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Martin Barrett
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St Vincent MasterClass Review

St Vincent MasterClass Review: Is It Worth It?

St. Vincent is one of the most electric, eclectic, extraordinary musicians of our age, capable of blurring the lines between genres or seamlessly skipping between them to forge her original path through popular music.

Equal parts futurist and traditionalist, she seems to exist outside typical temporal rules —  Even her signature Music Man guitar is a cosmic, cartoonish fusion of Flintstones and Jetsons aesthetics.

These nebulous factors cultivate a magnetism that draws people helplessly into her world, so it’s a small wonder her songwriting MasterClass has gained such popularity.

Her special brand of absurdity and ability to reinvent herself both cosmetically and musically has earned her comparisons to the late, great David Bowie.

A Bowie-esque otherworldliness just seems to come naturally to Annie Clark, which left me wondering if it’s really something we mere humanoids can learn. I took St Vincent MasterClass review to find out!

St. Vincent MasterClass: Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Annie is an awesome instructor, and it’s fantastic to spend time with her virtually
  • She offers plenty of really imaginative and helpful guitar tips that encourage new ways of thinking and approaching music
  • The online course covers often ignored aspects of being a musician, such as a self-confidence and shame
  • Vincent teaches creativity and the focus on guitar, composition, and lyrics gives the course a broad appeal
  • The course offers practical life lessons and performance tips for pursuing a career in music.

Cons

  • It’s one of the shorter MasterClass courses on offer
  • Assignments are a little thin on their feet

Course Breakdown

The St. Vincent MasterClass is split up into 15 video lessons and a “Closing Thoughts” video spanning 2 hours and 18 minutes.

A 22-page companion workbook supplements the video content, and once enrolled, you gain access to the St. Vincent MasterClass forum and insights into the music industry, so you and your cohort can get to know one another, discuss the best online courses, and share ideas — Maybe even form a band!

As for the layout of the course, it’s broken down into 5 distinct sections:

  • Meeting Your Instructor
  • The Art of Being a Songwriter
  • Roadmap to a Song and music theory— “Savior” Songwriting Demo
  • The Many Faces of St. Vincent
  • Notes on electric Guitar

Within these categories, you’ll find the following videos:

  • Meet Your Instructor: St. Vincent a.k.a. Annie Clark
  • Nun Mode: Discipline in the Creative Process
  • Every Song Needs an Epiphany
  • Basic Tools for Bedroom Composition
  • “Savior” Songwriting Demo: Early Sketches
  • “Savior” Songwriting Demo: Finding the North Star
  • “Savior” Songwriting Demo: Rewriting, Revising, & Refining
  • “Savior” Songwriting Demo: Final Mix
  • Fear, Shame, & Humiliation
  • Seizing Opportunity
  • Case Study: Writing a Theme Song
  • Tuning In to the World Around You
  • Notes on Guitar: Tone
  • Notes on Guitar: Tunings & Techniques
  • Out of the Studio, Onto the Stage
  • Closing Thoughts

Course Content

St Vincent MasterClass Review: Is It Worth It? 1

While I would have loved for this course to have been a bit longer, if only to spend a bit more time with the ever-charming St. Vincent, I think there’s plenty to sink your teeth into. 

One of the things I absolutely adored about this MasterClass is how deep Annie digs into certain topics.

For instance, the study of her hit track “Savior” plays out over the course of 4 videos where the entire creative process is broken down into easily digestible chunks.

It gives you the feeling you’re really learning the mechanics of modern songwriting rather than perhaps just dipping your toes in a number of different topics that you never truly master.

Plus, if you’re so inclined, you can whizz through the entire course in one evening, which was perfect for me, as I have a 6-month-old, and my schedule is truly bonkers at the minute.

If it was as long as, say, Christina Aguilera or Tom Morello’s course, It’d probably take me a year or so to finish.

Thanks to Annie’s insightful and measured approach, the content is all very comprehensive as well. You can extract an awful lot of value within two or three of her sentences, which, in my eyes, makes this course a worthwhile endeavor.

Is St. Vincent A Good Teacher?

As she’s so multifaceted, in many ways, Annie Clark is the perfect MasterClass instructor.

With other courses, you get just one flavor, one approach, one style, but with St. Vincent, you’re introduced to a number of different creative approaches and styles amounting to a course as eclectic as the artist herself.

She’s warm, modest, thoughtful, and helpful in her pedagogical execution, and you can really feel her passion and experience coming through in the lessons.

Is The Workbook Good?

For me, the workbook is one of the biggest flaws in the St. Vincent MasterClass.

Don’t get me wrong, all the pictures of Annie in action and the insights into her approach are really amazing, and I’m happy to have it, but it doesn’t back up the actual lessons as well as the workbooks of other courses do, ultimately limiting its impact.

I’ve done MasterClass courses in the past where the workbook was so fleshed out that it could serve as its own discrete learning resource, but to get to the marrow of the St. Vincent course, you have to prioritize the videos.

Is The Content Original?

Anyone familiar with Annie Clark will know that they’re not actually all that familiar with Annie Clark, as she’s a very reserved person who likes to keep herself to herself.

There are a few revealing interviews scattered around the web, but never has she been as forthright about her life, her career, and music as she is in this MasterClass.

In light of this, I’d say the content of this course is absolutely original and valuable, as it simply can’t be found elsewhere for free, which is a problem many people had with Tom Morello’s course.

The St. Vincent MasterClass is a window into an otherwise locked up fortress, and it makes it feel all the more special!

Who Is The St. Vincent MasterClass For?

As a guitar hero, a lyrical maestro, a fashion icon, and a singing savant, St. Vincent’s MasterClass can offer many things to a great many people.

Guitarists will love hearing about her fresh approach to writing guitar parts, singers will benefit from the lyrical and compositional content, and even non-musical persons will learn a lot from the more general life and career advice.

In fact, you don’t even need to be a fan of Annie’s music to benefit from this course.

Is This Course Beginner-Friendly?

I imagine that some of the sections can feel a little lofty to newby musicians and songwriters; take the lesson on different tunings for example.

If you’re just starting your musical journey, you won’t be quite ready to explore anything beyond standard tuning, However, generally speaking, I’d consider this a very beginner-friendly course.

You won’t be able to apply everything you learn right away, but you’ll feel the true impact of the lessons sinking in as you progress as an artist, which is impressive for such a short course.

The real benefit for beginners is the focus on the creative process and the infinite ways to approach being an artist and creating an aesthetic or voice for yourself — No matter the artistic discipline, this should always be an early lesson!

Final Thoughts

I thoroughly enjoyed the St. Vincent MasterClass. Did I learn to be as artistically fluid and eccentric as Annie Clark? No, but that’s not the point of this course.

The overarching idea behind Annie’s musings is to help you develop your own quirks and idiosyncrasies, and to this end, it’s very successful.

Annie is never trying to imprint herself on you, which is where many instructors fall short. Instead, she’s trying to help us reveal and/or create multitudes within ourselves and truly develop as artists. If that sounds good to you, then I highly recommend giving this course a shot.