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 Rachel Jamieson

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.

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 will 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.


Instructor: David Ollington

This course is a dancer's workshop emphasizing modern technique with supplemental ballet technique. Students will develop a structural understanding of how the body initiates and performs movement and will discover static and dynamic body alignment. They will also develop physical stamina, strength, flexibility, articulation, coordination, musicality, and phrasing. Through this training, dancers will find themselves grounded, centered, and secure.

In conjunction with these physical and intellectual pursuits, they will explore the performance energy that goes beyond the body; call it “stage presence”, or “projection”. Modern dance technique may be less familiar to most students than is ballet. In modern dance, strengthening the core and lengthening through the spine and appendages are primary. Based in the concept of Fall and Recovery, this athletic style of dance emphasizes grounding and gaining energy from the earth into full-out momentum and locomotion. Musicality and phrasing will also be emphasized to assist in capturing the largest dynamic range.

Dancers must dress in tights and a leotard, a unitard, or close fitting sweat pants and t-shirt. Hair must be secured. Bare feet for class with socks available.

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

Instructors: Rich Cline, Megan Frauenhoffer, Emily Squires, and Nicholas Ward

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 Music

Instructors: Melinda Lein and Paula Patterson

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 15, 2015.

A Day —

Epistemology in Drawing

Instructor: Nicholas Ward

Through a series of explorations with traditional drawing materials, this class will traverse its way through a series of visual thinking practices that question both common and uncommon modes of pictorial representation. Focusing on drawing as a mode of thought. Students will explore drawing as symbol, memory and observation. Throughout the duration of this class students will grow not only in their adeptness of manipulating artistic materials but also in their understanding of nuanced visual communication.

This class welcomes students of all skill levels.

Forum Theatre

Instructor: Rachel Jamieson

Augusto Boal calls it a "rehearsal for life" as students will explore Theatre of the Oppressed techniques and movement-based activities stemming from situations of oppression that will eventually develop into Forum Theatre pieces. With this interactive theatre form, audience members become "spect-actors" that can step into roles on stage and try out different scenarios that will facilitate healthy and lively discussions about how to make change.

No experience required — all are welcome in this course!


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.


Instructor: Eric Schultz

Ever wanted to know how music is mixed? Somewhere between chemistry and composition, between math and magic, between careful planning and dumb luck exists the world of audio mixing. In this class, students will enter this world and work on creatively mixing down pre-recorded songs in a variety of musical styles (jazz, rock, R&B, hip-hop, others?). We will learn about the basics of digital audio, song structure, musical balancing, and signal processing. We will work primarily with Avid Pro Tools, the industry-standard digital audio mixing & recording software.

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

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.

The Mutable Flow

Instructor: Rich Cline

Every day is a work of art. A mutable flow exists in objects and routines that often go unnoticed. Prepare to step out of your comfort zone and explore these everyday items and daily undertakings as a revolutionary works of art. We will explore the Fluxus phenomenon, Arte Povera and the works of Allen Kaprow in an effort to develop a conceptual vocabulary in relation to art. Students will be expected to create “scores,” construct flux boxes, games and symphonies that serve to interpret the world using metaphors based upon the power and sensual density of new, unorthodox and often clashing materials.

Open to any student.

Process / Play

Instructor: Megan Frauenhoffer

This elective will focus on exploring the idea process of art creation. Artists of all types get stuck sometimes and have to learn to play with their process in order to see new solutions to old problems. Learn to avoid the creative blocks and enjoy the process as the class will explore and share different ways of thinking and recording ideas. The students will experiment with new media, investigate techniques and receive challenges or prompts at the beginning of class. Along the way, we will survey modern and historical artist examples that show off their artistic process. As a group, students will share their observations and themes found in their experiments.

Open to any student with visual art experience.


Instructor: Melissa Ventimiglia

Music and lyrics by . . . YOU! No experience necessary but bring what you've got. We'll create, co-write, and find our voices as songwriters. Any instruments will be helpful but aren't required.

Open to any student.

The Ten Minute Play

Instructor: Julie Bloodworth

In this writer's workshop you’ll write your own ten-minute play, following the guidelines of the National Ten-Minute Play Contest. In the company of your fellow playwrights, you'll create writing jump-starts, use clear format guidelines, receive supportive feedback, and hear your work given voice. What you do with your play is up to you. You may choose to join with your classmates for an MFAA play-reading festival; you may involve MFAA performers in a staged reading; you may continue to polish your play after the Academy's ended; you may even submit it to the National Ten-Minute Play Contest for your shot at being a produced playwright at a nationally renowned festival. We'll be working in a computer lab, so bring a flash drive.

Open to any student.

What we say and how we say it matters: Visual Manifestos

Instructor: Emily Squires

In this class, students will create their own personal artistic manifesto combining text and imagery through basic printmaking, collage, and writing exercises. Students will be exposed to a variety of texts and asked to write some of their own. We will look at language from the ground up and explore printmaking from its earliest purpose — the dissemination of knowledge and information via the printed word — through looking at propaganda posters and other examples of text-based imagery. We will also experiment with collaboration and appropriation and examine what happens when a multitude of voices are collapsed into one.

No previous printmaking experience necessary. Creative writers welcome.

