John Legend MasterClass Review: Is It Worth It?

Want to improve your songwriting skills? In this John Legend MasterClass Review, we explain what you can learn and if it’s worth the hype.

I’ve been a fan of songwriting and music since I was young. I’d listen to my favorite musicians and use their lyrics to inspire my songs. As I got older, I never saw songwriting as a career; it was always a hobby. Once I’d finished all my work for the day, I’d start writing songs and performing them on the piano.

So when John Legend released his own MasterClass, I was ecstatic. I’ve been following his career for the last ten years, and getting the opportunity to learn from him is a huge honor. If you’re like me and thinking about sharpening your songwriting skills, continue reading.


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Who Is John Legend and Why Should You Take His MasterClass?

John Roger Stephens, also known as John Legend, is an American singer, songwriter, and record producer born on December 18, 1978. Soon after graduating college, Legend worked as a management consultant at Boston Consulting Group (BCG). However, his true passion was music, and in 2000, he released his first two albums, and they blew up.

Since then, Legend has been a household name, releasing best-selling albums like Get Lifted, Bigger Love, Once Again, and Evolver. In this MasterClass, he teaches you all the tricks and techniques he used to build a successful career in music. He talks about writing songs, overcoming creative ruts, and performing in front of a live audience.

Who Is This MasterClass For?

John Legend MasterClass review
The best part of the class is that Legend gives you an in-depth look into his writing process

Legend’s MasterClass is an excellent choice for anyone in the music industry, whether you’re a songwriter looking to land your first job or want to sharpen your music-making ability. The best part of the class is that Legend gives you an in-depth look into his writing process, how he generates ideas, what he does to create catchy tunes, and how he marketed himself as a singer and songwriter.

What Is John Legend’s MasterClass Like?

Legend’s MasterClass consists of 18 HD videos that are four hours and four minutes long. Each video is split into three to five chapters, making the information each digest. These are the lessons in Legend’s MasterClass:

  1. Meet Your Instructor: 08:08
  2. Songwriting With Melody: 13:31
  3. Song Structure: 14:01
  4. Choosing Subject Matter: 13:00
  5. Developing Your Musical Point Of View: 11:24
  6. Making a Movement: “Glory” Song Study: 12:06
  7. Finding Your Artistic Voice and Style: 16:36
  8. Writing Lyrics: Communicating Your Message: 16:19
  9. Writing Lyrics: Using Themes and Motifs: 11:27
  10. Making Lyrics Your Own: 20:46
  11. Becoming “Promiscuous Collaborator:” 08:35
  12. Blending Musical Genres: 09:57
  13. Recording Lead Vocals: 11:46
  14. Recording Background Vocals: 11:46
  15. Deep Dive: Vocal Arrangement: 06:45
  16. Finishing Your Song: Editing: 17:29
  17. Performing Live: 18:05
  18. Bonus: Advice for Aspiring Songwriters: 11:33

You’ll also find a downloadable PDF class guide that dives deeper into these topics. Legend reviews assignments in the MasterClass in this workbook, so I recommend downloading it and completing the exercises in your own time. 

How Much Does His MasterClass Cost?

You can only access Legend’s MasterClass if you sign up for the annual, all-access pass, which costs $180. This pass lets you watch masterclasses from famous singers and songwriters such as Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey, and Alicia Keys.

What I Learned From John Legend’s MasterClass

Are you short on time? If you don’t feel like watching the entire four-hour MasterClass. No worries! Here’s a summary of the key lessons I learned.

Start With a Mumble Track

Before he writes a song, Legend will always start by mumbling something that sounds nice. It’s almost like gibberish, but it helps him decide what he wants his song to sound like. Legend states that new songwriters need to be more focused on the meaning of their songs and what words to use. However, this is an easy way to spin your wheels and suffer from writer’s block.

Because, unlike other forms of writing, songwriting prioritizes flow and tone; the writing comes second. Many aspiring songwriters will put too much emphasis on the words and the meaning behind them that their song sounds like a conversation. So start by composing a catchy melody with a memorable rhythm. Once you’ve played your melody on a piano or guitar and made some tweaks, it’s time to write your lyrics.

Learn How To Listen

Learn how to listen
This helps you learn how songs are structured and what emotions certain chords and progressions make you feel

Legend attributes much of his success to understanding how to listen to other artists’ music. You’re not just learning how to play the song; you’re trying to understand how individual chords work together. For example, what patterns is the artist using to hook you to their melody? Or, when is a major chord more effective, and how do these chords flow?

