Curriculum (2016)

1. Interdisciplinary Artistic Studies

The Interdisciplinary (ID) course at Missouri Fine Arts Academy

  • Is facilitated by a team of teachers from different artistic disciplines
  • Is composed of a student group, including artists from various disciplines, that stay together throughout the duration of the class
  • Revolves around a broad theme that embraces all of the following disciplines: vocal music, instrumental music, visual arts, theatre, and dance
  • Provides all students with active participation experiences in each of these disciplines, facilitated by peers and by teachers with artistic expertise
  • Allows student to shape, in great measure, the course experiences
  • Recognizes the facilitators have valuable experience, insights, knowledge, and talents
  • Includes a concept-based interdisciplinary presentation that encompasses student participation in all the fine arts areas and addresses the broad theme
  • Culminates in an evaluation session that includes evaluation of the presentations themselves, group processes, and student learning

Each student will spend every class day morning working in an innovative course of an interdisciplinary nature.

Each interdisciplinary group is composed of about 25 students, including vocalists, instrumentalists, visual artists, dancers, and actors. Each group experience is facilitated by two faculty members with specialties in different artistic disciplines. Students and facilitators in each group work collaboratively to explore a single broad theme. The process of exploration naturally involves students’ participation in experiences that meet Missouri’s performance standards for students in its schools

  • Gather, analyze and apply information and ideas
  • Communicate effectively within and beyond the classroom
  • Recognize and solve problems
  • Make decision and act as responsible members of society

Each of the five interdisciplinary groups creates a unique presentation that illustrates the Academy theme and that incorporates all the artistic disciplines represented at the Academy. These presentations are shared with the rest of the Academy community. A reflection and evaluation session follows the presentations.

Course Objectives (.doc, 39K)
Rationale, Plan and Strategies (.doc, 46K)


2. Discipline-Specific Artistic Studies

All students participate in a class focusing on the discipline in which they were accepted to the Academy:


Instructors: Kurt Heinlein and David Ollington

Actor training is sometimes defined as the "discovery and development of the actor's expressive behavior." This course will provide practical application of acting, voice, and movement techniques through a wide host of methodological approaches. Students will be exposed to a variety of different artists and teaching outlooks with the goal of developing self-confidence, improvisation and listening skills, moment to moment awareness, irreverence, and foundational work with text. The primary objective is to assist young artists in developing core performance skills for the stage through the presence of a trusting and collaborative classroom environment. Students should come to class prepared to move.

Sequential Literature

Instructor: Michael Frizell

With great power comes great writing! Comic book stories unfold through a series of panels, snapshots that capture the interesting or thrilling moments of a story for the reader. As a collaborative medium, a comic book writer must describe each panel for an artist to interpret for the page. During this session, you'll learn how to develop your idea into a short story for a visual medium.

Instrumental Music

Instructor: Tom Polett and Eric Schultz

Instrumental music study explores the musician's goals of technical mastery and effective expression. Class activities will include solo and ensemble presentations/performances, peer observance/criticism, lecture-demonstrations, and informal discussions. Topics will include interpretation, practice and performance strategies, and music history, literature, and theory. Please prepare two etudes or solo pieces to play for master class sessions.

Visual Art: Principles of Design

Instructors: Kyle McKenzie, Chris Mostyn, Nicholas Ward, and Judge Bockman

Principles of Design is the required core curriculum for visual arts students at the Missouri Fine Arts Academy. In small groups and individually, students will explore the roles that artistic foundations such as context, intention, voice, materials, and content play in contemporary art making.

Vocal Studies: Jazz, Pop and Rock

Instructor: Robert Battle

This course is designed for students who are studying jazz, pop, and rock, and other genres closely related. A combination of class discussion, lecture, practical application, and master classes will serve to introduce students to pertinent topics such as the vocal mechanism, breath management, vocal health, and basics of diction, practice and discipline, and preparation of vocal literature.

