The 15 best MasterClass classes to take when staying at home

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By now, you’ve probably been targeted with an advertisement on YouTube or Facebook by MasterClass—the online learning platform with the world’s most successful teachers.

Interest in the online education platform has increased dramatically since the world went into lockdown in March of this year.

Many people see MasterClass as an alternative to Netflix—but instead of binge-watching mindless television, you have the opportunity to learn while being entertained.

There are over 80 classes by famous experts, such as Gordon Ramsay, Malcolm Gladwell, and James Patterson.

Each class is broken into quite short 5-25 minute video lessons. They’re beautifully produced and engaging to watch. You can easily get addicted—especially if you have purchased the All-Access Pass.

But where should you begin?

I’ve taken almost half of the classes on MasterClass and have put together this guide to the best MasterClass classes to take in 2020.


The best MasterClass classes for cooking

Gordon Ramsay Teaches Cooking

I don’t enjoy cooking. The thought of spending time in the kitchen is enough to send chills down my spine.

But I’m stuck at home with more time on my hands, so I decided to take Gordon Ramsay’s class.

I was stunned at how much I enjoyed it. It wasn’t so much about improving my cooking (this wouldn’t be hard—my skills were seriously limited).

What I loved was how inspirational the class was. I learned about success at a much deeper level. Chef Ramsay built the class around finding balance between passion and work. He urges you to never forget why you started something in the first place.



Thomas Keller Teaches Cooking Techniques

There are over 6 hours of videos in Thomas Keller’s class, making it one of the longest available. He doesn’t focus so much on recipes. Rather, you learn about his food philosophy and techniques.

This made the course really enjoyable for me. I’ve never been so passionate about cooking, but I love to be creative. By the end of this class, for the first time in my life, I experienced an emotional connection with food.


The best MasterClass classes on writing

Judy Blume Teaches Writing

Judy Blume’s class has been on MasterClass almost since the beginning. She’s a children’s author, well known for writing Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and Blubber.

Blume focuses on helping you to discover the process of writing that works best for you. She does this by sharing many anecdotes about her own process, along with a number of case studies.

She also covers topics like how to handle rejection, find an editor, and deal with censorship.

I particularly enjoyed Blume’s discussion of “how to get in touch with the child within”. It mirrors something I’ve written about the inner child.

I think Blume’s class is best suited for aspiring writers who feel the passion to write but haven’t figured out how to create the habits and routines required to be writing consistently every day. Personally, this is something I’ve learned a while back and I already have my own process in place. Blume’s class basically encouraged me that I’m on the right track.


Malcolm Gladwell Teaches Writing

I truly loved this class!

Malcolm Gladwell is a great performer. He’s interesting to listen to, has great stories to share, and also seems to have a real passion for helping you to get over your writer’s block and just start writing.

In the beginning, he’s honest about never having done something this before. He also says this class is a chance for him to reflect on his own career.

His key message is that writing is a calling. It has a higher purpose and is one way we can fulfill ourselves as human beings.

In a way, Gladwell’s class isn’t just about writing. It does have a focus on character arcs, structuring your writing, and getting the process right. But it’s also packed full of inspiration. It’s humanizing.


James Patterson Teaches Writing

Everyone knows James Patterson is one of the most successful writers. That being said, he doesn’t just get lucky. He’s a master at his process. From outlining to editing, you’ll get everything that James Patterson does to come up with amazing best-sellers over and over again.

If you’re already a fan of James Patterson, this course is the perfect one for you. He’s funny, easy to listen to, and his wisdom transcends the course. It’s one you’ll be listening to for a long time, especially when you hit writers’ block.


Margaret Atwood Teaches Creative Writing

Do you love The Handmaid’s Tale? If so, you already love Margaret Atwood. She’s the creative behind the amazing show, which is based on her book, and she goes into everything you need to know about creative writing.

