1. What’s Private Acting Coaching
Private coaching is the same as one-on-one teaching. It’s a one hour class (unless you request more) with the teacher of your choice. There’s nobody else in the room, and the teacher works on either what you asked them to look at or what they think you two need to focus on the most.
Acting teachers bill actors by the hour for this type of coaching, and the rate is usually significantly higher than that of a regular group acting class. The price mostly depends on how good and famous the teacher is (and the two do not always go together).
The cost start from as little as £30/$30 (very rare) and go as high as £250/$500 per hour (also rare). Your best bet is to go for something in between: not too cheap and not too expensive. With cheap teachers you get what you pay for.
2. Do You Need a Private Coach
It depends. There are many reasons why actors can choose to book an occasional private acting coaching session. Some of those sessions are justified but others aren’t. Private coaching isn’t ideal for everything, but here’s a short list of what the sessions are normally used for:
- Preparation before applying to a drama school
- Work on an upcoming audition
- Trying to fix specific mistakes or bad habits an actor has
- Learning a particular skill
- Any kind of character work
These goals are all very narrow and specific. Some actors also go to private coaching when they need extra motivation and mentoring to continue on this road, or get back the belief in their ability to act. Experienced acting teachers are good at that.
3. When Private Coaching Isn’t Worth It
You should not be booking a private session with an acting coach when you’re just starting out and trying to learn to act. This will not come to be beneficial because at that point you do not yet know what you want out of that class.
New aspiring actors must learn in groups, where they get to work off their partners and observe others’ work. True acting is about listening and reacting. You don’t get this opportunity in a private session, and that is its biggest flaw. Once you understand how acting works and you have something specific on your mind, you can give private session a shot.
You will also soon go broke if you continue learning acting from just one-on-one sessions instead of going to group classes.
4. Where to Find These Teachers
Almost every teacher from every acting school will be willing to do private coaching for the right amount of money. That is their living and they enjoy teaching others, so don’t look down upon this as a bad thing.
You can also get a teacher who’s currently teaching in a drama school, but these people are either less willing to do such work or their school policy won’t allow it.
It’s best if you already know the teacher and have been to at least a few of his/her classes. That way you know their methods and ways of teaching, you’ll know if you’ll enjoy your one-on-one acting sessions. Finding an acting teacher on Gumtree or Craigslist isn’t recommended.
You can also see our list of top 10 acting teachers in London, if you happen to be in the area.
5. What Do One-on-One Sessions Look Like
Private acting coaching is about complete focus on the work of a single actor. Teachers will pay attention to every little detail of your delivery, your voice and movement. Great teachers will provide invaluable tips on how to approach your character or how to awe the casting director you’re auditioning for.
Here’s a short list of what private acting coaching sessions usually focus on:
- Auditioning skills, sight or cold reading skills
- Preparation of your monologue (for an agent or CD)
- Interpretation and analysis of your sides
- Voice, movement, body, relaxation, etc.
- Preparation for a call-back audition
- Preparation for a specific audition (film, play, school)
- Teachings on how to tap into your emotional resources as an actor
- Comedy and improvisation skills and exercises
- Theoretical knowledge on the acting craft and business
- Transfers to and from stage and film/TV acting
- Learning better timing and rhythm
- Character work, acting range expansion
- Elimination of dialect and vocal impediments
- Elimination of various bad habits that actors sometimes have
- Learning how to look special and unique for agents and CDs
- …and a lot more
Most acting teachers have been working actors themselves. They have been in the business for 10, 20 or 30 years. Never choose a teacher for the sake of a cheaper price that hasn’t been around long enough; chances are they started teaching not because they have a passion for it, but to overcompensate for their failed acting career.
You’re going to get a lot of criticism from your coach, but that’s what you’re there for, right? So you must have a thick skin to not break down and abandon this dream. Some teachers are softer while others can be pretty straightforward. Be ready for it and make sure to absorb everything that’s valuable.