This is the second half of a series where I take and review Christina Aguilera’s MasterClass. If you want to see the others, check out my intro explaining the course here and Part 1 of the review here!
I’m finished with the course, you guys! I’m excited to share all I’ve learned with you and my final verdict. 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).
A Recap of Christina Aguilera’s MasterClass
We’re starting from the second half of the course, since I already covered the first one. We start with Lesson 12:
Lessons 12 and 13 are about duets. I actually perform duets pretty often as a session singer, for both male and female clients, so this is a lesson I can really put to use. Unfortunately for me, these lessons are mostly about live performances. Twelve is about rehearsal prep together, which I do not do as a session singer. We rehearse on our own time because we’re usually working virtually. When I get a duet I’m either the first person recording, so I take the lead on the emotions, or I follow what the first person did. She goes through things like checking mic levels, which I do, but not for live purposes. We are individually responsible for our equipment (I wrote a post on duets if you want to check it out).
The MasterClass recommends performing a duet with another student, which actually sounds really cool but honestly, I don’t have time. I think like other lessons, you get as much as you put into it. Since I perform session duets often, I’m sure I’ll have an opportunity to use these skills soon.
A Live Show
Lesson 13 is an actual duet performance between Christina and her live duet partner. They went over all of the possible things that could go wrong in a live performance, which just made me never want to perform live even more, haha. I mean, if things go wrong for Christina Aguilera, they will literally happen to any and everyone. But she gives great advice, which is that yes, bad things happen, but you have to laugh it off and learn how to recover.
She gave a quote that I absolutely love: “it’s entertainment fodder for a minute because everybody, you know, wants a break or an escape, or to ‘dish’ about somebody else outside of their personal problems, but it will pass. So don’t get too caught up in the moment.”
This seems like it can apply to everything and I will use it from now on. Stage fright has always been a big deal for me (I even went to hypnotherapy for it). Now it’s even worse because a). I haven’t done it in so long, and b). I feel like people are expecting me to sound like I do in my recordings, and what if I don’t?!? I’m sure every major artist feels this way, haha, but most of them do perform live so they have more experience.
Lesson 14 is about the beat, or tempo (which I’ve also written about if you want to see). She recommends changing rhythms to change the style or sound of a song. Actually, one of my favorite examples of a rhythm change in a song is by Christina. Here is her single, “Come On Over:”
I loved. this. song. And still do, honestly. But here is her live version with a different style and tempo:
I love this version of it as well, and it perfectly demonstrates what she talks about in this lesson.
Lesson 15 is about live microphones, which is not really that useful to me but I can see it being very useful to other vocalists. This is also the lesson where the trailer from her class comes from:
I do have some of my own advice for live singers, and this comes from my previous years of performing: be really vocal (pun intended) about your mic and monitor volume. I used to be very shy and afraid to ask for my mic to be louder, choosing instead to strain my voice and wind up completely hoarse the next day. The vocals are the most important part of the band (#sorrynotsorry everyone else) and if you can’t hear yourself, or the audience can’t hear you, it won’t be a good show. Even Christina says, “your sound engineer is one of your best friends,” which is so true. Be friendly with the sound people and also assertive, and you’ll be golden. Here is my video about the previous four lessons:
Lesson 16 is about studio microphones, which is quite honestly my jam. I know a lot about this topic but I was really interested to see Christina’s input on it. She typically records barefoot (!) and she has a recording engineer who sets everything up for her. I wear socks because I’m always freezing cold and I do all of my setup myself. However, when I was first starting out, I had no idea what to do with any of the equipment, so I understand that if you don’t need to set it up yourself, you probably won’t know much about it. Having done it myself so much now, I think it’s easier to handle everything myself, set my own levels and be in charge of the recording.
She talked about how she doesn’t like pop filters (she calls them “poppers”), which is funny because I’m not a huge fan either. They are absolutely necessary though so it’s important to make sure you have one, and they’re also probably the cheapest thing you can buy for your studio.
She suggested putting whatever you need in your studio to make yourself feel comfortable and creative. I totally recommend this as well, whether it’s vision boards, crystals or a dog bed with two live Chihuahuas in it, such as I have in my booth.
Lesson 17 was about performance anxiety which I HAVE SO MUCH I can’t deal with it. Hearing Christina talk about it was helpful, but honestly not much because I don’t think there’s a lot you can do to deal with performance anxiety besides perform often. Christina said she still gets nervous though so I don’t know that it ever fully goes away. I don’t perform often, so the rare times I do are nightmarish. I start panicking weeks in advance.
Christina said her most nerve-wracking performance was singing a cover of “At Last” at Etta James’ funeral. This would be the equivalent of me singing “I Will Always Love You” at Whitney Houston’s funeral, which would be enough to give me a stress-induced heart attack and kill me on the spot (which would still be better than performing, honestly).
