If you want to learn about vocals from one of the most successful singers of the century, Mariah Carey’s MasterClass sounds ideal.
It's quite difficult to comprehend Mariah Carey’s grandeur and status. She is one of the most successful performers of all time.
But, how good a teacher is she? Is Mariah Carey’s MasterClass worth it?
I’ve taken Mariah Carey’s MasterClass and I’m here to tell you all about it. We’ll cover the content, the pros, the cons, the costs, any alternatives, and what others have said.
All of this will help you answer the ultimate question…
Is Mariah Carey’s MasterClass for me?
Here’s a quick summary if you’re short on time…
You will learn:
- How to lead songs with your voice
- Mariah Carey’s tips for lyric writing
- How to write using samples
- The importance of backing vocals
- About using instrumentation
- Ways to care for your voice
- How to survive the music industry
- Great insight into Mariah Carey’s process
- Personal examples to illuminate learning
- Provides the background to some of Mariah’s greatest hits
- Covers concepts you don’t often hear about, eg backing vocals
- Focus on the voice as an instrument
- High production values
- A full reworked song at the end
- Quite short
- Not very technical
Length of course: 1 hour and 44 minutes, divided into 9 lessons
Best for: Anyone interested in what it's like being right at the top of the music industry. Singers or musicians interested in writing, production. And of course Mariah Carey fans.
Overall: A unique opportunity to gain insight into the processes behind one of most iconic voices in the industry. Mariah shows you how she guides musicians to the exact sound she wants using only her voice, quite a thing to behold. And with other greats like St Vincent and Christina Aguilera having MasterClasses, you'll likely get a lot out of the platform.
In this review, I will be covering:
- All about Mariah Carey and MasterClass
- An inside look into Mariah Carey’s MasterClass
- What I liked about the course
- What I thought could be improved
- Who is this course for?
- How much does MasterClass cost?
- Alternatives to Mariah Carey’s MasterClass
- What others have said
- How long does it take to complete the course ?
- Is the content unique?
Is Mariah Carey’s MasterClass worth it?
About Mariah Carey
There are few people as iconic as Mariah Carey.
Gaining popularity in 1990, she was the first artist to have her first 5 singles reach Number one on the US charts.
Although known for chart-toppers like “Fantasy” and “Without You”, few can deny her most famous and recognisable track is “All I Want For Christmas Is You” which is one of the best selling singles of all time, and one of my favorite festive tunes.
Recently, Mariah has expanded out to other ventures, as both an actress and a judge on American Idol.
She has sold over 220 million records worldwide and is one of the best selling artists of all time and the highest certified female artist in the US.
Music critics, fans and general audiences have all agreed that she is one of the defining artists of the era.
If all of that doesn’t interest you (I’m not quite sure how it couldn’t), then check out this video trailer for Mariah Carey’s MasterClass:
Launched in 2014, MasterClass is known as one of the most easily recognizable and acclaimed learning sites on the internet.
MasterClass aims to produce high quality, well-produced lessons from world-renowned instructors, with courses ranging from cooking with Gordon Ramsey to acting with Natalie Portman, to performing with Herbie Hancock.
The site is known not only for its celebrity teachers but also for its super high production value and quality. If you want more details on MasterClass and some of its most popular classes, check out our Masterclass review and best MasterClass article.
But MasterClass isn’t for everyone. For some, the teaching isn’t quite in-depth enough and varies by instructor.
So, is Mariah Carey’s MasterClass right for you? Read on to find out.
Inside Mariah Carey’s MasterClass
Mariah Carey’s MasterClass consists of:
- 1 hour and 44 minutes of video content, divided into 9 lessons
- A 29-page workbook to accompany the video lessons
Here, I’ll give you a lesson by lesson breakdown of all the content in Mariah Carey’s MasterClass, so you can get a real sense of what's on offer and what you’ll learn.
Most of the first lessons of any MasterClass start with a short introduction on what you will learn and who your instructor is, so we’ll get things started with lesson 2…
Lesson 2: Producing with your voice
Lesson 2: Producing with your voice
In this first full lesson, Mariah goes over how to put together a song leading with your voice.
Mariah is known for her voice first and foremost, and it's probably one of the most iconic voices in the industry.
