What is Masterclass?
Masterclass was started in 2015 by entrepreneur Aaron Rasmusson and film editor/director David Rogier. It is an online education platform based in San Francisco and targets creative professionals. This of course does not mean that you have to travel all the way to San Francisco to take a Masterclass.
Masterclass courses and their learning materials are accessible through your computer or mobile phone. These can be consumed at your own personal pace.
Some of the tutors at Masterclass include James Patterson for thriller, David Mamet for dramatic writing, Helen Mitten and Samuel L Jackson for acting, Armin Van Buren for dance music, Steve Martin for the art of comedy, Aaron Sorkin for screenwriting and directing lessons from Ron Howard. Chef Gordon Ramsey can even teach an aspiring chef how to cook scrambled eggs with white truffle in it.
This class offers a great experience with too creators who normally you would not get access to.
Who Can Take A Masterclass?
I have taken a lot of online courses and I noticed that most online courses teach students business skills like marketing or skills that are more practical like web development or coding.
Students who prefer a more hands-on approach from teachers like for example, a classroom setting, should not take an online class.
If you are good with online courses then Masterclass may just be for you. It can be taken by writers, painters, photographers, musicians, artists, chefs and creative professionals. What's more, you get to learn at your own personal pace and using your device (computer or mobile phone).
Let's Go Through A Masterclass
In this section I'll walk you through my first Masterclass. I decided to take Steve Martin's art of comedy class for during that moment I was writing a comedy script that would be competing at the National Drama Festivals. Also, I have always been a big admirer of Steve Martin's, it felt right to start off with
this class. His teaching method is through telling tales of his colorful career, and fusing it with the art of comedy. I was really excited when taking this class because you have to realize that getting access to such quality materials in the real world is not that easy.
Steve Martin's Master class has 25 lessons. Each lesson averages between 5-10 minutes. This made it easy for me to finish the course in good time. I could even squeeze in time for a lesson during my lunch breaks.
During the first lesson, Steve basically gave in-depth details and tales on his autobiography. It was interesting to hear how he started from nothing to being awarded one of the top awards for comics in US. It was however mind blowing to have Steve Martin himself narrate it to me (of course together with many others that I can't see which totally makes it feel like he's narrating it to me). The video shows him in his office speaking straight into the camera. In some other classes the teacher has an audience of students. So as he/she teaches the students you get to watch live.
Also available are reading materials from every lesson. There are plenty of downloadable worksheets and reading lists that need to be gone through.
There is also a class workbook that has a summary of the key points in every lesson. In addition to that, it has extra space for note-taking together with additional studying materials. You always have access to workbooks for every course you have ever taken.
A Masterclass costs $90 or €70. This package comes with a 30-day money back guarantee if the student is unsatisfied. For those taking more than one Masterclass, it is advisable to buy an All-Access Pass that goes for $180 or €150 annually. You get to save hundreds of dollars in the long run.
For those who are a bit tight on cash and are looking to hook onto the free trial wagon, unfortunately, there isn't one.
Top Masterclass Courses To Consider
Not all Masterclass courses are useful. However, I assume if you decided to study online then you already know what you wanted to study.
If you wanted to study becoming a writer then you should probably consider the following courses on Masterclass: David Mamet for dramatic writing, Aaron Sorkin for screenwriting, James Patterson and Malcolm Gladwell for writing.
A musician on the other hand should consider Usher Teaches The Art of Performance, Deadmau5 Teaches Electronic Music Production, Christina Aguilera Teaches Singing or Herbie Hancock Teaches Jazz.
Masterclass has managed to break into other areas that are beyond just the creative arts and writing.
This, in just a couple of years. Let me give you a few examples to explain what I mean.
Serena Williams has a Masterclass where she partly teaches tennis, Academy award winner Hans Zimmer is a teacher of film score, Golden State Warriors forward Stephen Curry teaches basketball, Martin Scorsese and Werner Herzog teach filmmaking, Chess World Champion Garry Kasparov teaches chess, Annie Leibovitz teaches photography and Chris Hadfield teaches space exploration.
All of these and more classes are very interesting, a student can however not take interest in all of them.
I think Reba McEntire is a very talented singer but you will not catch me signing up for her country music Masterclass anytime soon.
There are other classes such as James Patterson's where you need to be familiar with their works.
Reading some of his thrillers will help you learn better from him.
What Are The Masterclass Courses That I Took?
If you are still not sure about what it is you want to study, why not take a different angle? Instead of the course, consider the teacher.
Do I like this teacher?
Do I like his or her materials?
That ought to get you started.
