“Having studied in conservatories (Juilliard, New England Conservatory, London College of Music) and master classes in Europe and the US, I am happy to report that Maestro Mäkilä is easily one of the most productive and supportive conducting teachers I have worked with. He adroitly customizes his teaching based on each student’s goals and where each student is (and could be!) on their journey of learning the art and craft of conducting. Maestro Mäkilä is articulate, empathic, and fosters a safe environment for conductors as they place themselves in the vulnerable position of trying new techniques in front of professional orchestras.”

Dr. Roland Davis, Conducting Teaching Asst. New England Conservatory

The Sasha Mäkilä Conducting Masterclass has a great formula that works. There was everything a conductor (either beginner or advanced) could wish for: the highest level of professionalism and dedication mixed with the relaxed atmosphere and care. It was a safe space, where one could try a different interpretation, make a mistake, etc., but still be understood and encouraged to move forward. Truly an excellent experience

Daniil Blaniar, conductor and singer (Ukraine)

Having a lesson with Sasha was one of the best things I experienced as a conducting student at the RNCM. His approach to conducting technique comes from a synthesis between the best Russian and Finnish conducting Schools. His knowledge of traditions in the symphonic repertoire was illuminating for me. He is also a very open minded and extremely nice person to work with.

Marco Bellasi, Music Director of the Northern Rivers Symphony Orchestra (Australia)

“Sasha’s attentive and individualized teaching style helped me not only to improve drastically in a personalized way over the course of the masterclass, but to form long-term thoughts and plans for improvement in a larger scope. The results of the course are long-lasting and genuine!”

Bridget Kinneary, Music Director for the Mit Mach Musik youth music project and teacher of orchestra classes at the Berlin Cosmopolitan School

“Working with Maestro Sasha Mäkilä was an extraordinary experience. He has great control of orchestra conducting with an extraordinary technique for music. This was a fun masterclass also thanks to the St Michel Strings orchestra: their sound is magnificent and the musicians listen to the students carefully. It was also an opportunity to meet Valery Gergiev and his Mariinsky Orchestra. The masterclass allowed us to follow all his rehearsals and concerts. Working with Sasha Mäkilä and his orchestra is one of the best things I’ve done for my studies. He inspired me to think differently and to share my ideas easier. I deeply recommend conductors to work with him.”

Ayrton Desimpelaere, assistant conductor of Opéra Royal de Wallonie, music director of Namur Chamber Orchestra

“It was a great pleasure for me to participate in Sasha’s masterclass. The course was amazingly well organised with the repertoire and the schedule, as we were able to learn lots of repertoire in a week while having orchestra and piano sessions every day. The orchestra was very professional and attentive – the atmosphere stayed pleasant and we were able to try Sasha’s advice and feel the difference almost immediately. The biggest advantage for me was to understand how to communicate well with professional string instrument players, as I was trained as a wind instrument player. Thank you once more for the great time in Mikkeli!”

Leonard Kwon, conductor and recorder player

“For me Sasha’s masterclass was an amazing week of learning. Sasha created a great atmosphere where the music was the most important issue! I felt that he really enjoyed teaching us. He gave so much good information on how to improve yourself as a conductor. This way of teaching is really needed for the music scene.”

Eveliina Aijasaho, freelance violinist and conductor, creator of Taidefarmi (Art Farm)

“Although I have participated in several master classes as a singer and a violinist before, this was my first conducting masterclass in front of an orchestra. I am more than glad I ended up in Sasha’s class! The warm, positive and encouraging atmosphere really brought the best out of us all. It was such a pleasure to discover an oasis of learning, working, laughing and having great fun without any signs of arrogance (so common in music world today). I really enjoyed the possibility to get to know people from so many different countries. Friendship and music – that makes life worth living!”

Sanna Mansikkaniemi, freelance singer (mezzosoprano), violinist and choral conductor

“This was without a doubt the most fun workshop I’ve ever been to. The friendly and supportive atmosphere that Sasha created (and all of the players and participants reinforced) made it a joy to take risks and try new techniques. The whole thing ran smoothly and was very well organised. I can’t say enough about how exceptional Sasha’s teaching is. He treats students with a refreshing level of respect and offers suggestions without resorting to the ‘I’m right and you’re wrong’ framework that can be frustrating. It was well worth the trip and the cold, snowy weather.”

Jaemi Blair Loeb, Interim Director of Orchestras, Grinnell College. Principal Guest Conductor, Piccadilly Symphony Orchestra of Manchester, UK

“Sasha Mäkilä is an extraordinarily inspiring conductor and teacher. He has the ability to teach every student at their own level and help them develop their style in a judgement-free and light-spirited environment. His pedagogy being mostly based on observation, I have learned a lot by watching him conduct. His baton fluidity, gesture economy, sharp sense of observation and deep calmness on the podium, has greatly inspired me. Apart from technical aspects, what fascinated me was his capacity to connect with the musicians in a very discrete yet extremely powerful way. Furthermore, his patience, light-heartedness and real friendship make working with him a truly pleasurable moment. In a world where conducting can sometimes be an emotionally challenging activity, I cannot stress enough the importance of studying with Sasha for every conductor who is searching for inner solidity and dexterity of gesture, but most of all looking to have a great moment!”

Dimitri Soudoplatoff, conductor and composer

“I thoroughly enjoyed and learnt a great deal while attending Sasha’s masterclasses in Mikkeli. Ample podium time with the orchestra plus piano sessions allow the student to really get into the detail of the work. Sasha’s guidance in front of the orchestra was excellent, knowing when to step in and offer advice but also when to allow the students to work it out live with the orchestra in a friendly environment, a valuable experience for any conductor! Sasha was very generous with his time with the conducting discussions continuing at the post masterclass dinners or breakfasts!”