— B Day 

The Abominable

Instructor: Rich Cline

You're not bored. You're boring. Isn't there something that can be taken away from any experience? Are you passively disengaged in life or are your antennae consistently up and alert, ready to grasp the creative potential in things often taken for granted. We will explore the creative possibilities of ordinary items, simple tasks, and articles of popular culture. We will engage in the acts of music composition, instrument construction, choreographed performance, collaborative installation and theatre. The works of Futurism, John Cage, Vito Acconci and Meredith Monk will serve as reference points for our creations. We will engage in exercises using deconstruction, reconstruction, structuralism, and isolation to reach our goal of developing a metaphysical tool box that can be used as a source of creativity for years to come. Bring nothing but an open mind, a writing utensil, and a notebook, as everything else that you will need to create already exists.

Open to any student.

The Art of Song: Poetry on a Pedestal

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.

Broadway Babies

Instructor: Paula Patterson

Discover the roots of musical theatre and explore its history through the most current Broadway shows. Participants will learn about influential composers/writing teams, sing in a variety of musical theatre styles, and discover source materials/websites for inspiration. Participants should bring any musical theatre music they own, be prepared to sing, and engage in class discovery and discussions.

Open to any student with vocal music experience.

Drawing from Imagination

Instructor: Megan Frauenhoffer

Have great ideas, but difficulty putting those images to paper? This class will provide you the skills to draw whatever pops up in your head. You will learn to compile references, create studies, and visually break down and build up complex forms. Throughout the class, students will receive exercises and assignments that will push their drawing skills. Students will also see how professional artists, designers, and illustrators process works from beginning thumbnail stages to finished works.

Open to any student with visual art experience.

Film Music

Instructor: Tom Polett

This course will examine the practice of creating soundtracks for the motion picture industry. Examples of films that employ different types of collaboration between directors and composers will be studied. In some releases, the film is made before the soundtrack is created; in others, the music is composed before the film is shot; and in some examples, the music is improvised during the creation of the film. In class we will look at how these processes affect the outcome of the film. We will also analyze common compositional devices used to portray particular characters, settings, and situations. Students will work in groups to set various film examples to music. In some cases, pre-existing music will be used, and in others the group will create the music to enhance the images provided.

Open to any student.

Greater than the Sum

Instructor: Julie Bloodworth

Aristotle's famous quote "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts" guides this collaborative writing workshop. What can participants in this workshop create together that surpasses what each can do alone? That's what we're going to explore through poetry, prose, and dialogue using a treasure chest of writing strategies. 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.

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 the subsequent dismantling/mangling/deconstruction/re-working of those sounds to create mind-bending 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.

No prior computer, recording or musical experience is required. 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.

Shadow Puppetry

Instructor: Rachel Jamieson

Inspired by nationally renowned Redmoon Theatre techniques, students will have the opportunity to design, create and perform with shadow puppets, design environments and interact with movement to cultivate interactive art presentations that use overhead projectors and other found objects. The power is in the visual relationships and stories told through spectacle and life between simple puppetry and human reactions.

No experience required — all are welcome in this course — come and play!

We Read Stuff We Is Smart

Instructor: Melissa Ventimiglia

"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 has long been a running joke during each painful reading of Romeo and Juliet as well as those ridiculously boring units on poetry. Here's the thing though, text is amazing, it's us that makes it boring. 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. So say we all.

Open to any student.

— C Evening

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.

As I Went Out One Morning . . .

Instructor: Joey Borovicka

In this visual art workshop we will explore "journeys" as a motif in art. Each student will be required to make one visual art piece based on a journey, whether that journey is real or imagined. The piece may be in any visual media including, but not limited to, painting, drawing, collage, graphic novel, artist's book, or animation. In addition to actual journeys through our immediate surroundings, we will experience and discuss examples of journeys in visual art, music, literature, and film. Expect to end somewhere other than where you begin.

Open to any student.

Devised Theatre

Instructor: Rachel Jamieson

This powerful form of theatre is used by Sojourn Theatre using Michael Rohd’s "Theatre for Community, Conflict and Dialogue" techniques. Through facilitated activities, students will use choose their own subject matter and create a play using music, movement, dialogue and other developed approaches to creating a short theatre piece. Performance experience is not necessary — this is more putting art and critical thinking into performance — all are welcome!

Open to any student.

Dive Into Choral Music

Instructor: Robert Battle

Dive into choral music will explore ensemble singing in a whole new way. Singers will perfect the art of singing pop, blues, and classical music while striving for tight harmonies and rich ensemble tone.

The ability to match pitch and willingness to sing with others is required. While previous choral experience is not necessary, musical ability and an understanding of singing is needed to be successful in this fast paced a cappella explosion. Dive into the vast ocean of choral singing and the many possibilities it offers.

Open to any student.

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.

Lend Me Your Vocal Chords

Instructor: Melissa Ventimiglia

Can you lend me your vocal chords? Mine have been removed. Can you attach a tongue to the rear of my mouth? I am told mine was a dangerous weapon. With one last request, I ask that you attach your jaw to my skull at the hinge, they couldn't take any chances that I might bite.

 The minorities, the oppressed, the silenced. This course explores art as a tool for subversion. Social change disguised as entertainment. A voice for those who have had theirs ignored. Browncoats are strongly encouraged to apply.

Open to any student interested in exploring how to use their art as a vehicle for change.

@MFAA_Dispatch / #wearethenews

Instructor: Emily Squires

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 historical and changing role of the newspaper in the dissemination of information, media and language. We will examine the differences between print and digital platforms and use Twitter to engage with the broader MFAA community in the creation of meaningful content. We will also look at the work of other artists who incorporate the news as raw material and/or socio-political commentary into their own creative practice.

This course is open to students of all disciplines.