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Eric Whitacre's The Beautiful Mess: Masterclass in Composition and Creativity

Eric Whitacre's The Beautiful Mess: Masterclass in Composition and Creativity


Look I made a hat where there never was a hat.
— Stephen Sondheim, Sunday in the Park with George

Creating something from nothing is a messy business, and in this masterclass we’ll dive deep into the mess. I’ll break down every part of my creative process, including all the important work done before the first note is written. I’ll go into great detail as to how I construct my music, building deep structure through emotional architecture and golden bricks. I’ll talk at length about how I deal with inspiration, writer’s block, deadlines, poetry, word painting, dissonance, and silence. Above all, I hope the course will be a useful tool for anyone who longs to bring new ideas to life, to make a hat where there never was a hat.
— Eric Whitacre




Eric Whitacre’s Virtual School offers deep insight into the creative process, drawing on thirty years of experience writing music and lyrics. In this first course, The Beautiful Mess, Eric takes a deep dive into the practical and artistic elements of composition and creativity, while dissecting many of his compositions to bring new understanding and experience to performances and appreciation of his works.

The course is fully supported by reference sheets as well as lesson plans and student guides written by Emily Crocker and Dr. Christopher Peterson (California State University). These materials are customized for three learning levels: those aged 11-16 with no musical training or knowledge of musical notation; high school or college entry-level students with some musical experience and understanding of notation; and those aged 16-plus with existing musical training and the skills required to read and create music. A personalized certificate is provided upon completion of the course.

The asynchronous material is ideal for both individual and classroom instruction and allows students to work at a pace that suits them. The strategies and creative solutions discovered in this course can also be applied to many aspects of life, not only those interested in composition. The course is suitable for general music education, composers, performing ensembles or individual music-lovers.

Eric Whitacre, an alumnus of New York’s renowned Juilliard School of Music, stands among the Top 10 most frequently performed contemporary composers. In 2021, he joined the illustrious roster of Yamaha Artists, an accolade held by some of the world’s finest musicians and continues to widen the audience for classical music through such pioneering enterprises as his Virtual Choir and collaborations across musical genres and creative disciplines. The Virtual Choir, now in its sixth iteration, has attracted over 80 million views on YouTube, and united more than 35,000 singers from 145 countries since its launch in 2010.



The Beautiful Mess Individual License


The Beautiful Mess  K-12, up to 20 students


The Beautiful Mess  K-12, up to 50 students


The Beautiful Mess  K-12, up to 100 students


The Beautiful Mess  K-12, up to 200 students


The Beautiful Mess Higher Education, 5 Licenses


The Beautiful Mess Higher Education, 10 Licenses


The Beautiful Mess Higher Education, 15 Licenses





Our young composers were completely engaged and inspired by Eric’s teaching and his accessible grace. Many have tapped into their new-found creativity and gone on to write exciting new pieces of music as a direct result of their time with him.
Dorothy Gates, Salvation Army many different perspectives on music, art, creativity, and even existential aspects of life as a creative — it was a truly special experience for everyone...
Dr. Steven M. Sano, Professor, Stanford University (US)

There is no one like Eric. He’s a choral superstar, well-known to everyone in attendance. Still, his demeanor in our session was down-to-earth, disarming, and absolutely riveting.
Dr. Andrew Crane, Associate Professor, Brigham Young University (US)

An experience that will not be forgotten. He was gracious, hilarious, and brilliant.
Dr. Amanda Quist, Associate Professor, Frost School of Music, University of Miami


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