If you’re struggling with writing a novel, with character development, or anything else, check out Margaret’s uplifting MasterClass and get some inspiration and insight. She worked hard to get to where she is, and she really shines with research, plotting, and narrative.


Neil Gaiman Teaches the Art of Storytelling

Neil Gaiman is so fascinating to listen to, and with his many awards, it’s no wonder why they chose him to lead a MasterClass. He talks about writing short fiction, world-building, and creating dialogue that sounds natural and flows.

Considering these are some of the toughest things that fiction writers struggle with, anyone who wants to write fiction needs to check out Neil’s MasterClass to learn all about the art of storytelling.


The best MasterClass classes on entertainment

deadmau5 Teaches Electronic Music Production

There’s another fascinating instructor teaching on MasterClass. It’s Hans Zimmer aka deadmau5.

The Canadian electronic dance music producer and DJ is considered one of the most well-known music producers in the scene today. It’s another example of MasterClass recruiting the services of an enigmatic and unconventional teacher with fascinating insights to share.

We reviewed deadmau5’s full MasterClass here. Here’s our main takeaway:

“This MasterClass has a lot of personality. It’s snarky, funny, and one that I think, should not be taken too seriously. If you know deadmau5, then you know what you’re in for. Will you learn a lot You’ll learn a lot technically, for sure. You’ll learn how to develop your own chord structure. deadmau5 will teach you the basics of his approach to gain structure, EQing and limiting. The course covers a lot on music production.”


The best MasterClass classes on journalism

Bob Woodward Teaches Investigative Journalism

I was surprised to discover Bob Woodward had given a MasterClass! He’s someone I’ve admired for a long time.

In 2005, I did a Master of Arts in International Relations and studied American foreign policy with a strong focus on the Iraq war of 2003.

Two of Woodward’s books, Plan of Attack (2004) and Bush at War (2002) were required reading. He provides detailed accounts of the Bush presidency and why they made the decisions they did.

His key mantra was always to report on the facts, not opinion.

I think it’s more important now than ever to have journalists learning the trade from people like Bob Woodward. Here on Ideapod, we have a readership in the millions of people monthly and I want our writers (including me) to make sure we work in similar ways to Woodward.

One of the key lessons imparted by Woodward in this class is about the importance of changing course as you work on your story. You’ll learn more about the story as you delve deeper, and you need to have an open mind about which direction to take. You need to let the facts steer the direction, not your pre-conceived intentions.

Finally, it finishes with a brilliant rallying cry to journalists to continue fighting for the truth. Woodward isn’t the most charismatic of the instructors, but I think the message is more important than someone’s charisma.


Newest MasterClass classes in 2020

Some of the newest 2020 instructors include diverse women and amazing artists. In fact, they’re really well-rounded this year. With multiple business courses, a dance course, music course, and writing courses, there’s something for everyone this year.

And because you’ll want to check out every class they’re offering in 2020, the All-Access Pass is the best way to go. Though not all of the new 2020 MasterClass courses were my favorite, I found a few that I really learned from.

David Sedaris Teaches Storytelling and Humour

NYT bestselling author David Sedaris teaches you storytelling and humor. He’s made his fortune with being funny, relatable, and turning life’s littlest moments into a happy story for everyone to read.

In his course, he talks about how to turn observations of the world into stories that connect with an audience. He has a calming and funny presence that makes you want to keep watching.

If you’re a writer who wants to better your craft, this is the perfect MasterClass to take. But, I learned a few things that I believe could make this class worthy to everyone. David Sedaris’s MasterClass is about writing, but it’s also about people.

Connecting and learning about people makes for great stories, but it also makes for something really important—mindfulness.

When you’re living in the moment as David suggests, you learn so much more about life, and you’re a lot happier too. This is a great class for those who are currently writers or want to become writers. Though personally, I’d argue that this course can teach everyone something.

