rumors first cropped up but Duolingo has finally released Music courses to its education platform.

Duolingo Music, as it’s called, will teach you the basics of playing music through the help of a digital keyboard on your iPhone. You don’t need to own an instrument. The lessons teach the names of each individual note and where they’re “located on a piano”. From there, Duolingo will show you how to read music and then “translate what you or hear” into songs. It'll eventually all coalesce into you learning how to play a full song.  The courses will even take the time to “train your ear” so you can distinguish specific notes and tell whether they’re high-pitched or low. 

As you can see, these classes get pretty involved. The primary goal of Duolingo Music is to establish a good foundation for students from which they can grow into more experienced musicians.

Back to School

We asked Karen Chow, the Teaching/Curriculum Expert at Duolingo who created the courses, what was the thought process behind everything. She told us the company “wanted to focus on teaching music literacy in a fun and engaging way.” Chow points out that other “foundations” teach music in a really “boring, dry fashion” so they aimed to do the opposite.

At the beginning of development, Duolingo identified the major tenets for their classes from the obvious, like playing instruments, to ear training. Once it narrowed things down, the company created lessons based on those tents

Duolingo states there are “hundreds of bite-sized lessons” available with many “interactive exercises”. These aim to teach music incrementally and not overload students with a flood of information. Some of the exercises include completing a music sequence and pairing up notes to audio played on a piano. Duolingo states it believes interactivity is vital to learning as it keeps people focused and engaged. All this content is shown in the platform’s signature brightly colored, bubbly UI.

Duolingo Math lessons

(Image credit: Duolingo)

In addition to the music classes, Duolingo Math is getting an update where users can learn “real-world math skills from calculating tips to identifying patterns”. The latter, according to a company representative, involves helping people understand the logic behind math. Plus, there will be courses to “sharpen [your] mental math” abilities, allowing you to calculate in your head without needing to whip out the calculator app.


Duolingo Music will be available exclusively to “iOS devices in English and Spanish” later this autumn. Users will receive in-app notifications letting them know the update is ready for download. There are plans to expand Duolingo Music to Android users and other languages, too. However, the representative couldn't give us an exact date when this second patch will roll out. Hopefully, it's very soon.

Be sure to check out TechRadar’s list of the best online classes sites for 2023 if you’re interested in picking up some new skills. 

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Duolingo’s new music lessons will cement its place on my phone’s home screen

As predicted by leaks Duolingo, the app synonymous with language learning, is expanding its portfolio into a new discipline with Duolingo Music. When it launches next month Duolingo will also be rolling out its Maths lessons (which have been in beta for around a year) to the main app, so you’ll be able to develop your math, music, and language skills all in one place.

According to the announcement trailer and press release we’ve been sent, the new digital piano experience will help develop your skills across “hundreds of interactive lessons” so you can find out how to perform “over 200 familiar tunes”. Based on what we’ve seen you’ll pick up music theory skills, as well as learn how to play tunes on an in-app virtual keyboard.

Best all, just like the existing Duolingo language courses (of which there are over 40), you’ll be able to access the music and math teaching for free. Duolingo hasn’t confirmed this with us yet, but we expect the new experiences will be ad-supported just like the existing language lessons unless you pay for Super Duolingo – we’ve also asked if this premium subscription will be going up in price because of the math and music additions.

The new music course will launch on iOS devices on October 11 and will be available in both English and Spanish. We’ve been told by a Duolingo representative that other platforms and languages will be supported “soon” but there are no firm dates yet – hopefully we’ll learn more at Duocon which also takes place on October 11.

Not leaving my home screen soon

Duolingo has been a permanent resident of my home screen for the past few months with my lesson streak currently over 110 days long. Ahead of a holiday to Belgium it was one of the language apps I used to develop my French skills, and (in an attempt to actualize my hopes of a holiday there) I’ve pivoted to learning Japanese since returning home.

The Duolingo widget shows Duo looking determined, then angry, then crying tears of sadness, and then surrounded by fire as the bird's watch glows.

The Duolingo widget is amazing (Image credit: Duolingo / Future )

The gamified courses (and the very emotive Duo widget I have set up for the app that shows the bird morphing from determined to sad to filled with the rage of 1,000 suns as the end of the day draws near and I haven’t completed a lesson) have kept me coming back for more – striking a good balance between engaging and informative. With these new music lessons on the way too, the app might have just further cemented itself to its spot on my home screen.

That said, I’m a little skeptical of the virtual keyboard experience. I’m worried it’ll be a little too small on my phone, and that playing it wouldn’t translate all that well to playing an actual piano. Given its success with language lessons, I'm hopeful the music experience will be solid too, but I'll have to hold off judgment until I’ve tried it out for myself – unfortunately, as a Google Pixel 6 user I might be left waiting a while for the Android release.

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Duolingo’s new GPT-4 AI will happily explain why your Spanish is wrong

Duolingo is launching a new virtual tutor that aims to replicate real-world scenarios to help students learn better. And it’s all powered by the recently released GPT-4 AI model.

Making its home in the new Duolingo Max subscription tier, the tutor consists of two features: Explain My Answer and Roleplay. The former, as its name suggests, gives users the opportunity to, if they’re confused by something in DuoLingo's initial response, ask the chatbot Duo to give a detailed explanation of why their answer was right or wrong. In an example video, the AI explains why select Spanish verbs must be conjugated a certain way given the context of the sentence. 

Duo, however, is not universally available on all language exercises, just certain ones. On those few, a Explain My Answer button will appear at the bottom of the screen after you attempt an exercise.

Roleplay, on the other hand, allows users to engage in a realistic conversation with the AI so they can practice their language skills. According to the post, no two chats will be exactly the same. In one instance, you could be talking to “waiter” as you order coffee at a French café or discussing vacation plans in Spanish with a “friend.” And at the end of every Roleplay, Duo will give you some feedback based “on the accuracy and complexity of [your] responses, as well as tips for future conversations.” 

Limited release

Do be aware that the GPT-4 AI behind Duo is not perfect. For the new release, research laboratory OpenAI took the time to improve GPT-3’s chat abilities so it can produce more natural-sounding text, similar to how people normally speak – at least in English. GPT-4 can create language guides such as utilizing English mnemonics for Spanish words. However, as seen on Twitter, those mnemonic guides can be pretty hilarious and not always in a good way. Duolingo admits its virtual tutor will make some mistakes. As such, the company is asking users to give the AI some feedback which you can do by selecting either the “thumbs-up” or “thumbs-down” emoji at the end of every Explain My Answer session.

Currently, Duolingo Max is seeing a limited roll-out. The AI will only be available in either Spanish or French for English speakers on iOS, but there are plans to “expand to more courses, language interfaces, and platforms in the coming months”, according to a company representative.

To subscribe to the tier, you have two methods. You can either pay $ 29.99 for Duolingo Max or $ 167.99 for the whole year. Breaking everything down, the yearly cost comes down to $ 13.99 a month. Additionally, you also get every feature under Super Duolingo which includes “unlimited hearts [for lessons], no ads, and [a] personalized review through the Practice Hub.”

While we have you, be sure to check out TechRadar’s list of the best AI writers for 2023 if you need content done fast. 

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