Mark Edwards, director of music for Newcastle Sinfonietta, Hexham Orpheus Choir, Northern Praeclassica, workshop leader for Streetwise Opera, lecturer in conducting at Newcastle University and associate conductor for ‘Voices of Hope’

“I met Sasha Mäkilä in Pärnu, Estonia in 2017 and took part in his masterclass with the Pärnu City Orchestra. Sasha has a lot of experience with both western and Russian type of orchestras. He explained specifics of the different orchestras, different conducting techniques, traditions. Also it was very useful to know more about managing your life and career as a conductor. Between the sessions where he shared his experience in technique, analysis and musicality, it was always possible to ask his opinion about every aspect of conducting and get very rich, helpful, interesting and guiding answers. The course in Estonia was very well organized and Sasha Mäkilä created a very warm and friendly atmosphere. I would like to mention that Sasha is very supportive not only during his masterclass. Thanks to his support and good recommendations I had a possibility to take part in the 2nd International Women Conductors Workshop in New York, US organized by New York Conducting Institute. Afterwards I had the great honor to take part at OneWorld Symphonic Festival in Virginia, US as a guest conductor.”

Gabriele Biveiniene, conducting Masters student at University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz, Austria

“I participated in Sasha Mäkilä’s masterclass with Pärnu City Orchestra in 2017. I felt that he is a good listener and a warm-hearted teacher. When I asked him about a tricky musical interpretation of symphonic music, he suggested different ways that are susceptible to various interpretations, and then he concretely showed the accurate and practicable conducting skills to the students. It was not only easily understandable, but it was a valuable example which led the conducting students to find how to have an insight into music. I remember that after the concert he gave every student warm advice – something I had never experienced in other masterclasses. Plus, the masterclass with the Pärnu City Orchestra in Estonia is well-organized, and the orchestra members really welcomed us.”

Hee Jun Lim, postgraduate conducting student at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama

“Successively attending Sasha’s Masterclasses in Mikkeli was truly enriching to my conducting career. His meticulous, patient and insightful teaching abilities helped refine my conducting technique and taught me the crucial role of a clean conducting technique. Sasha is an extraordinary teacher with a lot of experience. Having lessons with Sasha is an experience you won’t forget because every lesson is a lifelong lesson.”

Xavier Cloete, winner of the 2013 Len van Zyl Conductors’ Competition, lecturer in orchestral conducting and conductor at the Free State University in Bloemfontein, South Africa

“Spending time studying with Sasha Mäkilä has been the most rewarding learning experience of my conducting career. He not only gave me new tools to use when in front of the orchestra but an open and honest dialogue about the ins and outs of being a leader from the podium. Sasha Mäkilä is a true conducting pedagogue and musician that every conductor, young and old, should spend time studying with.”

Ross Gordon, Band Director at Sam Rayburn High School

“The East Texas International Conducting Masterclass was outstanding. Sasha Mäkilä’s teaching style is a balance of precision and light-heartedness, which makes taking in new ideas and learning new techniques enjoyable. He possesses a wonderfully patient personality that enables him to work with students of all levels in an equally effective manner. His approach to conducting technique provides a great foundation for conductors of any age and I would consider it essential for any serious student. Don’t miss the opportunity to study with him!”

Todd Craven, Music Director of the Orlando Contemporary Chamber Orchestra, Assistant Conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra

“I have had the pleasure of studying with maestro Sasha Mäkilä on several occasions. I first met him when I was studying conducting at the Royal Northern College of Music, where he was a guest conductor and teacher. His way of teaching conducting is very natural and to the point, and gives me both good ideas on how to conduct certain repertoire, but also instructions on how to work with my technique when practicing on my own. I really enjoy the way he makes the orchestra sound and phrase, this is what I aim for in my own conducting. I was very inspired and motivated to work hard after the conducting lessons in Manchester, and after moving to Helsinki I continued to take private lessons from Sasha together with other Sibelius Academy conducting students.”

Maria Molund, freelance conductor (formerly Music Director of Asker og Bærum ungdomskorps, Kolbotn Konsertorkester and Jernbanens musikkorps Oslo, and conductor of Ostrobothnia Brassband, Finland)

“I have been taught by Sasha Mäkilä on a number of occasions, and have always really enjoyed his very clear teaching style. He always encourages the best out of his students, whilst giving helpful advice on the many different aspects that make up a successful conductor. Sometimes we will benefit from his strong technical knowledge, and on other occasions we will discuss the ins-and-outs of score preparation and effective ways to communicate with an orchestra. Sasha always gives honest, but inspirational feedback which is very important to take on after the class and to your next rehearsal.”

Tom Newall, Music Director of Blackburn Music Society, Salford Choral Society and Leeds Youth Opera, Artistic Director of Piccadilly Symphony Orchestra

“Studying with Sasha Mäkilä is the best thing I could’ve done to help my development as a conductor. Sasha has taught me that the important thing is to encourage the musicians of the orchestra; not to demand things from them. He has helped me to discover that a good conductor is one that works with the musicians in a way that makes it seem effortless; a trait he undoubtedly has. Sasha Mäkilä is the best kind of teacher: one who cares just as much about the success of his students as his own. He makes himself relatable to his students so that he creates an environment of good communication, creativity, and learning.”

Dorian Neuendorf, Artistic Director of the Hendersonville Symphony Youth Orchestra and Assistant Conductor of the Union Symphony Orchestra