Mariah Carey is taking us inside her Butterfly Lounge in her new MasterClass. The Mariah Carey MasterClass focused on songwriting, lyricism, and producing using your voice as your instrument. You’ll learn more about recording background vocals and getting started in the music industry.
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Who Is Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey is a singer and songwriter who has had 19 No. 1 records and five Grammy Awards to date. Dubbed Billboard’s “Greatest Female Artist of All Time”, Mariah Carey is known most for driving us to abject insanity each December with her Christmas hit All I Want For Christmas Is You. (Okay, that last part was maybe more my opinion than fact. And in all honesty, that has been my favorite Christmas jam for at least half the years I’ve been alive. But if you had any doubt before you definitely know who she is now.)
She is the author of two books, The Christmas Princess and The Meaning of Mariah Carey.
What Mariah Carey’s MasterClass Covers
Mariah Carey’s MasterClass topic (you probably guessed it) is singing. This Christmas song singin’ lady is here to teach you all about using your voice as your instrument.
Mariah Carey’s MasterClass is only 9 lessons long making it a rather small course from this company. Coming in at just under 1 hour and 45 minutes of watch time, this class leaves a bit to be desired in depth and length.
Here’s what lessons are included in this MasterClass:
- Meet Your Instructor: Mariah Carey
- Producing With Your Voice
- Lyricism: Write Abou the Realness
- Writing With Samples
- Background Vocals, Part 1
- Background Vocals, Part 2
- Instrumentation and Emotion
- Taking Care of Your Voice
- Surviving in the Music Industry
Mariah Carey’s MasterClass is offered with the yearly membership to MasterClass. You’ll have your choice of memberships, the cheapest of which is $180 per year. Beware: they love to position the monthly cost but there is no monthly payment option. If you have no desire to watch any other classes then you will be paying $180 to watch only one class. If you plan to watch many classes, however, the price per class when broken down is much lower. (Something like around 90 cents per class.)
These are the current membership prices:
Individual – $15/mo or $180
Duo – $20/mo or $240
Family – $23/mo or $276
This class comes with a 30-page guidebook. I definitely recommend reading through the guidebook as it has useful information that is covered more in-depth than within the video course. I’d also like to point out, if you are watching simply because you’re interested in Mariah Carey herself then you’ll also find entertaining material within the guidebook.
What We Liked
While you might have caught on that I’m not a huge fan of this MasterClass, I do want to highlight all the ways I thought it was good and useful for aspiring vocalists.
Her lessons on lyricism and writing with samples are both useful. In them, she provides information that aspiring and working songwriters can use to guide their practice. If you are a songwriter you should definitely at least check out those lessons (numbers three and four).
Gives a Look at Process
You get to see first-hand the process of producing and working on background vocals. While there isn’t much actual teaching going on, there is a lot you can glean from watching pros in action.
Gives Advice on Working in the Music Industry
The music industry is predatory in many ways. I think this is fairly common knowledge even to those of us outside of the industry. However, Carey provides advice that I think is incredibly useful for all aspiring vocalists to hear.
What We Didn’t Like
I want to remain positive on this course. While I don’t think I’d recommend it, I also want to encourage those aspiring to enter the music industry to watch it anyway. Why? Because for under two hours of your somewhat passive time, you might learn something new.
However, to get us started this is what I added to my notes as I was working through this class:
“Maybe I just can’t stand Mariah Carey’s voice or her music or the content of this MasterClass but this one was quite difficult to get through. It did a ton to illustrate how talented her team is and very little to teach those who want to learn to use the voice as an instrument. I’m trying not to hate on it too hard as I know how influential and talented Carey is.”
Her Personality Is Lacking
I haven’t watched a ton of interviews with Carey so I don’t have a good indicator of her normal personality. But, for whatever reason, she came off as grating and a bit aloof in this MasterClass. Compared with other teachers that MasterClass has hosted, she also just isn’t as passionate and warm. She has a detached style that is neither strict, blunt, and in your face nor encouraging, passionate, and warm. She’s just there and a lot of time her summarizing information is saying “I don’t know how to explain it.”.