Planning Live Shows
Lesson 18 was about actually planning out the live performance. I do think that the more I plan something, the less nervous I am. Christina says she is much more comfortable on stage and doesn’t like being in a studio, which is the exact opposite of me haha.
I guess there was a time during her first tour when a rumor spread that she made negative comments about a town she was performing in, and people were there with mean signs and throwing things at her. Instead of addressing it, she said something like, “whoever is here to have a good time, let’s have a good time.” The tone of the audience changed and she ended up having a great show. That was an interesting tip for me since there was a time when my guitar player and I were booed for a misunderstanding on stage.
Speaking of my guitar player, I tend to ignore him when we are onstage (he is also my co-writer, and we both know the songs so I have always felt that if I look at him or interact with him I’ll lose focus and screw up) but Christina recommends engaging with your band when the audience isn’t listening. I will definitely try this next time because I think it would also help me to be less nervous.
Here is my video on these last four lessons:
Xtina’s Personal Advice
The final home stretch of videos is about Christina’s personal advice to artists. The 20th video is about her tips for schedules, which is really only helpful if you become a mega superstar like her. That’s not really in the cards for me, but it was interesting to see how she handled becoming famous.
She recommends journaling, which a lot of artists recommend. I’ve never been a fan of journaling because I hate reading my own self-absorbed posts, but maybe this is the push I finally need to do it.
She talked about her “hate club” and how to handle criticism, which is an endlessly interesting topic for me (I even wrote about it here). Like every other artist, Christina has had her fair share of haters and criticism and it’s nice to see how she deals with it. She talked about The Voice contestants and how she advises them to block out the criticism online. Admittedly, I don’t watch The Voice, so I’m not sure who she’s referencing specifically. She also recommends ignoring people on social media and even friends and family if they aren’t supportive.
My favorite quote of hers was, “Usually the people that actually have the worst things to say wish they had your talent.” I see this often when people criticize celebrities. It’s easy to sit on your couch and eat a tube of cookie dough and insult Beyonce, you know? This was like a mini therapy session with Christina and I enjoyed it!
The next video was about self-expression, and she talks about her album Stripped. I love this album! She chose this album to express her opinions on sexuality and shame in the music industry. She acknowledged that not everyone understood or liked it, but it was a conversation piece. Many people were bothered by the Dirrty video and she saw it as an opportunity to explore why they didn’t like it and to discuss sexuality. I personally would have a hard time asking people *why* they don’t like my work, haha, but you might get some use out of it!
If I may interject my own opinion here, I would just like to say that regardless of your persona (whether it’s sexual, understated, ambiguous, etc) people are always going to have opinions about it. Since they’ll have opinions either way, you might as well just be yourself.
Xtina’s Personal Experience
The final video was about Christina’s own personal experience, starting with the Mickey Mouse Club. She was told not to do many runs or ad-libs. She’s careful to remain professional and avoids saying she hated it, but you can tell she was annoyed at not being able to express herself.
She talked about how hard she works in the music industry, and how grueling it is, and I want to stop here and address the indie crowd (which is most of us, to be honest):
Yes, you will work hard as an A-List Celebrity. However, you will also have assistants, a PR team, a tour manager, a massage therapist, and any number of things to help you out. If you remain an indie artist, you’ll need to work extra hard and be all of those things for yourself. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but go into this knowing what you need to work on.
I’m not at all trying to say Christina doesn’t work hard, of course she does, but if you want to be a truly successful indie artist, you’ll need to work as hard as Christina and also as hard as everyone on her team.
She talks about how she’s a Sagittarius (which I already knew) so she doesn’t like to make very structured plans. She prefers to “see what the Universe has in store for me.” Which, again, is a lot easier when you’re an A-List artist and people are pounding down your door for opportunities. Whatever your zodiac sign, I recommend tailoring industry advice to your own personality and finding what works for you.
Overall, Christina seems incredibly wise and has a great deal of advice and information to give singers. I would love to have a class about being a celebrity, just for an interesting inside look at her life.
And that’s it! That’s the whole class.
Here is my final video:
My Final Thoughts on the Christina Aguilera MasterClass
I definitely got a lot of use out of the class, even though some of it didn’t apply to me. I feel that would be the case regardless of what class you take. I’m glad I took it and I would recommend it! Like anything, you get out of it what you put into it. If you can’t dedicate the time to do the homework and make it a regular part of your practice, it’s probably not going to be worth your time or money. However, if you do the work, apply her advice and make it a regular habit, you’ll get a lot of use out of the class.
I’m so glad I did this and I hope you enjoyed my review! I probably will take another MasterClass at some point, because I’m always interested in growing as an artist and musician. Thanks for coming along on my journey and please let me know if you recommend any of the classes!
If you decide you want to take the class for yourself, here is my link to the course! Do you think you’ll try it? Or have you already? If so, let me know and tell me what you think of it!