Students should come to the class prepared with two sheet music to two piece of music to work on over the course of the class. One piece should be a traditional jazz piece or something from the American songbook. The other piece can be of the singer's choosing (Beyonce's "XO", Prince's "Kiss from a Rose," etc). This gives students the benefit of learning from their peers as well as individual attention from the instructor. This class meets regularly on each academic day for the duration of the Academy.

Vocal Music: Technique

Instructors: Melinda Lein

This course is designed to allow students to explore the kinesthetic and psychological skills that contribute to success and confidence as a singer. A combination of class discussion, lecture, practical application, and master classes will serve to introduce students to pertinent topics such as the vocal mechanism, breath management, vocal health, and basics of diction, practice and discipline, and preparation of vocal literature.

Participating students should arrive at the Academy with two pieces (at least one in English) prepared and memorized for performance, and two other pieces to work on. Selections may come from art song or musical theater repertoire and may be in English, French, Italian, or German. During master classes, all students watch and listen as the instructor works with one student at a time. This gives students the benefit of learning from their peers as well as individual attention from the instructor. This class meets regularly on each academic day for the duration of the Academy.


3. Elective Classes

Each Academy student takes three elective classes, one each from "A" Day, "B" Day, and "C" Evening courses. Students may use the course selection form to submit their top three course choices for each elective period.

The deadline for the course selection form is May 16, 2016.

— A Day —


Instructor: Kyle McKenzie

Throughout history, artists have attempted to capture the spirit of their individual times and places. In this painting course, we will create allegories for now and here.


Instructor: Jacob Hiser

"Music is the universal language." That phrase may seem cliche, but current music education tends to focus solely on being able to read written music. When it comes to spoken languages, reading is an important skill, but the majority of our communication is through listening and speaking. We originally learn to speak by listening to what we hear and imitating it, eventually internalizing the words until we can communicate our own thoughts. To be strong improvisers, musicians must build their vocabulary of "words" by critically listening to and internalizing a wide variety of music. Once a vocabulary is established, the improvisers then work to "speak" their own ideas in a clear, coherent way in any musical situation they find themselves in. In this course, we will listen closely to excerpts from classical, jazz, rock, and folk traditions, and learn them by ear, building our musical vocabulary. Using that vocabulary, we will improvise as a group, arrange some tunes, and possibly do some composing. Knowledge of music theory is helpful, but not necessary. All instrumentalists and vocalists are welcome. Be willing to open your ears to new sounds.

Open to any student with a background in instrumental and/or vocal music.

Beginning Modern Dance

Instructor: David Ollington

Move. Reach. Fall. Leap. This class will introduce the student to modern dance based on the Graham, Limón, and Nikolai Louis techniques. We’ll be learning sequences of movement and dancing them to music. Be ready to run, jump, roll, walk, hop, and move in any other manner. Ideally, students should be in dance attire, tights, unitard, leotard, jazz pants. Close-fitting t-shirts and sweat pants are allowed. Knees need to be covered. Bare feet. Hair needs to be up and secure.

Public and Private Identities in Autobiography

Instructor: Michael Frizell

Using a series of everyday life performance strategies including role-play, improvisation techniques, storytelling, and performance of personal narratives, students will explore the related themes of community health, social well-being, and effective communication in order to affect positive change in people's attitudes and behaviors. Students will examine the "ordinary" person's life affected by public events by reading published creative nonfiction pieces and writing about their own lives. To culminate the class, students will choose a suitable medium, such as poetry, art, film, theatrical monologue, etc. to express an autobiographical impulse and showcase their work.

Poetry on a Pedestal: The Art of Song

Instructor: Melinda Lein

More than pleasing melodies and catchy lyrics, song is a timeless and meaningful means of communication. Within this course, singers will delve deeply into both the textual and musical elements that make up this powerful genre. Emphasis will be placed on poetic expression; verbal and musical interpretation of text; and artistry of the singer in re-creating this text-music fusion. Participating students should bring at least one art song (NO opera arias, musical theater songs, or pop songs please; although arrangements of folksongs, hymns, or spirituals are acceptable.) — preferably in English — of which some musical preparation has already been accomplished. Expect to memorize and perform in class this piece.