Not Enough Actionable Advice
The MasterClass spent a lot of time just listening to her sing and having other people figure out how to make the music. I’m going to go out on a limb here with the risk of sounding ignorant, but I’d write all sorts of songs if all I had to do was hum a melody and people would figure out how to compose it. If this is part of her process, I feel it could have been contained in a 30-second clip rather than sitting through more than was bearable while she can’t even list off the note she’s singing.
Carey Just Isn’t a Teacher
I don’t know how the process for developing a MasterClass course works and how much of it is directed by the person who is the expert. I have found that some of these masters are incredible talents (no doubt Mariah Carey falls into that category). They can talk about their journey and walk you through their processes, but they simply aren’t teachers.
Teaching is a skill in and of itself. There’s nothing wrong with not being naturally inclined to teach, however, I’m going to put this on MasterClass by saying I wish they would better vet who is good at teaching when selecting hosts for their courses. Alternatively, they could provide the resources to guide these experts on teaching methodology so they can learn how to articulate their processes. This would help them to take their knowledge and translate it into information that is actionable for listeners.
How to Get the Most Out of This Class
To get the most out of this MasterClass you’ll need to watch the video course and read through the guidebook. You’ll want to already have a strong grasp on the technicalities and mechanics of singing—this definitely isn’t beginner-friendly.
Best Lesson: Take Care of Your Voice
In ‘Take Care of Your Voice’, Carey finally gets into actionable advice for protecting your voice. She covers the importance of humidifiers and explains a technique for testing if you can hit a high note.
I also wanted to highlight ‘Surviving in the Music Industry’ as another useful class. She warns against working with predatory people within the industry and explains the players within the industry you’ll need to be familiar with. She highlights how the industry isn’t always fair and encourages you to ask for production credits if you think you deserve them. I have to say, I admire her for standing up and holding her ground to get what she deserves when it comes to writing her music and receiving recognition for it.
If you only watch two lessons, watch these two.
Worst Lesson: Producing Your Voice
This is the lesson where I started getting irritated with Carey’s course. Unfortunately, it’s the second lesson. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is gold here for those looking for it. I found her interactions with the string quartet annoying as if she was annoyed with the quartet for not producing her hummed notes correctly. Meanwhile, her extremely talented partner (Sam, maybe?) has perfect pitch and is able to guide the quartet for Carey. I want a MasterClass from him, he has a cool personality and a clear talent I’d love to learn more about.
Who Is This MasterClass Best For?
This MasterClass is best for singers or songwriters who already have a handle on the technical aspects of their craft. If you love Mariah Carey as a single and are interested in her journey, this is also an interesting class to sit through as you get details on her childhood and career thus far.
Who Is This MasterClass Not For?
This MasterClass is not for beginners or those looking for hands-on actionable assignments related to singing or writing. There were a few moments, like when she talked about the exercise she uses to determine if she’s able to hit a high note that day, that I saw true potential for beginners to learn something useful. But they were simply too few and far between to make this more useful than alternative options.
Similar MasterClasses You Might Like
MasterClass takes their music classes seriously, so thankfully you have a wide selection to turn to when you’ve completed this one.
If you like Mariah Carey’s MasterClass or you’re looking for an alternative, I recommend the following:
- Christina Aguilera: Singing
- Reba McEntire – Country Music
- St. Vincent – Creativity and Songwriting
- Alicia Keys – Songwriting and Producing
Mariah Carey Masterclass Review Final Takeaway – 2.5/5
Take my opinion with a generous helping of salt. I’m a writer but I’m not a singer. What appears to be a less than useful MasterClass may be the pinnacle of actionable to a vocalist. I feel that I can confidently say, if you are a songwriter then you’ll pull something useful out of this. It also gives you a realistic and candid look into the music industry.
For these reasons, I am giving this MasterClass a 2.5 out of 5 stars. It’s quick and simple and because of this, even if it isn’t your cup of tea, it isn’t a huge time commitment.