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The Perfect Acting Class (Pt. 2 of 3) – 6 Things To Look For When You Audit An Acting Class

6 Things To Look For When You Audit An Acting Class

This post is the second in a 3-part series on “Finding The Perfect Acting Class in 6 Simple Steps”.

Part 1: Finding The Perfect Acting Class; Sorting, Sifting & Being Specific
Part 2:  [You Are Here] 6 Things To Look For When You Audit An Acting Class
Part 3: The Acting Class Bottom Line: How Much Does A Good One Cost?

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In my previous post, I addressed the “sorting, sifting and being specific” when it comes to finding potential new classes and teachers and gave you 3 important steps in our 6-step process to help you focus and narrow down your choices , specifically:

  • Zeroing in on the goal you’re trying to achieve with this particular class…
  • Identifying the specific hole in your skill set that you want to to fill by taking this class…
  • How to create, vet and narrow down your list of contenders

If you missed the first post, I highly recommend you read it BEFORE you move on to this post.

OK, if you’re still here, then you know that we covered the first 3 of the 6 steps and left you ready to answer one, gigantic question…

“Now that I have my potential class and teacher candidates, how do I choose?”

While there are 3 more steps to process, in this post, we'll focus just on Step 4 — one of THE most important parts of this whole acting class puzzle:

STEP 4:  AUDIT THE CLASS

Most good, well-respected acting teachers will allow you an audit. Typically it will be a free audit, but sometimes you may have to pay for the first class.

If it’s within your means, do it. There’s some vital information you need about this class and the teacher before you make a financial (and emotional) commitment. So, here’s…

6 THINGS TO LOOK FOR WHEN YOU AUDIT AN ACTING CLASS

  What Is The Teacher’s Style And “Vibe”?

Is this someone who’s communication style you can connect with?

Remember, in part one we talked about some of the types of teachers you might encounter – the “Drill Sergeant” or “Mrs. Monologue” or “Mr. Feel Good”.

If you don’t respond well to someone “drill sergeant-ey (yes, I’ve decided that is now a word), this is not the teacher for you.

If you observe this teacher barking out comments or giving overly critical feedback that makes students feel bad about themselves, then you’ll want to look instead for someone who is more nurturing and whose feedback is more constructive.

Which leads me to…

  How Does The Teacher Give Feedback?

Are they really watching, listening and taking in their students’ work, offering a constructive response that helps them know how to make more effective choices?

Watch out for teachers who only say surfacy good things and don’t offer details on why what’s good is good and don’t offer suggestions for getting to the next level (aka “Mr. Feel Good”).

This can be just as ineffective as the “Drill Sergeant” (although it will at least spare your self-esteem). Compliments without substance don’t serve your growth as an actor, just your ego. Beware.

Remember, observe the way the teacher relates to their students, and how the students relate back.

   Are They Using The Acting Class As Their Own Personal Stage?

While it can be instructive for an acting teacher to tell stories and share through the lens of their own experience, make sure they aren’t using the class as a stage to constantly talk about themselves (aka “Mrs. Monologue”).

Basically, make sure they’re not using your time (and money) to relive their glory days or revel in the sound of their own voice, while you all sit there waiting for the point. ‘Nuf said.

Work with an actor teacher who challenges you in acting class so you grow as an actor - Amy Jo Berman

  Are They Challenging You…But In A Way That You Feel Safe?

This is really important.

You always want to work with a teacher who challenges you; that’s how you grow as an actor.
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Your acting teacher should be someone who will nudge you out of your comfort zone to explore your growth as an artist, BUT in a way that makes you feel safe.

After all, this is acting, not therapy.

Watch out for teachers that cross the line here into inappropriate territory.

Ask yourself: Is this a teacher who will make you feel safe and comfortable while being vulnerable, expressing yourself creatively?

  Are The Other Students In The Class At Your Level or Better?

Look for a class that has students at your skill level as well as some who are little bit better. You want to be able to learn from the other students in the class, but you don’t want them to be so far beyond your level that it makes you feel bad about yourself or your acting.

Can you rise to the challenge and grow as an actor in this class?

Or is the gap in skill so vast that you just don’t know how to fill it?

  What Does Your Gut Say?

In acting class, as in life, always listen to your gut.
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When you audit an acting class, the feeling that you notice in your gut is much more telling than anything.

Your gut feeling is always more important than:

  • A fancy teacher with a “marquee name”
  • A recommendation from someone else
  • A “should” in your own inner dialogue (“I should study with this person because ____”)

The most important thing to notice about your gut feeling is this:

Are you leaving the class feeling excited, challenged and hopeful?

Or

Are you feeling down, intimidated or doubting?

If you notice yourself getting a bad “gut feeling”, check in with yourself to make sure you aren’t confusing that feeling with the emotions you sometimes get when stepping outside of your comfort zone.

You still want to challenge yourself… But never force something that doesn’t feel right.

In acting class, as in life, always listen to your gut - Amy Jo Berman

Read that last step again, because this is perhaps the most important lesson in this entire post.

So now that you’ve audited your contenders, what’s next?

What about price, value, location? How do these factor into your decision?

That’s exactly what I’m going to teach you in the next post in this series.

Stay tuned…

Your turn! Were these 6 things to look for when you audit an acting class helpful? Which was the most helpful? Tell me about it in the comments below… :-)

You DESERVE the Red Carpet!
~Amy

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Amy Jo Berman - Acting Coach
Amy Jo Berman's Tips On Acting & Auditioning Blog
Email: Asst@AmyJoBerman.com
“I show actors how to take the struggle out of ‘struggling actor'!”

Did this post on how audit an acting class help you? If so, I would greatly appreciate if you commented below and shared on Facebook.

  • Michael Miller

    Listen to your gut. It has to go through your heart before it gets to your brain.
    The more you listen to your gut, the more confidence you will have in it. :)

  • Don Wilson

    Very good advice Amy…I wish you were around when I first moved to LA in 1985. It was risky just taking whatever class was suggested but, as always, I got lucky and enrolled in Playhouse West, then Charles Conrad Studio, then Tracy Roberts Studio, and finally Ivana Chubbick’s Class. I think, for me, they provided a lot of good direction and ways to improve. But, since I started at ZERO, most classes would probably have helped me. I’m still saved by the editors and hope to continue to improve and work on my acting by taking on different roles-characters.

  • Andrew Alton-Read

    Great advice Amy. I enrolled in a weekly ‘Meisner Class’ in London run by the ‘Actors Gateway’. When auditing this class I followed my gut, it was challenging and inspirational giving me the opportunity to network with other like minded actors. I felt at home with the tutors and they gave me constructive criticism which I could take on board. I know attend the class every weeks and look forward to the journey I am going on.

  • Bj Wieland-Doucet

    ALWAYS follow your gut. I came up with a new name for a great teaching style,
    StaniMameChubbMeisBurg! Just sayin’!!