I remember seeing St. Vincent live at a music festival. There was something so surprisingly captivating and mesmerizing about her performance. Her energy, stage presence, and focus were spotless, and her songs suddenly took on a different meaning.
When I spotted her course on MasterClass, I was intrigued to learn more about her approach to music and creativity. I am not a songwriter, but I do play the piano, so I was hoping I had enough musical knowledge to follow her lessons.
So, did St. Vincent’s MasterClass meet my expectations, and who would I recommend it to?
In this honest review, I’ll tell you everything about my learning experience and provide you with key takeaways from the course.
Table of Contents
What is the St. Vincent MasterClass?
This MasterClass is taught by Annie Clarke, an American musician better known as St. Vincent. As an experienced and talented performer and songwriter, she has a lot to say about the music-making process. Her lessons are dynamic and versatile, containing numerous tips and honest advice that can help young musicians find their own sound.
The course also includes several songwriting demo lessons where Annie walks you through the creation of her song “Savior.” This is sort of like a songwriting guide with step-by-step explanations and Annie’s brainstorming moments.
There are 16 lessons with a duration of 2 hours and 18 minutes in total. Compared to some other MasterClasses, the course is rather short, but it’s fast-paced and well-structured, so there’s plenty to learn nevertheless.
Who is St. Vincent?
Annie Clarke is an American singer, songwriter, and guitar player. Before putting out her first album, she borrowed the moniker St. Vincent from a Nick Cave song and created a unique, memorable persona that reflects the grandiosity of being an artist.
St. Vincent is known for bold guitar riffs, unpredictable melodies, and absurdist humor. Her music is hard to categorize as she draws inspiration from a variety of genres, including rock, pop, art rock, electropop, and indie. She is sometimes compared to David Bowie, as she often changes characteristics from album to album.
Apart from her songwriting and style, St. Vincent is praised for her guitar-playing skills, and she has been listed among the best guitarists of the 21st century by multiple publications. She also won numerous accolades and awards, including three Grammy Awards.
What is the target audience for St. Vincent’s MasterClass?
At the beginning of the course, Annie says that this course is for anybody who is in the process of making something.
However, I think this course is most beneficial to songwriters and musicians who want to gain fresh perspectives and expand their knowledge. Annie breaks down her songwriting process in a very understandable way, so you can learn a lot from her, even if you’re just starting out.
She also occasionally speaks about rather abstract things related to music and creativity, and these parts of the course could be interesting and helpful to any creative.
Finally, since she talks about her career and gives examples from her work, this MasterClass is also great for her fans.
To sum things up, here are some of the people who would benefit the most from St. Vincent’s MasterClas:
- Songwriters and musicians of all levels
- Creatives (writers, storytellers, artists)
- Vincent fans
What does St. Vincent’s MasterClass cover?
St. Vincent’s MasterClass covers a whole songwriting process, including lyrics, counter-melody, and production.
This is not a comprehensive songwriting course, though. St. Vincent talks about bits and pieces of her creative process and leaves out theoretical knowledge or standard songwriting rules. She tackles some topics only briefly, which can be a disadvantage for people looking for a comprehensive, step-by-step songwriting guide.
On the other hand, the course includes songwriting demo lessons that are more detailed and insightful.
To make things clearer, here is a quick overview of all the lessons so you can get a better idea of what to expect:
- Lesson 1 is an introductory lesson where Annie talks about her career, and she came up with her moniker. She also describes the course and the topics it covers.
- Lessons 2-3 reveal St. Vincent’s approach to songwriting and her opinion that every song needs an epiphany.
- Lesson 4 includes tools and techniques for making music at home.
- Lessons 5-8 are songwriting demo lessons where St. Vincent breaks down her process of writing “Savior.”
- Lessons 9-10 tackle the challenges of being a songwriter, dealing with shame, humiliation, and self-doubt, and the importance of taking opportunities.
- Lesson 11 is a case study lesson where St. Vincent breaks down the film and the song “The Nowhere Inn.”
- Lesson 12 is about the importance of engaging with other forms of expression and drawing inspiration from different places.
- Lessons 13-14 contain tips on how to develop a good tone and textures for the guitar.
- Lesson 15 includes St. Vincent’s performance tips such as when to eat before performance and what to do before you get on the stage.
- Lesson 16 is the final lesson where St. Vincent shares her final advice to young songwriters and creatives.
My favorite lessons from St. Vincent’s MasterClass
St. Vincent is an interesting person and a good teacher. Therefore, I really enjoyed her course. It was insightful and fun to watch.