Here, you get to see how that talent also leads to her music.
This lesson primarily consists of guiding a string section through her track The Roof, which is being reworked exclusively for this MasterClass (more on that later…).
You get a real sense of Mariah’s songwriting process. Although she leads everything, the process is surprisingly collaborative.
With no formal training of her own, Mariah shows you how she guides musicians to the exact sound she wants using only her voice, which is quite a thing to behold.
Although this lesson could’ve been a little longer and show more of the process, it was super refreshing to see how integral the voice is to creating pop music, as this is often overlooked.
Lesson 3: Lyrics – Write about the realness
Mariah is best known for her voice, but she is also a prolific and talented songwriter.
This lesson is all about how she comes up with the lyrics for her songs.
Rather than a technical lesson on rhyming structure or vocabulary, this lesson is instead very personal and told mainly through anecdotes.
Which is kind of the point.
Mariah’s main message is that the best lyrics come from you, your experiences and your perspectives.
She can’t teach you that. She can only share with you the experiences and stories that informed her lyrics.
It’s nice to get insight into the life of someone who is so enigmatic.
The main song focused on here is Sunflowers, which Mariah wrote in tribute to her father. She doesn’t exactly teach you, step-by-step, how she put the song together, but that's almost impossible as the song is so personal.
Mariah’s father was a big part of her life and when he died, she bought him sunflowers. His relationship with her and her gratitude towards him inspired the song.
It's a very touching lesson.
Lesson 4: Writing with sample
Mariah Carey was one of the first people to merge hip-hop and r&b into a crossover success with mainstream appeal.
The key to that success was her use of samples. Sampling is when an artist takes one segment of another artist's song and reworks it into something of their own.
Everything from finding a unique sample from the millions of records out there, turning it into something original, and adding your own spin takes a lot of work and a keen musical ear.
Mariah Carey’s discography is littered with examples of iconic samples, and you’ll be exploring some of them in this lesson.
- Fantasy (which sampled Genius of Love by Tom Tom Club)
- Fantasy feat. ODB and Bad Boy (the same sample but reworked into a hip-hop style)
- The Roof (which sampled Shook Ones Part 2. by Mobb Deep)
This is a much more technical lesson.
You’ll delve into all the layers behind sampling here, including using effects and interpolation, where you isolate a specific part of the sample.
There is also a nice breakdown of Mariah’s career.
Not only do you get a breakdown of some of her most popular songs, but you also learn how the samples she uses often reflect a particular experience or feeling she had when growing up.
Lesson 5 & 6: Background vocals Part 1 & 2
As these two lessons cover the same theme, I’ve put them together.
This lesson is all about backing vocals, which is an essential but overlooked aspect of pop music. It’s great to see it explored in such a popular vocalists' course.
Mariah is well-placed to teach this course as she was once a backing vocalist herself.
She’s not alone in this regard.
You will learn that Luther Vandross and Chaka Khan were backing vocalists themselves, and how that changed their tone and gave their voices a unique tone.
Again, rather than a technical breakdown, this lesson is taught as a more thorough insight into the process.
You get to see Mariah and Brandi, a popular recording artist in her own right, put together backing vocals for Mariah Carey’s reworked version of The Roof.
Although there is no specific guidance on how to use your voice as a backing vocalist, there is still a lot to gain from just watching Mariah and Brandi ad-lib and create the backing vocals together. It’s also lovely to listen to.
You also get to see how Mariah uses her voice to produce, which is a nice callback to the second lesson.
Lesson 7: Instrumentation and emotion
Both instrumentation and emotion are essential for music.
Instrumentation is a big part of why music sounds the way it does. It’s how instruments are put together to create particular sounds, which can have a massive effect on the emotional aspects of a song.
Mariah doesn’t really play guitar, piano or anything like that, but she is still an instrumentalist.
Her instrument is her voice.
Much like lesson two, here we get a real insight into how she uses that voice to put together songs in the way that she feels best represents her emotion and self-expression.
Lesson 8: Taking care of your voice
Any singer will tell you that properly looking after your voice is one of, if not the most important thing for a singer to do.
Mariah Carey is no exception.
And, considering her career, she’s probably one of the best people to learn from in this regard.
