Tennessee Governors School for the Arts

Mission Statement and Philosophy


The Tennessee Governor's School for the Arts is a four-week summer program for rising eleventh and twelfth grade students in Tennessee. Administered by the State Department of Education, the program offers intensive study programs in art, dance, filmmaking, theatre, and music. Students are selected in competitive auditions usually during the months of January or February. Auditions are open to Tennessee residents who attend public or private schools.

The School for the Arts at MTSU focuses on music, dance, filmmaking, visual arts, and theatre. In music, students rehearse daily in major ensembles such as orchestra, band or chorus. Chamber ensembles and private instruction are available for string, brass, woodwind, percussion, piano, and voice. Ballet students concentrate on classes in classical ballet with some experience in modern dance. Visual Art students experience professional studio practices in activities which include computer art, painting, ceramics, drawing, jewelry, graphic design, computer graphics, printmaking, and sculpture. Theatre students explore all facets of the theatrical arts, including both performance and technical theatre. They participate in small group activities in acting, mime, voice improvement, oral interpretation, stage movement and stage combat, as well as in design and production activities in costuming, lighting, sound, and set construction.

The summer curriculum includes individual and group instruction designed to help each student explore and develop his or her talents in music, ballet, theatre, and art. About four hours a day, six days a week are spent working in the major area of concentration. Each student is assigned to a major art area to pursue intermediate and advanced study in either art, ballet, theatre, or music. Private and group instruction taught by professionals well known in their fields is a part of this segment. Students are involved to the extent of their artistic capacity, but music, art, theatre, and ballet are not all they study. Each student is also exposed to other art fields through interdisciplinary studies, guest lecturers, exhibits, and films.


The Governor's Schools of Tennessee* share values with other Governor's Schools** in the following ways:

  1. We provide high level, capstone, intellectual and/or artistic learning experiences for the intellectually and/or artistically talented students.
  2. We provide individual contact and relationships with outstanding mentors and role models.
  3. We provide an opportunity for membership in a community of learners where isolation can be mitigated and friendships and networks begun.
  4. We provide opportunities to take on leadership roles, to take contributions back to communities, to home schools, to state, and to the future of our nation. We value civic responsibility, believe both leadership and responsible "followership" can be learned.
  5. We provide opportunities for group problem solving, critical thinking, values, ethics study, and creativity.
  6. We select a "special place", resources, facilities for these opportunities for advanced study.
  7. We value time and resources spent on opportunities for a student to engage in personal reflection, focus on personal and social development and the opportunity to begin to develop a personal voice.
  8. We value pluralism in the selection process, the school should reflect the state in:
    1. socio economic make-up
    2. geographic diversity
    3. ethnicity, race, and gender
  9. We value education that builds a community of authentic dialogues and exchanges between staff and participants. Our staff members demonstrate a conviction of caring and replace role relationships with a commitment to mutual respect.

* The Governor's Schools of Tennessee consist of:

  • The Governor's School for the Arts
  • The Governor's School for the Humanities
  • The Governor's School for International Studies
  • The Governor's School for the Sciences
  • The Governor's School for Tennessee Heritage
  • The Governor's School for Prospective Teachers
  • The Governor's School for Manufacturing
  • The Governor's School for Agricultural Sciences
  • The Governor's School for IT Leadership

The Arts Education Program of the State Department of Education oversees the curricula offerings and standards in visual art, filmmaking, music, theatre, and dance. Curriculum Frameworks are published for Tennessee Schools and include appropriate goals for these disciplines. While the School for the Arts cannot fully address the goals it, nevertheless, supports the State Department of Education's quest for comprehensive and sequenced curricula. We are appreciative to the Director of Arts Education for making available the following materials as approved by the Tennessee State Board of Education.


Visual Art in Tennessee's schools should seek to:

  1. Provide an understanding of the ways mankind has expressed ideas and recorded experiences through the medium of visual art.
  2. Provide a means of communicating ideas, feelings and beliefs.
  3. Promote human understanding, achievement and self-development through the study of visual art.
  4. Equip students to be knowledgeable of the influence of visual art in daily life.
  5. Facilitate the development of technical skills in the production of a work of art.
  6. Acquaint students with career opportunities in visual art.
  7. Facilitate the development of aesthetic awareness of natural and man-made environments.
  8. Equip students to analyze, criticize, interpret, and evaluate the components of a work of art.
  9. Encourage quality craftsmanship.


The primary aims of music education in Tennessee are to enhance the individual's potential to understand music as an artistic phenomenon, to encourage the use of music as an expressive agent, and to teach the value of music as a significant aesthetic experience.

To accomplish this, music education should:

  1. Enable the student to identify and understand the elements of music.
  2. Provide opportunities for the student to improvise and create music.
  3. Develop the student's ability to make music alone and with others.
  4. Give the student opportunities to respond to music aesthetically, intellectually, and emotionally.
  5. Acquaint the student with diverse styles of music.
  6. Inform the student of the role of music in society.
  7. Enable the student to make judgments based on critical analysis.
  8. Help the student discover enjoyment through musical expression.


The Theatre Arts discipline embodies four fundamental goals and component knowledge, processes, and skills which this Tennessee framework terms strands. The goals are to enable the learner to:

  1. Develop means of expression for the individual through the use of drama/theatre experiences
    1. Sensory perception
    2. Emotional expression
    3. Imagination
    4. Movement
    5. Language
    6. Voice
    7. Artistic discipline
    8. Concentration
    9. Self-concept
  2. Create drama/theatre through individual effort, group interaction, and artistic collaboration
    1. Ensemble and interpersonal skills
    2. Problem solving
    3. Improvisation
    4. Acting
    5. Directing
    6. Playmaking and Playwriting
    7. Technical elements
    8. Theatre management
  3. Experience drama/theatre in its multicultural, social, and historical contexts
    1. Dramatic literature
    2. Theatre history and heritage
    3. Drama/Theatre in a multicultural society
    4. Roles and careers
  4. Form aesthetic judgments of drama/theatre experiences
    1. Elements of drama
    2. Audience
    3. Theatre and other arts
    4. Aesthetic response


"The arts - visual arts, theatre, music and dance - challenge and extend human experience." * Dance is a means of self-awareness and a fundamental form of communication as well as a performance art. Students of an age and readiness for the Governor's School for the Arts are exposed to an intensive multifaceted program within a community of interdisciplinary arts professionals and aspirants - a stimulating environment which facilitates learning.

In addition to the technical benefits of an intensive dance program, the Governor's School experience is intended to:

  1. Engage the imagination
  2. Encourage intellectual curiosity and creative thinking
  3. Improve self-discipline
  4. Enhance decision making particularly with regard to career choices

Governor's School students learn that dance is inherent to our heritage and world and that of others around us. Students are encouraged to perceive, evaluate and understand dance as a conveyer of culture. The program strives to integrate and enrich the balanced development of the whole person.

* Academic Preparation for College. New York: The College Board, 1983