Some of the lessons I particularly liked include:
Every song needs an epiphany
According to St. Vincent, every song needs an epiphany. This epiphany can be lyrical or musical, or it can simply be a moment that leaves you mesmerized. She mentioned Nirvana’s and Leonard Cohen’s songs as examples.
Although she’s talking about a more abstract term that is not easy to grasp, St. Vincent manages to explain it in a way that makes perfect sense.
Fear, shame, and humiliation
In this encouraging lesson, St. Vincent talks openly about her insecurities and fears. These feelings of awkwardness and self-doubt are something that most artists deal with, so it’s important to become friends with your shame and accept your vulnerability.
Out of the studio, onto the stage
As St. Vincent puts it, live shows are not for you; they are for the audience. Therefore, you need to do your best to put on a great show.
To help you improve your performance, she shares concrete tips and explains when to eat, what to wear, and how to get ready for a show.
How much does St. Vincent’s MasterClass cost?
Annual plans are typically available at $120 a year (or $10 per month) for the Individual plan, providing access to MasterClass courses on one device, $180 a year for the Duo plan (two devices), and $240 a year for the Family plan (six devices).
A MasterClass subscription gives you unlimited access to a catalog of 180+ classes, so if you want to take multiple classes throughout the year, the subscription is definitely worth it. If you’re interested in music and creativity, there are plenty of courses to explore.
Also, the platform offers a 30-day satisfaction guarantee, so if you’re not happy with your learning experience, you can request a full refund.
What I liked about St. Vincent’s MasterClass
Although this is not the best MasterClass I’ve taken so far, I definitely don’t regret taking it, and there are many things that I like about it.
For instance, St. Vincent is an honest, fun, and quirky teacher with a brilliant, creative mind, and listening to her speak about music and creativity was a real treat.
Also, the lessons are quite versatile, so they kept me focused and interested the whole time. St. Vincent’s brainstorming moments during songwriting demos were particularly fun to watch, although I liked the lessons about the emotional and artistic side of songwriting the most.
All in all, I would recommend this course to anyone who wants to improve their songwriting skills and look at their music-making process from a different angle.
Here are the main reasons why I would recommend this course:
Learning from an acclaimed songwriter
Having the chance to learn from a Grammy Award-winning musician is truly amazing.
St. Vincent is a talented artist and an incredible performer, and now I know she is also a good teacher. Her mind tends to wander a bit, though, so the course felt a bit confusing at times. On the other hand, she speaks in a clear and engaging way while letting herself be spontaneous and giving plenty of honest advice.
All things considered, learning more about St. Vincent’s creative process, ideas, and inspiration was a great experience.
St. Vincent’s course is relatively short, but it covers a range of topics. Whether you want to learn how to combine chords or discover how St. Vincent gets ready for her live shows, this course has got you covered. It’s really well-balanced, providing a nice blend of practical tips, informative lessons, and entertaining moments.
Detailed songwriting demos
The part of the course that contains the most information and tips on how to write a song is the songwriting demo lessons. In these lessons, St. Vincent provides an in-depth look at her song “Savior” and walks you through its creation from beginning to end. This is a great way to learn more technical stuff and apply her advice to your own creative process.
Drawbacks of St. Vincent’s MasterClass
As you see, this MasterClass has many advantages. But I think there are potential drawbacks.
The structure could be better
As I mentioned before, I think St. Vincent is a good teacher. But at times, I felt a bit lost, and I’m not sure if that’s because of her teaching style or the course’s structure.
For instance, she talks about fear and shame and seizing opportunities, then she focuses on writing a theme song and engaging with other art forms, and then she goes back to more technical stuff like guitar playing techniques.
In my opinion, the lessons could be organized in a better way so the whole course can be more coherent and fluid.
Review conclusion: Is St. Vincent’s MasterClass worth it?
It’s encouraging to hear these words at the beginning of St. Vincent MasterClass. However, making music is not easy, and there are many aspects to consider.
In this course, Annie Clarke, a.k.a St. Vincent, manages to include all parts of the songwriting process, from writing lyrics and guitar riffs to editing and revising. She also gives helpful studio and performance tips, all while sharing personal experiences and using examples from her own work.
Although the overall structure and flow of the course could be a little better, I generally enjoyed it. Lessons were insightful and fun to watch, and St. Vincent is an interesting artist with plenty of good advice.
That being said, I believe that anyone interested in songwriting and entering the music industry should take a look at St. Vincent’s MasterClass. If you get an all-access subscription and take other courses as well, it’s definitely worth it.