These are all questions that Legend is trying to answer when listening to music. After listening to hundreds of songs, you’ll understand these things intuitively; it’s almost like you can sense them. This helps you learn how songs are structured and what emotions certain chords and progressions make you feel.

Steal From The Best

Once you know how to listen to and analyze songs, you’ll begin to love a handful of artists. Legend recommends that you shouldn’t be afraid of imitating them because this is how he found inspiration for some of his most successful albums. So if you’re struggling to discover your singing voice, start by imitating a single artist. From here, bring different influences together. After a while, you’ll develop your unique singing voice.

Side note: Don’t confuse this for copying someone else’s lyrics or melody. This is plagiarism and can quickly destroy your music career. By “steal,” Legend refers to imitating other artists’ singing voices, not actually plagiarizing their work.

Utilize Rhyming Dictionaries 

During these masterclasses, Legend mentions that you should use a rhyming dictionary when writing lyrics for your song because it’ll help you overcome writer’s block and make connections between words.

For example, let’s say you’re writing the chores using an AABA rhyme scheme. The only problem is that you must learn how to rhyme your sentences. In this case, you could use a rhyming dictionary as a brainstorming tool to get rhyming ideas you might not have found otherwise.

Write As Much As You Can

Another big takeaway is that you should write as much as possible, especially at the beginning of your career. The best way to get better at songwriting is to write many songs. You can only learn so much from online courses, blog posts, and books. Most of your learning will occur in the real world when you’re writing songs and making mistakes. So bite the bullet and write, even if you aren’t as good as you’d like to be.

Imagine the top songwriters in the world; does everything they write automatically turn into best-selling albums? No! Even Legend says he wrote horrible songs and never released them. Everyone starts somewhere, so you want to get this beginner phase out of the way by writing a lot, making mistakes, and learning from these mistakes.

Warm Up Your Voice

After all your writing is out of the way, it’s time to practice your performance. However, jumping straight into a song can cause minor trauma to your vocal cords. It’s nothing serious, but it can leave your voice rough and tired. This is why Legend believes in warming up your voice and getting it to hit the notes you need.

Legend has a voice instructor that helps him warm up for at least half an hour before recording. This instructor will ask him to sing in a light voice and then focus on specific vocal techniques. If you don’t have an instructor, the internet is your best friend. Countless online tutorials show you how to warm up your vocals and prepare for a live performance.

My Testing Criteria

When I was completing this MasterClass and deciding if it was a good option for aspiring musicians and songwriters, I used these criteria to make my decision easier:

Ease of learning: While learning from Legend and completing all the assignments in the workbook, I tried to get a feel for how easy the lessons were to understand. It doesn’t matter how much value an instructor can provide; students should be able to learn easily.

Knowledge: Next, I reviewed the practical tips that Legend shared and looked at how they benefited my music-making.

Real-world exercises: When going through the workbook, I considered the exercises and how they translated into real-world effectiveness.

Additional tips: The last thing I looked at was how well Legend’s songwriting advice transferred over into other forms of writing.

Why You Can Trust Me

For the last five years, I’ve been creating various types of content for a living, from software reviews to email newsletters and how-to guides. I’ve always been passionate about writing; earning a living while doing what I love is an absolute dream.

I signed up for MasterClass two years ago to improve my writing, and it has exceeded my expectations. When MasterClass released Legend’s songwriting course, I had to try it. I’ve always been passionate about songwriting, and it’s one of my favorite things to do when trying to pass the time.


  • Yaseen is a personal trainer turned professional writer and he’s obsessed with everything health, fitness, and business-related. If he isn’t at the gym, you can find him playing video games or spending time with friends and family.

John Legend Teaches Songwriting

The Bottom Line

This MasterClass covers the basics of songwriting while touching on a few advanced topics. Legend also talks about his creative process and how you can take inspiration from it and improve your songwriting skills.

So if you’re a songwriter or musician looking to land a job in the music industry, this MasterClass is a good starting point. However, it can only teach you so much. Most songwriting lessons will come from getting your feet wet, writing many songs, and staying consistent.


  • You’ll learn about Legend’s creative process
  • The visual graphics ensure that complex topics are easy to understand
  • The workbook contains real-life exercises
  • He shows you how to perform in front of a live audience
  • Each chapter is around five minutes long, making it easy to digest


  • It assumes that you’re somewhat literate in music making
  • You’ll need recording and editing software