Here’s what you can expect to learn in his course:

  • Everyone’s life is worth writing about
  • Bad experiences can be something positive
  • Observe and live in the moment
  • Expanding on already finished ideas
  • Becoming a relatable person
  • Drafting a story
  • Turning comedy into meaning
  • How to revise a story
  • How to grow as a writer
  • Write without worrying about being published


Misty Copeland Teaches Ballet Technique and Artistry

Misty Copeland was the first Black woman to be promoted to principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre, and she’s one of the most well-known ballerinas in the world. What can a person like you learn from a prima-ballerina?

Well, as it turns out, a lot. Sure, she dives into ballet technique which may not be your thing, but deep down, Misty is an artist. It’s her talk of artistry that really blows this class away. Misty Copeland’s MasterClass goes through how she uses the technique to showcase her artistry.

If you’re a dancer, you’ll love listening and watching her. Her performances are breathtaking, but she also talks about how she got to where she is today. I think this would be a perfect MasterClass to gift to someone who is a young dancer. It’s a hard field to break into!

Though this class is definitely focused on women and dance, it is incredible to watch Misty dance. She also has a part of the class that focuses on inclusivity and diversity in artistry. It’s a great message.

Here’s what you’ll learn in Misty Copeland’s MasterClass:

  • How a fresh perspective can increase your confidence
  • Owning your power
  • Dealing with criticism
  • Ballet technique
  • Barre pliés and tendus
  • Temps lié
  • Ronds de jambe
  • Proper alignment
  • How to perform better
  • Why mentoring is so important
  • Diversity and inclusion in artistry matters


Bobbi Brown Teaches Makeup and Beauty

If you love makeup, you already know who Bobbi Brown is. She’s one of the most successful women in the world. Her makeup brand is used by celebrities, and she’s created a brand people love.

The majority of people watching this course will probably be women. So, while I didn’t get a whole lot from it, I know that people are going to enjoy it. If you’re an aspiring makeup artist, her tips are easy to watch and learn from.

It’s the perfect course for anyone who wants to improve their craft with makeup. Not everyone knows how to apply it or where to begin, so this is like a crash course for those looking to change up their look.

Not only is she a makeup artist, but she’s also a businesswoman. Though it’s not a topic I love, I still found a lot in her MasterClass that was used. She talks about her philosophy and how you should never give up.

In Bobbi Brown’s MasterClass, you’ll learn:

  • Bobbi Brown’s beauty philosophy
  • History of makeup
  • How to use color
  • What to keep in your makeup
  • How to use makeup to properly frame your face
  • What to use on your face for your skincare
  • The perfect smoky eye
  • A quick one-minute makeup routine
  • Mistakes people do when using makeup
  • How to ask for help
  • All about business


Doris Kearns Goodwin Teaches U.S. Presidential History and Leadership

One of the highest positions of power one can hold is being president of a country. Whether you live in the United States or not, there’s nothing more interesting than learning about presidential history. Not only does it teach you about the power and concept of how the US works, but it’s also fascinating to hear some of the life lessons or mistakes that US presidents have made in the past.

Sure, you can find a lot online. However, with Doris Kearns Goodwin, you won’t need to.

Doris is a Pulitzer prize winner, and she’s a renowned historian. But here’s the thing: These lessons are far from boring.

She takes history and reinvents it. What I mean by that is she teaches life lessons from history itself. Throughout the course, you’ll even learn to be a better leader. I was shocked while taking this class. It covers everything from self-care to becoming a successful leader, and everything is good.

It’s by far one of the most interesting MasterClass courses I’ve taken, and I never would’ve known it. She teaches US presidential history, but really, it’s so much more than that.

You should take this course if you are a business person, a leader, or aspire to become one. Whether you want to be the leader of a company or the leader of a country, this is one you can’t miss out on.

