If you missed my intro post, I’m doing a full review of Christina Aguilera’s MasterClass and applying it to my session singing career. I’m curious to know if it will apply to a more limited scope of vocalists, since Christina both records albums and performs live. My final post is now available here as well!
There are 23 lessons in this class, so I thought I would break them into two parts. Parts 1-11 will be in this post, and I’ll write about the rest when I am finished with them. Please feel free to subscribe or pin this so you know to come back later!
If you want to take the class for yourself, here is my link to the course! (Just so we’re clear: This is an affiliate link. They didn’t pay me to take the course or to say anything specific, but if my review makes you want to try it, I’ll make a small percentage of your class fee).
Right away, I can tell the audiovisuals of the class are amazing. I’m a big fan of Udemy for classes, but the teachers are responsible for their own recordings and I think a lot of them don’t have the best equipment. This looks like it was filmed professionally (probably by Masterclass?) and the sound is great. It’s great to look at (and Xtina is gorgeous of course) so this is easy on the eyes and ears.
It starts with a quick intro and a PDF workbook. The workbook contains a ‘suggested class schedule’ to last 6 weeks, which I already know is not going to happen for me. It’s helpful to know what classes to take in what chunks, but I’m going to have to alter the class for me.
The intro video shows Christina ad-libbing over some piano. Her voice is very powerful with an interesting placement. I talk about it in my video here:
Christina’s Faves and Warmups
Next, we reviewed Christina’s favorite singers (which I already knew because I’m a fan) and I got another workbook with homework assignments. I didn’t feel like I had learned enough for the day, so I went on to the warmup section.
Warmups are hard for me, mostly because I’m lazy and want to jump right into the song. Christina had some great advice on how to work warmups into your schedule. She also stressed not to overdo warmups, which is something I definitely do as well. I either barely warm up at all, or I warm up until I’m hoarse. This class gives me a lot to work on! Here is my video review:
The fourth video was vocal protection, which I did not make a video about because I realized I should have included it in the video about warmups. I was thrilled to know that Christina has the same obsessive need for drinks everywhere that I have. We have so much in common, you guys. We could be great friends and always fight over whose 5th water bottle is resting on the couch. Hers is geared toward stage performance, so it didn’t fully apply to my session work, but it was interesting that she keeps a plate of honey to dip her finger in between songs. Kind of gross, kind of weird, but definitely okay because it’s Christina Aguilera, and who’s going to tell her not to? Not me. She also gave advice for singers entering competitions, which does not apply to me at all. The thought of auditioning for those gives me a complete panic attack.
There is also a message board under each video, and the comments on this video were great for other ideas on preserving and healing your voice.
She’s also “very sensitive to energies in a room,” and I totally am too. CALL ME, Christina! Let’s hang out. Or, if you’ve ever wanted to be friends with Christina Aguilera, you should just be friends with me because it’s apparently the same thing (hit me up on Twitter: @MellaNation)
The fifth video is about increasing your range, which is one of the top reasons I took this course. I have a solid 3 octaves, but I think every singer would like to increase their range. She had great advice for mental blocks when singing. A lot of high notes come out weak (or not at all) because the singer fears it. She gave some tips on breaking through the fear and also recommended practicing to The Star Spangled Banner. She didn’t mention this, but remember that time she totally screwed up her version of this?
I bring this up not to criticize her in any way, but because as a vocalist, it made her much more relatable to me. We’ve all screwed up a performance along the way (if you haven’t yet, you will at some point, and you’ll be just fine!). I wish she had mentioned it and talked about what she learned, or even just laughed about it. But it is a good idea to practice to that song because it will give you a lot of range and you’ll probably have to perform it at some point as a singer.
The next several sessions were her teaching a class of people. To be perfectly honest, I did not prefer this setting. It felt a lot less personal and more like I was intruding on a private lesson, rather than talking with her intimately. Here is my video about it:
She did give some good tips about the different kinds of vocal placement and rock music. I enjoyed these videos, but I’ll be happy to go back to videos of just her.
After this, I decided to put one of her tips to use in my own song. In the student class, she mentions reading the lyrics out loud before performing a song. Here is a case study of the lesson.
Diction and Technique
Next, we went over Diction, or how to phrase or pronounce lyrics. To be honest, I’ve never had an issue with this. My clients usually tell me if they need a word pronounced differently or something, and I do every genre so I feel like I kind of know what genres to pronounce more or less. Not to be braggy or anything, I’m sure it’s something a lot of singers might find helpful. Even Christina herself seemed to kind of not think about this a lot as she performs. I would suggest singers pay attention to other artists in their genre and see how their diction compares.
The next lesson (10) was technique, and this part really spoke to me. It’s about the differences between belting, vibrato, slides, etc. and I’d love to get better at all of these. Often when I’m given a song, I’m sort of intuitively deciding what style or technique to use. For the most part, clients trust my judgment and typically like what I end up doing. I’d just like to get better at all of them.
I went into each of these in my video here:
Texture and Tone
Lesson 11 was about texture and tone, which I LOVE because I could talk about this all day. I love exploring different singers’ tones and timbres, and Xtina talked about her own tones in great detail. She also talked about how to change up your texture by changing the placement.
She breaks down certain songs (Fighter, Say Something) line by line and gives examples of how and why she sings each line with the texture that she does. It was really interesting and made me want to see her in concert to see how she does it live. I’ve always wanted to see her in concert anyway but knowing how she chooses to style her vocals makes me even more hopeful that I can see her sometime soon!
For example, the line “I’m a genie in a bottle baby, come, come, come on in let me out” is done almost completely through her nose. She shows how it would sound if she belted it out instead, and explained that she chose the nose styling because it’s more pop-friendly and fit the song better.
I didn’t make a video about this last class, because I wanted to split the posts and videos evenly. I’ll be posting videos more often than writing, so if you want to see them please subscribe to my YouTube page here!
I’ll be back with my full recap of the whole class soon, but in the meantime: What is your favorite Christina Aguilera song? I have too many to name, I’d probably have to pick one from each album! “Soar” from Stripped is definitely one of my top 5. How about you?