Masterclass. Imagine that you are a young up and coming entrepreneur. You’re in New York attending a convention with some of the world’s top businessmen invited as guests speakers. Tim Cook of Apple is there, Howard Schultz of Starbucks, Luis von Ahn of Duolingo, Ann Chao of Sonation* (a musical start-up and personal friend of mine) and various others. You’ve followed these giants for years and know their stories and look up to them for inspiration. As part of the package, you are given not one, but TWO classes of an hour each to hang out with two Einsteins of your choice. For the session, you bring your portfolio and give them a presentation of your current projects in the presence of an audience filled with peers and colleagues. The chosen mentor analyzes where you’re at, where you’re headed and gives you the best advice one is able. During this hour, you learn about what first sparked their journey, their first break-up, favorite ice cream flavors, how their first product failed etc. This is the perfect chance to learn from their experiences and show you’re the world what you’re made of. It’s nerve-wracking, but at the end of the hour you’ve had the chance to spend an hour with a role model you’ve admired for so long, and to top things off, it goes on your resume. After the applause, the feeling is indescribable.
Hanging out with CEOs
Reading the scenario above, you’re probably thinking this sounds too good to be true! Hanging out with CEOs, how is that even possible? It’s called a masterclass; something musicians/artists experience on a regular basis. It helps spread ideas and keep you on your toes by giving you something to strive for. It allows you to bridge with someone who is an active force in your field. There simply is no better way to learn.
Here’s a recording of a class I had with Oscar Ghiglia back in 2015 (it was intense), but I learned quite a bit. I can’t believe I’m showing this to you, but heck, it’s good to see someone in their high AND lows!
The goal of masterclasses:
- To work with CEOs in your field
- Show off in front of your peers
- Gain a level
- Bragging rights. (Only partially joking.)
If you’re an actor what wouldn’t you give to work with Johnny Depp for an hour, or as an artist with Leonardo da Vinci? Forget a master class! Even 5 minutes with these giants would be to die for. The insight these monsters have is never ending. Yes, they may be role models, but as humans, above all we cherish relationship. When being with these people in these settings we get to see them off the stage which allows us to see them as one of us; human beings with idiosyncrasies. Through these gatherings, you get to become friends, and most likely everyone will be hanging out at a bar after the event, just the perfect chance to get to know them even more!
Point 2 isn’t exactly true, but we can clear things up now. Masterclasses and competitions for that matter are nerve-wracking and it’s usually because of our peers that we become nervous and closed as we perform. On the other hand, this foreknowledge allows us to prepare harder than if they weren’t a part of the picture. It’s also the best place to learn humility.
Masterclasses can be the best place that we can find new fans and friends. Afterwards, people will come up to you and congratulate you, praising your work. “I really liked your ideas! I love the way you think.” Peers will see something in you, follow your work, and possibly want to have future projects with you. You never know. The world is a small place.
Get Over Your Nerves and Gain a Level.
Displaying what you got to the world is necessary. It’s how you perform in public that shows who and where you are, rather than when you’re alone in a room by yourself. You’d be surprised. Musicians find all the time that when we are at home we hit every note just fine and get all the dynamics right, but the second there’s a pair of eyes on us or if the record button is going, we freeze! The crazy thing is when you make mistakes in public you’re much more likely to never repeat them again.
I invited a teacher to my recital and because he couldn’t make it, he apologized and asked me how it went, and I said, “It went well! It’s only my 3rd now.” His response?
Good to hear. It’s only after the first 50 recitals that things begin to get easier – Ken Radnofsky
Read about applications and concluding thoughts on the next page.