In this lesson, you’ll learn a little more about Mariah’s iconic whistling technique, which is no doubt why many people will have signed up for this MasterClass.
Mariah describes taking care of your voice as an emotional task, as well as a physical one.
This requires a bit of experimentation about finding out what condition your voice sounds best in.
For her, it's all about humidity.
You’ll also learn why Mariah kept her vocal nodules, how she uses them and why some days are just better than others because being a performer is very much about luck.
Lesson 9: Surviving in the music industry
The final lesson is probably the most technical, and by far my favorite.
You get some real insight into how the music industry works, which is very rare from an artist of Mariah’s stature.
The first thing she says is that the music industry is a scam. This might sound a little harsh and Mariah isn’t saying that you shouldn't pursue a musical career.
She just wants you to look out for yourself.
Anyone can be discovered, especially on the internet, so the most important step in managing your career is making sure you're treated properly.
Mariah describes how most record companies do 360 deals with artists, which grants them access to all of the revenue from streaming and puts the artist on a strict contract where they aren’t compensated fairly.
You're offered a very small fee in return for ownership of your entire career, which is something young artists have to be especially careful about.
Mariah blends this technical breakdown of how the industry functions with her own experiences and stories, which I thought was a very effective way of teaching.
She describes how it was a bigger part of her career than you would expect as many industry moguls tried to remove her production credits.
Ultimately, it's important to know where the power lies.
Honestly, I could’ve had a whole MasterClass on this! This lesson was personal, well-taught and gave great insight. It would be very inventive, and brave, for an artist of Mariah’s position to teach a whole course on the industry.
MasterClass, the ball is in your court.
The course ends with the full, re-worked version of The Roof, which has been teased throughout the course.
You can clearly hear the new strings and Brandi’s backing vocals, and how that changes the song, especially if you’re familiar with the original.
It’s a great end to the class.
What I liked about Mariah Carey’s MasterClass
Lots of insight
Easily the best thing about Mariah Carey’s MasterClass is the way it's taught.
It is great to see so much insight into how Mariah puts her music together.
Most of the teaching is around the reworking of her old track The Roof. Here, you get to see loads of insight into how a piece of music is constructed.
One thing you should note is that MasterClass is not like other learning platforms on the internet. This is because the emphasis is on the star power of your instructor.
Because of this, most of your learning will be done through just observing how Mariah works, and what experiences from her career have led to producing music in this way.
Some people may prefer to have direct tips on how to be a pop star. But if that’s what you're looking for, you find it here, or anywhere to be quite frank.
Part of the reason why music is so special and important is that it is all about self-expression, a key theme of this MasterClass. As a result, no one musician's success or story will be the same.
The best thing Mariah can do is show you how she does things, which is what this course is all about.
Rather than have her tell you how she tells instruments to play or how she puts together backing vocals, she shows you.
This means that you get invaluable insight into how being a pop superstar actually works.
Gave a real career breakdown
Another great element of this MasterClass is how in-depth it goes with Mariah’s career.
The emphasis of the teaching is really on Mariah’s own story, and how that might inspire you.
Every lesson is full of personal anecdotes and stories that help to illuminate the concepts taught, like lyric writing, production and backing vocals.
Part of the appeal of having a pop star as your instructor is you get to see how things are done differently when you have both the luxury and pressure of being a best selling artist.
If you already have a bit of music experience, this is very interesting to see.
But, perhaps most importantly, you get quite a bit of insight into Mariah as a person, which is pretty rare considering how private and enigmatic she has been for most of her career.
This MasterClass shows you how she overcame personal issues, confronted problems with the record label and slowly began to cultivate her own image. Most of these experiences inform a lot of her songwriting and artistry.
It’s also great to witness how certain tracks were put together. No doubt, Mariah Carey fans will know this stuff, but the average listener might not.
Fantasy is, in my opinion, the best Mariah Carey song (apart from All I Want For Christmas Is You, obviously), so it was nice to see how it was put together.
Similarly, Shook Ones Part 2 is one of my favorite songs of all time. It was fascinating to see the work that goes into repurposing such an iconic sample.
The unique selling point of MasterClass is the instructor. But another, less discussed but equally valuable aspect of the site is the production quality.
Each video on MasterClass is filmed in high definition, and there is a real emphasis on getting a good shot composition and aesthetics that match the tone of the lesson.