Doris Kearns Goodwin’s MasterClass teaches:

  • How to become a great leader
  • Why emotional intelligence is so important
  • How to successfully lead a team
  • Why strategic partnerships are the most important thing you can have
  • Self-care and the importance of taking time to relax and refresh
  • Making good decisions
  • How to get through a crisis
  • The best way to deliver a message—both good and bad
  • How to build a platform and find your voice
  • Building a legacy and advice for future leaders


Bob Iger Teaches Business Strategy and Leadership

Arguably one of the happiest and most-enjoyable MasterClass courses I’ve taken, Bob Iger was fantastic to watch. If you don’t know who he is, he’s the CEO of Walt Disney. The quality of this course is outstanding.

If you’re going to take one of these MasterClasses this year, have it be this one. I didn’t have any complaints, and from a business perspective, this one is invaluable. He works through simple business strategies and makes them life-changing.

It doesn’t matter if you have a multi-million dollar business or you’re just starting out, this is a fantastic course to dig down deep and figure out how to best approach the business you’re working with.

From strategies to Disney moments, the videos are relatable, funny, and heartwarming. If you’re a business fan or love Walt Disney, this is the perfect MasterClass course to take in 2020.

In Bob Iger’s MasterClass, you’ll learn:

  • How to best use your time effectively
  • Prioritizing what’s most important to you
  • How to focus and create a business strategy
  • How he acquired Pixar from Steve Jobs
  • The importance of knowing how to negotiate
  • Creating value with your brand
  • How to expand your brand and push it to its limits
  • Learning what consumers really want
  • Getting through complex deals with other companies
  • What you need to be successful
  • Why advocating for a better world is the best thing you can do


Sara Blakely Teaches Self-made Entrepreneurship

Not everyone makes it to the top in traditional ways, and Sara Blakely is one of the best people to learn from. An entrepreneur from the start, she turned her business into a billion-dollar business.

No one thought she could do it, but she had the mindset and belief. You may recognize her from ABC’s Shark Tank where she often guest sharks. Otherwise, you may know her as the founder of Spanx.

There’s a difference between entrepreneurs and businesspeople. They think differently. If you’re an entrepreneur, or you want to be one, Sara Blakely’s MasterClass is effective in showing you how to make the most of what you’ve got.

She’s entertaining to watch, and though her business is women-focused, her MasterClass can apply to everyone.

In Sara Blakely’s MasterClass, you’ll find:

  • How to figure out what your purpose is
  • What developing your idea really looks like
  • The entrepreneurial mindset and how to get in it
  • Figuring out a prototype and going through the common mistakes
  • Making your product and testing it
  • Becoming a master of sales so you can sell your product
  • Have a product people want to talk about
  • Going through marketing case studies
  • Creating your price
  • Where to position your product
  • Building a company culture that’s successful
  • The keys to success
  • Finding a support system
  • How to manage self-doubt


Danny Elfman Teaches Music for Film

Do you love music? Do you love movies? A big part of film is the soundtrack that’s behind it. Sometimes, you don’t even notice it. Many times, that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Danny Elfman is a pro in creating music for films.

From high-pressure scenes to romantic ones, Danny has to figure out how to make the most of it. He’s a composer that has been nominated for Oscars four times. And he’s also one of the most well-known composers in the world.

I wasn’t sure what to expect in this class, but I did enjoy it. It’s tailored for those people who love music. But if you love movies, this is also a cool class to take. There are some tidbits in there about managing your time and improving workflow, but I’d still say it’s best for those creating music.

In Danny Elfman’s MasterClass, you’ll learn:

  • Why being classically trained isn’t that important
  • Learning to listen to the director of the film
  • How to tell a story through music
  • Using different melodies to match the themes
  • How to build emotion during a scene with music
  • What really went into Tim Burton’s The Night Before Christmas
  • How to work with a disorganized mind
  • Creating a success template
  • Working past that doubt
  • The different films he’s worked on
  • How to work past your failure
  • Creating originality in the space


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Justin Brown

Justin Brown

I'm Justin Brown, the founder of Ideapod. I've overseen the evolution of Ideapod from a social network for ideas into a publishing and education platform with millions of monthly readers and multiple products helping people to think critically, see issues clearly and engage with the world responsibly.

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