Celebrities teach new skills in online masterclasses

Celebrities, cooks and internationally renowned performers offer online masterclasses, as those in coronavirus isolation look to upskill.

May 08, 2020, updated May 08, 2020
Australian actor Chris Hemsworth has narrated children's meditations.(Instagram: Chris Hemsworth)

Australian actor Chris Hemsworth has narrated children's meditations.(Instagram: Chris Hemsworth)

Celebrities, cooks and internationally renowned performers are offering online masterclasses, as those in coronavirus isolation look to upskill.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, such intimate tutorials might have been described as money-can’t-buy-experiences, but increasingly experts in their craft are offering their expertise through online and social media platforms — free of charge.

Award-winning composer Andrew Lloyd Webber started his Composer in Isolation series, inviting people to send videos of themselves singing his most recognised ballads.

The theatre producer then began putting together compilations of amateur performers as he accompanied them, also providing commentary about the background to musical theatre moments they were recreating at home.

“I’m slightly overwhelmed by the number [of requests] for Phantom of the Opera,” Lloyd Webber told participants.

“I thought I’d do one more from PhantomTwisted Every Way is probably rather appropriate — we probably all feel that way rather at the moment.”

Closer to home, Australian singer Delta Goodrem also started weekly concerts titled The Bunkerdown Series, where she performed from the comfort of her apartment in Sydney, live on Instagram.

The ARIA award winner told those following along she had been inspired to write during isolation and had been debuting new songs as part of the weekly performances.

Catering to our love affair with cooking

Celebrity cooks and chefs are clearly taking notice of how people are getting creative in the kitchen during COVID-19 with Australian cook Maggie Beer filming daily videos from her home in the Barossa Valley.

Beer vowed to share tips and recipes as long as coronavirus kept people confined to their homes.

In one recent tutorial, she told at-home chefs she too was learning through the tutorials.

“I’m using a mixture of flours,” Beer said, while creating a soda bread recipe.

“Just as an experiment, because I’ve never done this before.”

Getting the whole family involved

Actor Chris Hemsworth took to his social media platforms to sympathise with stay-at-home parents.

“If you find yourself in a situation like myself, like a lot of people and you’re having to home school your kids and you’re failing miserably cause it’s not an easy task, it’s a very difficult job teaching,” Hemsworth said in an online video.

The predicament prompted Hemsworth to trial meditations with his children at their home in Byron Bay in NSW, although he admitted he too was initially a sceptic.

“That’s not going to work — my kids are allergic to sitting still, but to my surprise it actually did,” Hemsworth said.

As a result, the Hollywood heavyweight partnered with Thor: Ragnarök director Taika Waititi to narrate simple meditations for children.

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New York Times best-selling author Mo Willems also has a younger demographic in mind, with his Lunch Doodles series on YouTube.

The children’s illustrator talks children through his iconic sketches with easy-to-follow tutorials on how to recreate them at home.

What do they get out of it?

Professor Daniel Angus, an expert in digital communication at the Queensland University of Technology, said the tutorials were gaining popularity due to the appeal in having someone you admired teaching you a new skill.

“I think people feel a connection to those individuals that they may have revered for some time and who better I guess to teach you guitar, than say a famous guitarist or your favourite guitarist,” he said.

Professor Angus said some of these tutorials were paid by formal arrangements between sponsors or providers but some individuals were doing it for free.

“What they see as their social contract and something they can do to help out at the moment, everybody sort of feels like they want to be able to help out in some way during this,” he said.

“For others it may be to maintain some form of relevance so that when we get out of this, they’re going to be ready to I guess start touring again or supply their art,” he said.

Queensland Ballet artistic director Li Cunxin said the company was offering free classes for all ages online, as a way of giving back to the community.

“We all want to help each other and for us as an art form what we do best, is to give something inspirational, uplifting and moving,” Cunxin said.

While the dance classes were not necessarily a source of income for the company while their season was on hold, Cunxin said the initiative kept the entire team motivated.

“It’s important for us to keep our talented artists and team together so we can continue to deliver and also be able to not miss a step when we come out the other side,” he said.

– ABC / Brittney Kleyn

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