5 Big Things to Know About Different Types of Acting Classes

5 Big Things to Know About Different Types of Acting Classes
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If you dream of becoming a professional actor and pursuing an acting career, you should be familiar with some of the different types of acting classes.  There’s a wide range of acting classes available for every skill level, from beginner to advanced actor.

There isn’t one best way to become a working actor, but a casting director will expect you to show up well-prepared for each audition, so you’ll need to be improving your acting skills constantly.

I took many different classes when I was actively pursuing acting jobs, so I know the best types of acting classes to help you develop various acting abilities.  In addition to the skills you’ll learn, you’ll also be interacting with other actors and building a network of industry professionals.

I believe every aspiring actor should be familiar with the following five different types of acting classes:

  1. Scene Study

Almost every acting school has some kind of scene study classes, and they range from mediocre to outstanding, depending on the acting teacher.  Scene study involves in-depth work on a scene from a film, tv show, or play.  

In some scene study classes, the entire class works on the same scene; in other classes, students work on different scenes. Sometimes the scene is a monologue, but more often you’ll be working with a scene partner.

Sometimes the scene work includes on-camera acting, and sometimes not. I found I learned the most in the on-camera scene study class I took, as seeing the scenes played back highlighted the things we students could improve upon to become better actors.   

In a scene study class, you may be expected to bring in a scene to work on or the scene may be provided by the instructor.  It’s a good idea for new actors to ask this and other questions about the class before deciding if the class will be a good fit.  

Scene study classes are a good way to learn some basic techniques for approaching a scene, which is an essential skill for any good actor during the audition process. 

You may find that you’ll want to use what you’ve learned in your classes to work on scenes with other actors that you can perform at actor showcases.  

Scene study classes differ from acting technique classes.  An acting technique class is a class that teaches a specific technique, such as method acting as originally taught by Lee Strassberg, the Meisner technique, and the Stella Adler technique, all of which teach a specific approach to acting and scene study.   

2. Commercial Acting Classes and Workshops

If you want to act in commercials, as most actors do, it’s helpful to take a commercial acting class or workshop that teaches you what casting directors expect on commercial auditions.  A casting director generally auditions dozens of actors for each commercial they cast, so you’ll only get one or two takes to show what you’ve got in the audition room.  Then it’s on to the next actor on their list. 

The casting director only has a few minutes to spend with you, as they’ve got other actors waiting to audition.  As an actor, you want to get a callback, so you need to stand out in the first audition.  That’s where a commercial acting class can be helpful for an actor. 

I’ve taken two commercial workshops and one commercial acting class and all were taught by commercial casting directors.  Both workshops included a final class where commercial agents came and watched us students perform our scripts.  It was a great way to be seen by some agents and a few people in the class got agents from it.  

Commercial acting workshops are generally taught as a block of classes, ranging from four to six or eight weekly sessions.  You’ll learn a lot about what commercial casting directors are looking for in auditions.  

Sometimes you’ll do scripts alone, and other times you may be paired up with one or more partners.  This mimics the commercial audition process, where I’ve auditioned with as many as five other actors at once.  

Commercial acting classes and workshops are usually on-camera classes, so you’ll have a chance to see as well as hear from the instructor what you need to improve.  

Some classes and workshops are better than others, so ask around before you commit to one, as the classes aren’t cheap.

3. Improvisation Classes

Have you ever seen the tv show Whose Line Is It, Anyway?  That’s an excellent example of improvisation.

Commercial acting and improv go hand in hand.  The best commercial actors I know have strong improvisation skills, as casting directors often go off script and expect some improvisation during auditions.

I’ve taken a weekly improv class for years and it’s a fun and challenging way to improve your acting skills and be more confident on auditions.  

Improv classes are focused on a series of structured games and there are no scripts, so you’ll have to trust your instincts, listen, and work together with your fellow performers. Improv will expand your creativity as you create characters and increase your confidence.  And did I mention that it’s also a lot of fun?  

Improv is the one type of acting class I’ll never stop taking, as the skills you build in improv spill over into many other areas of your life.  

Take some improv classes and you’ll see your confidence and creativity grow in auditions and in life.

4. Cold Reading Classes

Cold reading is a skill every actor needs to develop.  

Cold reading, sometimes called sight reading, can be rather terrifying at first, as it involves reading and performing a scene from a script that you’ve only recently gotten and haven’t memorized.  However, in the entertainment industry, most auditions are conducted as cold readings, and if you learn to cold read well, you’ll have a definite advantage over your fellow actors.

A cold reading class taught by a working actor who excels at it can help you improve your cold reading skills tremendously.  It requires hard work and a lot of practice to get good at cold reading, but it’s a great skill to have in our industry.

Some instructors combine cold reading with a general scene study class, while others teach it as a separate class.  Whichever type of class you choose, the main thing is to keep practicing your cold reading.  