For me, when I first took a Masterclass I already knew what I wanted to study. As mentioned earlier, I was working on a comedy script, hence why I took "Steve Martin Teaches Comedy". Stand-up comedy isn't something I would try, but I'm still a great admirer of Steve Martin's.
The next class I took was David Mamet's because I wanted to learn screenwriting. David is a dramatic screenwriter, which was perfect for me. David's methods of teaching are more direct in comparison to Steve's, both teachers are just as knowledgeable.
I took more lessons after I was done with those. Aaron Sorkin's films have always been my favorites growing up so I took his classes. I was more than happy to get to know the creatives behind such art.
The other classes were David Lynch's, James Patterson's, Neil Gaiman's and all of Malcolm Gladwell's Masterclass. It is pretty evident from the above list that these courses are based off my personal interests. Although one or two were sparked by curiosity.
Review of Top Masterclass Courses
Steve Martin Teaches Comedy
Of course this had to be first in line. I am very familiar with Martin's Comedy. I have watched almost all of his stand-up shows and even read his autobiography Born Standing Up.
In his class, Martin explains what it took to find his comic voice. He also shows how he uses this voice to write and deliver jokes.
I also got great quotes from the top comic for example, "Don't be intimidated starting with nothing. In fact, if you start with nothing, the workaround can lead you to originality."
Martin also has a workshop that features aspiring comedians. In this workshop he shows how he manages his career on both the stage and on screen.
The lessons do not take up much of your time and come accompanied by reading materials such as PDFs. Martin is an engaging instructor and this course shows you how he approaches comedy writing.
If you are planning on taking this class, I recommend you read his book Born Standing Up. It gives you context on what he teaches.
Malcolm Gladwell Teaches Writing
In addition to the fact that I love nonfiction, I have read Malcolm's books Outliers and Blink.
Gladwell teaches on how he approaches his research before he starts writing. He also gives tips on how to market your writings and books.
In one of his lessons Gladwell explained how it was a bit hard for him to see his books' arguments and ideas misconstrued by some of his readers. He further explained that once a writer puts out something to the world, soon as they press publish, the writing no longer belongs to them. That was my biggest
takeaway from Gladwell's course.
"Once you've written something, it no longer belongs to you. It belongs to your readers. When your readers buy your books, they really buy your ideas and your ideas become theirs." He said.
If you are looking to improve your nonfiction writing and research skills, I highly recommend taking this
Neil Gaiman Teaches the Art of Storytelling
From the moment I set my eyes on this course's setting I was in love. It is set in some sort of secluded cabin in the woods. The setting sets the mood just right for the lessons, guess that was the intended purpose. Neil Gaiman's course has a total of 19 lessons which average between 14-25 minutes in length. The
lessons come with downloadable materials such as PDFs, supplementary reading materials and writing exercises. Below is one example of an exercise:
"From your works, pick a writing of your choice, one that you recently did- or you could use one of your rewrite stories, the ones from the first writing exercise given in this chapter - and condense it by at least a third. If you deem it necessary to rewrite it completely then go ahead. Use an economical way to tell the story.
The lessons cover everything from writer's block (which he terms a myth) to editing and to the writing rules.
If you want to become a novelist, or have a great story to tell but don't know where to start you can start here, with Neil Gaiman's Masterclass.
David Lynch Teaches Filmmaking
This course was launched in 2019. Each lesson averages between 15-25 minutes in length.
David Lynch has directed great films like Mulholland Drive and Eraserhead. Although I'm not a filmmaker, I was curious to hear where from and how Lynch gets his ideas.
The setting of the class is in a film studio with creepy music, just like his offbeat films.
Lynch's Masterclass is practical as he even uses snippets from his TV shows and films as learning examples. He has a very intriguing creative process in his lessons, he covers topics like:
● Catching Ideas
● Staying Through To Your Ideas
● Creativity and the Writing Process
In comparison to other Masterclasses, David Lynch's had less downloadable study materials.
If you are an aspiring filmmaker I believe you will learn a lot from David Lynch.
Masterclass puts a great emphasis on the community aspect of its teaching process. It is for this reason that they created a Hub. Here students can engage in discussions about their lessons with fellow students. You can also ask questions, and post some of your work.
The Masterclass Hub
I did not spend a lot of time in the Hub. However, I believe it serves as a good resource to those students who learn better when they're learning from each other. Since its inception in 2017, Masterclass has rolled out several improvements to the Hub.
This is a Masterclass feature where students get to address their questions to the teachers. Although a good initiative, most of these questions may go answered and that is not very encouraging. With that being said, below are the pros and cons of Masterclass.
● Get an in-depth look at your teachers - it feels inspiring to watch professionals you look up to open up about their creative process, their techniques and how to do what they did. Hearing some of their life experiences us very encouraging.
