When to Leave Your Acting Teacher

Tips on When to Leave Your Acting Teacher

Too often students leave their acting teachers either too early or too late, no matter how good or bad the teacher—whether it’s for money, insecurity, lack of time and/or commitment, or maybe a desire to be in a class with a friend somewhere else. On average, for every 20 students who start a class, in about a year, eight will still be studying with that teacher or anyone. I suggest that whether you stay or go, you do so for the right reasons.

The first way to help you not waste time and money is to do your research and audit several teachers, as well as techniques before you enroll. I have an article on Backstage and a video on my YouTube channel that can help guide you to make a better teacher choice.

If you are in a professional class with an empowering teacher and you see your improvement and that of the other students, then you should stay put for at least a year or two before quitting the class and/or starting up with another teacher.

Here are a few reasons you might want to quit training with your acting teacher, and suggestions as to how to handle the situation.

  1. If you want to quit because you can’t afford it, here are my suggestions:

    Ask the teacher if you can be an assistant for that class or a personal assistant for him or her to earn your training.
    Don’t start until you have the money or an income source that will pay for that class for at least six months (probably a year).
    Maybe get a small loan from a family member that you have a great relationship with.

  2. If you want to drop out because you are nervous or insecure:

    Realize that good acting training is emotionally challenging.
    Talk to the teacher and let him/her know what is going on.
    Take an improv class at the same time. For most, good, professional improvisation teachers build confidence and makes new actors more willing to be challenged.

  3. If you’re finding yourself with a lack of commitment or interest:

    To me, this often means that students are more turned on to the idea of being an actor but don’t want it bad enough to do the work. If this is the case, it maybe is a good reason. Own the realization then you can never look back on your life and have regrets that you never gave acting a try.

  4. If you’re finding yourself with a lack of time:

    You know that if you want something bad enough, you make the time. Often lack of time is really lack of commitment.

  5. If you find yourself wanting to study with a friend at another teacher’s facility:

    Really? You will make new friends in your acting class, but that is not why you are there. Realize that your friend’s teacher may not be a match for what you need for your talent development. Pick a teacher that works for you.

The following reasons are what I believe are acceptable ones for leaving your acting teacher:

  1. You don’t feel great about the acting technique. There are lots of acting techniques, so do audit several before choosing. But sometimes, after three or four months the technique doesn’t make sense or feel like a fit. In that case, start the research and audit process again for another teacher.
  2. You don’t like the teacher’s style, instruction, or attitude. Again, after you have participated for at least three or four months, are not inspired, feeling the improvement, or now dislike the teacher, it is probably time to leave. This way you know you have given it the time needed to make an informed decision and an opportunity to work through the discomfort of being in a new training environment.
  3. You don’t respect the other students or teacher policies. If this is the case, you should move on to another teacher. When you research and audit always ask about the policies.

If you decide to leave make sure you have audited other teachers so you have others to compare your class. Make your choice and have a start date before you quit your class. This way you won’t have down time in your training.