Open to any student with vocal music experience and ability to understand the basics of a music score.


Instructor: Melissa Harper

Whether you've been writing your own poetry for years, been performing competitive poetry, or spend your nights watching YouTube videos of your favorite poets this class is yours. For those looking to get into this intense form of performance poetry. This class will be part observation, part writing, and part performance. Slam will cover the basics of construction, performance, judging, critique, and adjustment.

Open to any student.

Character Counts

Instructor: Chris Mostyn

This class will look at the process of developing original characters based upon human traits and personalities. We will look at anthropomorphic animals, monsters, and a variety of techniques and approaches to developing powerful characters that can be used in comics, films, animation and games. Students will create a small portfolio of original characters based upon a united theme.

Art and Music of Change

Instructor: Tom Polett

This course will examine the rich history of music and all of the arts; how they have responded to society and have been the catalyst for social change. Examples from the distant and recent past will be studied that demonstrate how artists have changed the world by raising public awareness of injustice, presented models of peaceful co-existence in times of war, and provided a mirror of ourselves in our best and worst moments. Students will work in groups to create new art of all forms that provides a commentary on the world we live in. What do you feel strongly about? Find that way to show the world through your art instead of saying it.

Open to any student.

I Want to Tell You

Instructor: Julie Bloodworth

"I want to tell you/my head is filled with things to say." George Harrison

This workshop is your chance to develop and share aloud your own true story, using as a model the popular nation-wide storytelling project, "The Moth." Storytelling's a central characteristic of being human, and every one of us has a head full of things to say, so this workshop is open to all students. Participants in this workshop need only a willingness to shape and share their own true stories. Together, we'll generate ideas, build story structure, and rehearse. The stories that emerge from this workshop won't be read, memorized, or recited; they'll be told. Want to know more? Explore "The Moth" storytelling project and listen to stories at

Sculptural Masks

Instructor: Judge Bockman

Either to conceal, express, protect or celebrate; masks have been used for various reasons all over the globe since Neolithic times. Whatever your reasons may be, this class will help investigate concepts and themes surrounding this performative object. Using an additive process of common everyday items you will plan and construct a piece of wearable sculpture.

— B Day 

Music and Drama: The Great Experiment

Instructor: Melinda Lein

Designed to give a practical and historical foundation to musicians and dramatists alike, this course will allow us to examine how music and drama interact to enhance the artistic experience. Genres ranging from ballet, melodrama, musical theater and film will be considered but special focus will be placed on the development of the unique and often strange concept of opera. In a workshop setting in which we will create our own opera, classes will also include discussion, lecture, viewing, listening, and writing to explore the various ways music and drama are linked. Students should come to class with an inquisitive mind and a desire to be challenged. While helpful, no musical background is necessary, although willingness to sing/make music in class is expected (instrumentalists, you may be asked to “sing” with your instrument). Enter at your own risk!

Open to any student.

Movement Improvisation/Vocal Improvisation

Instructor: David Ollington

In "Movement Improvisation/Vocal Improvisation," we'll work on developing interdisciplinary improvisation that incorporates vocalization and physical movement. Using breath, rhythm, interactive exercises, and imagery, we'll develop methods of creating and expressing ideas with sound and motion. Theatre exercises, movement improvisational structures, and voice work will be incorporated. Be willing to step into another discipline, to try something new.

Open to any student with experience in dance, theatre, or music.

From the Page to the Stage

Instructor: Michael Frizell

Perfect for the student actor, director or writer looking for a fun and creative challenge, writers will learn how to adapt short plays from established, published material, workshop their pieces and present them in a final reader's theatre performance intended for children. This elective will stretch the student's creativity in ways that will give him or her a sense of confidence and accomplishment. Selected works will be performed by the Missouri State University In-School Players on their tour during the 2016/2017 school year.

