Michael Laskin Studio

“Michael is an excellent acting teacher and coach, and has helped me grow exponentially as an actor.” RJ Mitte, Star of "Breaking Bad"
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Conducting, without waving

When my wife Emily worked for the Los Angeles Philharmonic for 15 years, we got to know the musical director at that time:  Esa-Pekka Salonen, who was (and is) a world class conductor and composer.  But a conductor, no matter how talented and inspired, can only do so much with an orchestra that is uninspired, pedestrian, uninterested, etc. As Salonen got more enmeshed with this (already fine) orchestra, their playing got better and better. Soon they were considered among the world’s elite. And when they finally reached that level of skill and passion, there were a few times that I observed when Salonen would stop actively conducting in the middle of a piece, and stand there for a brief while, arms at his side, and let the orchestra play – their music washing over him. It was understood that for that brief while, they were flying without his wings. Listening to each other deeply. He then resumed his conducting with renewed passion.

That’s how I felt in my regular weekly class last week.  It was an extraordinary class, and I just let the superb work wash over me. It was our final class before a summer break, and for some reason everything fell into place perfectly. Not every class is like that – we’re human and sometimes things are just off. Not last night.  It was ON. The level of work I saw would be at home anyplace, anywhere. That’s not hyperbole. Everyone who was there could confirm that……

But before I go too far, I have to remind myself and those who were there to not strain our arms by patting ourselves on the back too hard!  Be very mindful of that. Remain humble, remain focused. It’s a short journey from excellence to self-worship. That’s how cults begin, and cult-ish behavior has a habit of creeping into the world of acting classes. It’s toxic, and that’s when you loose site of the mission.

Teaching, nurturing, and convening artists is an honor and a heavy responsibility that I take seriously. On Wednesday nights at 7:30 we remain true to the mission.  It becomes our “magnetic north” and every once in a while I have the pleasure of simply watching it happen and letting it wash over me.