The good news is mastering cold reading will help you nail more auditions and will make you a better performer.   

5. Voice-Over Classes

If you’ve always wanted to do voiceovers, you’ll need to learn more about this specialized area of the industry by taking a voice-over class.  

We hear voice actors every day on television, radio, and numerous other places we don’t even think about.  

My own experience with voiceovers consists of one small voiceover job I did for a low-budget film a few years ago.  I also hired a voiceover actor for a commercial I produced for a business I once owned.

Voice-over work is a lucrative area of the industry.  The first step to getting into it is to take a voice-acting workshop from a working voice actor.  

A good workshop will cover voice technique, creating a voice reel, getting an agent, and auditioning.   

Specialty Acting Classes

There are classes available on just about every element of acting.  

Camera technique, audition technique, body and movement classes, and teleprompter reading come to mind.  

Here are my thoughts on each of these:

Camera Technique

If you’re taking a class where the scenes are being recorded, you may already be getting feedback from the instructor on your performance and camera technique.  Be sure you know precisely what an on-camera techniques class would add to what you’re already doing before you spend the money.

Audition Technique

Once again, you may be already taking a class that covers auditions even though it’s not an audition technique class.  Also, every casting director runs auditions in their own way, so there isn’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all for auditions.  

The important thing in auditions is to be confident, as well prepared as possible, and to follow any directions the casting director gives you in the audition.  

Body and Movement 

I’ve never taken one of these classes, but I’d want to know exactly what skills would be covered in the class before I made a commitment.  Are they teaching fencing, sword fighting, a type of dance?  

Unless you’re training for a career on the stage or need to learn a specific skill that the class covers, I’d concentrate on other types of acting classes before I’d spend money on this type of class.


You could work for years in the industry without ever needing to read from a teleprompter.  

Or you could have an audition next week where you’ll need teleprompter proficiency.  It happened to me, and I had to find a free online teleprompter I could use on my computer to practice.

Teleprompter reading shouldn’t be a series of classes, but rather one reasonably priced session lasting a few hours.  Otherwise, use the free online version to practice. 

One-On-One Acting Coaching

If you’ve got an audition for a part or you’re doing a scene for an agent, you may want to book a one-on-one session with an acting coach to work with you on the script.  I’ve done this several times and it greatly improved my performance.

This isn’t the same as taking a class, as the instructor is working with you privately.  

It’s helpful if you’re already taking classes with the acting coach so they’re familiar with your work.  If you’re working with a scene partner, you may be able to split the cost.

The cost of private coaching will be significantly more than the price of a class but it could be well worth the expense if the extra coaching takes your career to the next level. 

Online Acting Classes

Online classes in every possible topic have flourished since the pandemic.  Some companies like MasterClass have built an entire business in online classes.

Acting classes are no exception, and you can find a variety of classes online.  I take a weekly improv class online, and I find that while I enjoy the online class, it’s no substitute for in-person classes.  

Online acting classes may be the best option if you want to take a particular class with an instructor in another city.  Make sure you do your due diligence (see below) before signing up for any online class.

Ask the right questions before you commit to taking a class

Many, if not most, acting instructors expect students to pay for a certain number of classes upfront, often on a monthly basis.  It’s essential you know as much as possible about the instructor and the class before you commit to spending what’s usually a considerable amount of money. There are generally no refunds on prepaid acting classes if you don’t like the class.

Fortunately, you have the internet to help simplify your research.

  • Research the instructors and read reviews.  What are the online reviews of the class?

If the instructors claim to be working actors, what have they done?  Although it helps if an instructor is or has been an actor, an actor with loads of credits doesn’t necessarily make a great instructor.

Ask fellow actors if they’ve taken the class or know someone who has.  What do current and former students say about the way the instructor conducts the class?  Is their criticism constructive and helpful?  Are the students at different levels in their development or is everyone a beginner?  

I found the classes I took with all levels of students to be the most beneficial.  

  • Ask about class size.

How many students are in the class?  If each class is two to three hours long, you won’t get much of the instructor’s time if there are twenty-plus students in the class.  

I took one class that went on for about four hours because there were so many students in the class.  The last performers of the evening sometimes didn’t get to do their scenes until after 10 p.m. at night.  That’s not an ideal situation for an actor, especially since most actors have day jobs.

  • Will the instructor allow you to audit the class before you commit? 

Auditing a class will let you know if the class will be the best fit for you.  You’ll be able to get a feel for the instructor and their style of teaching.

Often the answer may be no auditing of classes, especially if the classes are popular or the instructor is well known, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. 


That’s my roundup of some of the major types of acting classes that can help you build the necessary skills to succeed as a working actor, as well as a few classes that may or may not be worth your time. 

There are many different ways aspiring actors can become working actors, but the first step is usually acting lessons.  Most successful careers are built on a firm foundation of training.  

The types of acting classes you decide to take depend on what skills you need to work on the most and where you want to be in the industry.




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