Futurism and Beyond

Instructor: Tom Polett

This course will examine historic movements of "Performance Art" by reading and observing followed by the creation of live art pieces in many genres. Special attention will be placed on works that forced audiences to re-evaluate the definition of art.

Three historically significant performance art movements that will be studied are Futurismo, Bauhaus, and Fluxus Art, as well as more recent trends. All students will be involved in the creation of visual, kinetic, musical, and theatrical pieces that will be shared with the campus community.

No previous experience with creating or performing art is necessary.

Comics and Cartooning

Instructor: Chris Mostyn

Students will be developing an original comic strip based upon themes we develop in the workshop. We will learn about timing, characters, setting as well as a host of techniques and skills needed to create comics, comic books and other graphic storytelling forms.

Singing with Soul

Instructor: Robert Battle

A course that will offer students a historic overview of the architects and pioneers of soul singing. Students will study performance and vocal techniques, as well as be assigned listening examples required to successfully sing and perform rhythmic phrasing and nuances indicative of soul, blues, R&B, gospel, and hip-hop. In addition, students will perform some music of great artists, such as Ray Charles, Minnie Ripperton, Fats Domino, Jean Carne, Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, LaVern Baker, Peabo Bryson, Wilson Pickett, Mavis Staples, Donny Hathaway, Gladys Knight, Sylvester, Glen Jones, Shirley Caesar, Mahalia Jackson, the Clarke Sisters, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Tata Vega, Jeffrey Osborne, George Benson, Natalie Cole, Karen Wheeler, Lauryn Hill, Luther Vandross, Patti LaBelle, and a host of others.

We Read Stuff We Is Smart

Instructor: Melissa Harper

"The blue curtains represent the sadness the author was feeling over the loss of their Akita Evita and so show the actor that a single tear should fall from their cheek during their recitation of the line." WHAT?! The interpretation of text can be a running joke during each painful Jr. High reading of Romeo and Juliet as well as those ridiculously boring units on poetry. We often gloss right over what makes text truly amazing. This course helps to explore the reading of text in a way that benefits you as an actor, director, or designer. You should come expecting to deepen your understanding of character development as well as how each character works together to form a cohesive piece.

Open to any student.

On Beyond Aesthetics

Instructor: Nicholas Ward

Referencing Dr. Seuss's similarly titled and very peculiar alphabet book "On Beyond Zebra" (a story in which new and unusual letters must be invented to describe things that otherwise cannot be expressed through the alphabet) this course explores and challenges how we experience, value and create visual art. In this course students will use non-traditional methods and techniques to experience a new and meaningful conception and value of art beyond aesthetics. Students will be challenged to view, create and assess works of art with expanded notions of visual language.

This class welcomes students of all skill levels.

Another Brick in the Wall

Instructor: Eric Schultz

Students in this class will be focused on aspects of how popular songs are constructed, both from a musical and lyrical point of view. Students will learn a simple and reliable method of analyzing any kind of song, from country to hip-hop, that can then be used to guide their own creative process in any discipline. Relationships between words and sound and structure will be thoroughly explored. We will examine a wide spectrum of music, ranging from the Beatles to Kanye.

Anyone interested in songwriting, poetry or learning more about how words and sound work together is encouraged to take this class. No knowledge of music theory or notation is required. Open to any Academy student.

"...How do you know when you're done?"

Instructor: Judge Bockman

Is it done? Could it be pushed further, applied in a new way, broken down or worked up? This course will explore the concepts of finished work and sift through the near endless possibilities of where it could go from its completion. In this class we will learn to use Adobe Photoshop and Premiere to manipulate, animate, and regurgitate anything you might consider done.

