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Duolingo continues expanding its curriculum beyond linguistics with Duolingo Music

The company’s tech leadership said that this new offering, like Duolingo Math before it, will complement lessons users already learned while exposing them to accessible music programming.

Duolingo Math and Duolingo Music. (Courtesy Duolingo)

The 2022 Duocon marked the preview of Duolingo Math and the indication that the East Liberty-based edtech company was branching out from language to other subjects. In 2023, at its fifth-ever Duocon, the company’s leadership made it clear that its commitment to education would not stop at math by unveiling its new music course.

Meet Duolingo Music. Although the new music course isn’t available in the App Store just yet, Duolingo CTO and cofounder Severin Hacker explained that offering new courses was necessary because subjects like math and music transcend people and cultures.

Duolingo Music lesson. (Courtesy Duolingo)

“Math and music, power personal growth, opportunity and connection — and they’re mastered through foundational skills — are perfect to learn the Duolingo way,” Hacker said.

Duolingo Music will offer users an on-screen keyboard where they learn notes on the keyboard and then on a staff. Lesson by lesson, users are taught sight-reading, playing and listening skills that they can test by playing full-length songs.

Duolingo Music key lesson. (Courtesy Duolingo)

According to Duolingo Engineering Director Vanessa Jameson, the new course was built by a team of learning scientists, music experts and engineers. Looking back, Jameson, a 2023 RealLIST Engineer, wishes she’d had more access to music education. Through Duolingo Music, she said she hopes that users can have their lives improved as she did when she transferred schools in fourth grade.

“Learning to play the saxophone that year changed everything,” Jameson said at Duocon. “As my musical skills improved, so did my self-confidence. Playing music helped me to let my guard down and feel less anxious. This helps me to make friends. Each of my teammates on music has their own story about how music has shaped them.”

Duolingo Music lesson. (Courtesy Duolingo)

Additional Duolingo Music features include Duolingo’s signature method of gamified teaching where users can learn rhythm, how to put sounds together for songs and how to differentiate between notes and sounds. And longtime users needn’t worry: Duolingo Music and Duolingo Math lessons can be used toward your Duolingo streak. Not only that, but experience points (called “XP” on the platform) earned from these courses can help users finish signature Daily Quests as well as unlock new achievements.

Jameson echoed Severin’s belief that Duolingo Music aligns with the company’s mission to make the best education since the cost can be a barrier to lessons for some music enthusiasts.

“With our course, you’ll learn essential skills like playing to a rhythm or reading notes on a staff, even if you’ve never had access to music in school or can’t afford private instruction,” Jameson said.

Duolingo Engineering Director Vanessa Jameson. (Courtesy Duolingo)

She added that studies show music is beneficial for verbal, listening and math skills. Ultimately, Jameson said that Duolingo’s interactive teaching method, as opposed to watching videos and reading from textbooks, will keep students engaged. By the end of the course, Jameson said, the company hopes users will experience enjoyable learning and put the lessons they’ve learned into action.

“When you reach the end of a song, you’ll have a moment to feel good about the points you’ve earned, and keep track of the progress that you’ve made,” Jameson said. “Are you all ready to try it?”

Interested users with iPhones can sign up to be the first to try the new music offering by using the Duolingo app.

Atiya Irvin-Mitchell is a 2022-2024 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Heinz Endowments.
Companies: Duolingo

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