This can make a massive difference in your learning appearance and sound has a huge effect on the way your brain processes and stores new information. I know that many people think of MasterClass like a Netflix subscription because most of the content is so enjoyable to watch.
Mariah Carey’s MasterClass is no exception.
Everything is put together to fit Mariah Carey’s image that has been cultivated so perfectly over the years. So the course is very aesthetically pleasing.
The course is also entertaining because of The Roof reworking.
This is great, not only because having one thing to tie the MasterClass together keeps things focused and moving at a good pace, but also because you get to experience the new track at the end for yourself.
This is super satisfying after watching all the work that went into making it.
Unique in what it taught
My final main pro is that this MasterClass is quite unique.
I’ll say more on this later in the article, and I should note it is not unique in every respect.
Mariah Carey is a super famous megastar, so all the information here probably exists on the internet elsewhere, along with millions of courses on how to sing.
What is special about this course is its focus.
There is an emphasis on things that celebrities don't typically discuss. The most obvious one is the lesson on Record Companies and the industry, which I discussed earlier.
This is the worst kept secret in the music business, but it's refreshing to see an artist of Mariah’s status tackle it head-on.
Other aspects of the class are unique as well, including the focus on backing vocals and using your voice to guide production.
What I think could be improved
Could have had more detail
The main thing this MasterClass could improve on was detail.
As I said above, I enjoyed the coverage of this MasterClass. Most of the things taught are quite rare for a pop singer to discuss. I also enjoyed the teaching style as we got to see the process of a track being put together.
I just wish there was more depth.
This MasterClass doesn’t teach you how to sing, it instead shows you how Mariah Carey does things.
As I said, there is nothing wrong with this in and of itself. Music is a very individualistic art form, so no one singer will do things the same.
But that said, there were times when we could have done with more explanation as to why Mariah made a particular decision.
A lot of the reasoning behind particular music choices seemed to be ‘just because.’
I didn't expect any lectures on musical theory, but just one or two sentences explaining the reasoning behind particular artistic choices would have been a great addition.
Leading on from this first criticism, part of the reason why I think there was such a lack of detail was that this MasterClass is very short.
The run time is only 1 hour and 44 minutes, which is less than most movies these days.
Because of this, I didn’t feel like we got sufficient time with Mariah, and there wasn't the space to delve into her career and artistry quite as much as I would've liked to.
Had this course been 2 hours, and those extra 15 minutes divided among the line lessons devoted to just a little more explanation and direct teaching, then this MasterClass could’ve probably covered a lot more in detail.
However, keep in mind that you also have the workbook, so the content doesn’t stop with the video lessons.
Who is this course for?
You don’t need any prior musical knowledge to take this class, so it’s essentially made for anybody interested!
However, there are a couple of groups who I think would really enjoy this course:
- Singers who want to move more into writing and production
- Anyone interested in what it's like being right at the top of the music industry
- People who learn from anecdotes and value high production quality
- Musicians specifically interested in pop and RnB as a style
- Mariah Carey fans, of course!
How much does the course cost?
At the time of writing, a MasterClass subscription costs $120 per year, or $10 a month.
With the subscription, you have access to all 190+ courses on MasterClass.
Remember, that the more classes you take, the less the effective cost per class is.
For example, if you’re able to find at least 4-6 classes you like, it means you’re effectively paying $20-$30 per course. ($120 / 6 classes = $20).
And keep in mind that considering these classes are taught by world experts, the value is unbeatable. It’s sort of a way to “hack learning.”
There are courses out there being taught by someone you’ve never heard of that are $100+, So, MasterClass is great value when you consider that a subscription gives you access to singing and songwriting talent like Alicia Keys, St Vincent and Christina Aguilera.
Alternatives to Mariah Carey’s MasterClass
Mariah Carey is by no means the only artist to have their own MasterClass.
Although they cover the same general concepts as Mariah, each one has their own unique experiences to share, especially at that level.
Other MasterClasses not directly related to singing, but that might still be of interest to you include:
- deadmau5 Teaches Electronic Music Production
- Danny Elfman Teaches Music For Film
- Herbie Hancock Teaches Jazz
- Armin van Buuren Teaches Dance Music
And if you love dogs as much as Mariah clearly does, then you could also check out Brandon McMillan‘s dog training MasterClass!