● Great quality imaging - Masterclass videos are shot in high definition and professionally and thoroughly edited. The quality remains the same through all the lessons.
● Regular addition of new materials - This is one of the things I love most about Masterclass. I added Malcolm Gladwell Teaches Writing to my watch list after I saw a prompt on the new additions. This means you probably may never ran out of content to learn. Just in 2019 they launched Jodie Foster Teaches Filmmaking and Will Wright Teaches Game Design and Theory.
● Unique instructor techniques - Each teacher gets to use their own methods of teaching. For example Dan Brown in his teaching uses the Da Vinci Code as a character case study and Margaret Atwood uses the story A Handmaid's Tale as a speculative fiction case study.
● Easy to use app in phone - Using the mobile app you are able to save your favorite lessons. You can also adjust the playback speed and best of all, you get to watch from anywhere and at any time.
● Affordability - In comparison to other online writing courses, Masterclass is affordable. You can start writing from as little as $90 or €70.
● Teachers drifting off topic - Masterclass is targeting a very wide audience. It is for this reason that I believe some of the teachers haven't quite found their audience. In some cases you may catch a teacher completely drifting off topic.
● No feedback from teachers - Although I have learnt to embrace online learning. It is such a bummer when you have a burning question and can't ask at the end of the lesson.
● No downloading videos - Some other online courses let you download your lessons but Masterclass does not.
Masterclass Vs The Great Courses
The Great Courses is not an online writing course. Instead it's an online course that offers college-level courses. The courses are taught by noted lecturers and professors. Although The Great Courses still has several storytelling and writing courses.
When it comes to pricing, Masterclass costs $90 or €70 and you can buy it at their site or mobile app.
The same case goes to Great Courses. You can buy from their site or mobile app for around $39.99.
If you have an Audible subscription then you'd best get Great Courses. You are able to purchase it from within Audible.
Unlike Masterclass which features a lot of celebrities such as Neil Gaiman or Steve Martin as their teachers, Great Courses features academics and scholars as lectureres, people you've probably never heard of. This is because the courses offered at Great Courses are more academic in nature.
With regards to course length, Masterclass courses are averaged between 5 to 15 minutes long. Great Courses on the other hand has lessons that ate between 35 to 40 minutes long. I have a friend who even purchased a course that was over 35 hours long!
Masterclass Vs CreativeLive
CreativeLive is an amazing alternative for Masterclass. It has more courses than Masterclass.
Masterclass has courses that cover other content ideas aside from writing such as cooking classes with Chef Gordon Ramsay or DJing with Roger Sanchez. These are courses you are unlikely to find offered on CreativeLive.
Masterclass also has higher profile instructors in comparison to those at CreativeLive.
Masterclass Vs Udemy
Just like Masterclass, Udemy courses cover almost everything. From psychology to entrepreneurship to writing nonfiction. What's more, these courses are at times offered at bargained prices.
Udemy materials and content may vary in quality. This is because anyone is allowed to create and sell on Udemy. It also regularly serves discounts of up to 90% to its customers and students.
Although the topics covered at Masterclass are fewer than those at CreativeLive, at Masterclass you are always guaranteed high quality materials.
Is Masterclass Worth It?
In order to enhance my writing skills and planning methods, I have taken several learning courses. Some in a traditional classroom setting, others online. Every study method has its advantages and disadvantages. Getting the most out of your learning process first and foremost depends on what kind of learner you are. Once you've figured this out, your learning will then depend on how much time you have, and how much money you're willing to invest in your studies.
If you are a writer on a budget looking to heighten your creative process then I definitely recommend Masterclass. If you are planning on taking more than one course then I suggest you get the All Access plan. If you end up not satisfied you can take advantage of their 30-day money back guarantee.
If you are a creative professional looking to perfect your skill from masters of your profession then Masterclass is for you. You can learn from experts and Hollywood icons without having to spend your entire fortune.
Masterclass has a variety of courses for different professionals, with a workbook benefit.
Yes, Masterclass is totally worth it.
Can I Watch Masterclass On My TV?
Very possible. There is a dedicated Apple TV App for Masterclass. If you are not using an Apple TV then use Google Chromecast with the Masterclass phone app.
Any Masterclasses For Writing Children's Work?
Yes. Consider taking a class by R.L. Steiner whose specialty is writing for young audiences.
Are There Classes In Basic Programming Or Coding?
Masterclass focuses on softer creative skills such as writing , cooking, music, etc. So, no.
How Can I Cancel Masterclass?
Before your All Access Pass expires, cancellation can be done through your account settings. You can also make use of the 30-day refund policy.