— C Evening

Creative Writing

Instructor: Julie Bloodworth

Prose, poetry, dramatic dialogue, and essay will comprise the bulk of our work, but we'll tackle other forms as they arise. We'll read some published authors for inspiration and discussion. Our focus will be with our own observing, writing, and creating. This class is aimed at developing process and attack. We'll share our work and our ideas daily but won't strive for polish. Bring a pen and a notebook. Home base will be a computer lab, so bring a flash drive if you like composing on a computer.

Earth Song: Dive into Choral Music

Instructor: Robert Battle

The voice can be used as a paint brush to create visual textures that elicit a visual and emotional experience for the listener. This performance and recording ensemble is designed to help each participant explore the art of composed and improvised vocal expression, including instrumental singing and vocal improvisation. Students will learn how to use their entire body as a performance instrument; explore the art of vocal and body percussion; and discover a renewed sense of freedom to discover his or her own style of vocal expression and improvisation.

Introduction to Stage Combat

Instructor: Kurt Heinlein

This course is an introduction to the fundamentals of unarmed stage violence, with focus upon an approach that emphasizes a solid methodology, sound technique, physical listening, and most importantly, safety. Students will be exposed to a broad range of skills, including kicks, punches, slaps, rolls, dives, throws, and grappling techniques.

Open to any student who is prepared for the demands of a physically intensive class.


Instructor: Kyle McKenzie

Light and dark construct our visual world. We understand our environment, and our relationship to it, because light exposes portions and darkness obscures others. Using projections, colored lights, silhouettes, and shadows we will explore traditional and unconventional means of making images. Media may include paper, paint, digital photography, and installation.


Instructor: Nicholas Ward

In this evening workshop, students will collectively create an MFAA "newspaper," to be created, produced, and disseminated four times throughout the academy. We will reflect on the role of media and language as a tool for illumination, critical reflection and change. We will also look at the work of artists who incorporate the use of socio-political, critical, and subversive expression in their own creative practice.

This course is open to students of all disciplines.

The Poetics of Space

Instructor: Joey Borovicka

"A house that has been experienced is not an inert box." — Gaston Bachelard, La poétique de l’espace.

In this workshop we will experience our "house"—the building that houses our classroom—by investigating, influencing, and reimagining it. Through collaborative visual art and writing, we will create a portrait of the space based on actual observations as well as complete fabrications. Students interested in drawing, writing, looking at maps, creating optical illusions, and exploring the imaginary universes that exist in the gaps beneath locked doors should find this workshop valuable.

The Clash

Instructor: Melissa Harper

"A house that has been experienced is not an inert box." — Gaston Bachelard, La poétique de l’espace.

This class meets at the intersection of being a songwriter and a working musician. Songwriters often find themselves at odds with wanting to play original music and needing a hook (cover music) in order to get people to listen. This class will explore aspects of songwriting, forming and keeping a band, and remaining true to your artistry while getting a foot in the door as a musician. This class is open to all students interested in songwriting and playing popular music. We will put these explorations into practical application, so playing an instrument is strongly recommended, but not required.

Open to any student.

Groove Destroyer

Instructor: Eric Schultz

The focus of this class will be on the creative use of digital audio production software to produce nifty grooves and beats, followed by the subsequent mangling, deconstruction and re-imagining of those sounds to create even more satisfying new works of unexpected sonic art. Along the way, we'll learn about digital audio production, groove-making techniques, audio signal processing, and the value of not taking your own work too seriously. We will be working in the Ableton LIVE software platform.

No prior computer, recording or musical experience is required. Open to any Academy student.

Myths and Fairytales

Instructor: Megan Frauenhoffer

Folklore is a popular subject matter in historical and contemporary paintings, illustrations, and sculptures. This elective will explore the idea process and creation behind popular fairytales and myths. The class will challenge students to look into the subtext of these stories and add their own personal context and image motifs with their chosen narrative. You will learn to compile references, create studies, and visually plan your project. Students will also see how professional artists, designers, and illustrators process works from beginning thumbnail stages to finished works. Along the way, we will survey modern and historical artist examples that show off their artistic process.

Open to any student with visual art experience.