If you are looking for more practical singing lessons, and care less about whether or not your instructor has sold millions of records, the internet still has you covered.
Singeo is a platform dedicated entirely to getting to grips with singing, even if you think you can’t.
The site has a clear and straightforward method to help beginners with belting their favorite tunes in no time.
Other sites, like Udemy and SkillShare, are focused less on making singing their whole brand.
One such example is Udemy’s Elite Singing Techniques which is perfect for any beginner.
Or you could try SkillShare’s Singing Made Easy: Complete Vocal Training System, which boasts over 33,000 students.
For further suggestions, head on over to our Best Online Singing Classes article.
What others have said
In order to keep this review fair and balanced, I’ve searched the internet to see what others have said about Mariah Carey’s MasterClass.
Because this class was brand new at the time of writing, there really isn't that much out there.
It’s difficult to gauge what people think of the course because there aren’t very many comments from people who have actually taken it.
Checking the YouTube trailer’s comments, or any other site where it has been posted, you can see that Mariah Carey fans are incredibly excited.
Although the sheer level of excitement speaks to how popular and beloved Mariah is, these comments are a little biased. I wanted to find people who had taken the course.
Of these, there were only two:
“So amazing. I loved so much.” - Mariah Carey review Reddit
“The Roof (2023 mix) feat. Brandy??? Yes please !!!” - Mariah Carey Reddit review
These are both very brief comments, but they are the consensus so far on Mariah Carey’s MasterClass. And it seems to be a very positive one.
How long it took to complete the course
This course is 1 hour and 44 minutes, divided into 9 video lessons.
The beauty of MasterClass means you can complete these 9 lessons whenever you please.
This means that you can do it all in one sitting or spread it out across a few days or weeks. It’s really up to you.
Is the course content unique?
Yes and no.
There is a lot of Mariah Carey content out there, as you might expect. After all, she is one of the most popular artists of all time.
So you could probably find a lot of information from this course if you look hard enough. Furthermore, as we’ve seen with the alternatives, there are plenty of places to learn how to sing online.
With that said, you will not find a course with the same information all in one place. Although she is incredibly famous, Mariah Carey is known for being intensely private.
Getting this much access to her process is very rare.
On top of that, how the course is put together is unique in its own right. You won’t find a course on singing with this kind of production value anywhere other than MasterClass.
Is Mariah Carey’s MasterClass worth it?
The answer to this question will depend on so many factors that only you can decide on.
So, here’s a quick rundown of the key features, pros and cons of this MasterClass to help you decide.
This is a very quick MasterClass, and as a result, there isn’t as much depth or direct teaching as you might want or expect.
If you're looking to learn specifically how to improve your vocals and overall musicianship, this MasterClass probably isn’t for you.
However, for most people, the appeal of this MasterClass will be the insight it will give you into a pop music icon.
And the insight is certainly there.
You get to see exactly how Mariah puts together a new track and learn about her experiences and personal stories that have made her into the artist she is.
There is also quite a lot of unique coverage, as you learn the importance of backing vocals, taking care of your voice and looking out for yourself in the industry.
If that type of insight interests you, check this MasterClass out.
And remember, with MasterClass, the best way to get value for money is by taking as many courses as possible.
This is especially appealing when you keep in mind the refund policy, which reduces the risk of spending money on things you haven't enjoyed.
And lastly, hell, Mariah loves dogs and has a Jack Russell who features large in this class. So what's not to love?
Frequently asked questions
A MasterClass all-access-pass costs $120 a year ($10 a month). This gives you access to Maria Carey’s MasterClass, alongside 200+ other courses.
Mariah Carey’s MasterClass is 1 hour and 44 minutes long and consists of 9 videos.
Unfortunately, you can’t get Mariah Carey’s MasterClass for free. But MasterClass has a range of purchasing options and offers refunds if you’re not happy.
Yes, MasterClass operates a 30-day refund policy if you purchase directly through them. If you purchase through other providers, their returns policy may apply.
Charlie is a student reading politics at King’s College London. He is also a passionate musician with over 14 years of experience. In his free time, he also enjoys cinema, long-distance running and learning new things.