James Brinkmann's musical journey started at age 12 when he heard a flutist playing a solo. He loved the ringing tone quality and told his mom, "I have to play that instrument!"
Now, as the Innovative Flutist (IF), he asks the question “what if...?” when searching for ways to use music to interact with and inspire people to be creative and find connection with music.
An avid chamber musician, he is a co-founder of Silverwood Ensemble and the interactive-storytelling ensemble, Floboe Productions Studio.
An enthusiastic teacher, James was the woodwind department chair and on flute faculty at the Merit School of Music in Chicago where he also presented his “Interactive Rhythm Flash Card” workshop. He has published a method book, “The Scale Page,” for advancing beginner and intermediate flutists. He explored the beginner flutist’s perspective and how to be a more compassionate teacher in his Youtube series, “Left Hand Flute Project.” He published an article about this project in the May/June 2018 issue of Flute Talk Magazine.
As an orchestral player, he has held the positions of 2nd flute in the Northbrook Symphony, principal flute in the Lakeview Orchestra, and has played with the New World Symphony. With the LO, he was a featured soloist on Carl Reinecke’s Concerto in D Major and J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No.5. He placed 2nd and 3rd in the National Flute Association Orchestral Excerpts Competition and is a two-time 3rd prize winner in the Donald Peck International Flute Competition.
He is currently a teaching assistant working on his Master’s in Music with Richard Sherman at Michigan State University. He received his Bachelor of Music summa cum laude at DePaul University, and his other primary teachers are Lisa Byrnes, Mary Stolper, and Christina Smith.
James takes his flute almost everywhere with him and breaks down performer-audience barriers by performing in unique settings. He has played on commercial airline flights, in airports, on the streets, practiced in the park on a regular basis, and has started sing alongs on long-distance trains. All these impromptu performances often lead to joyful and inspiring conversations with the local residents and passersby.
As a teaching artist and clinician, he unites his passions for teaching and performing by creating interactive performances to strengthen audience's connection with music. From playing in concert halls to jamming in the subways, he has performed for and collaborated with various organizations and communities throughout the United States, such as the University of Utah, Atlanta Flute Club, Lakeview Orchestra, and Pan Harmonia, re-energizing audiences’ engagement and creativity. He also presented his interactive concepts at the 2018 and 2019 National Flute Conventions.
He presented his TEDx Talk Collaborative Listening at Tedx DePaul University. An explorer of community art projects, he created artwork with people in Chicago subway stations and tours with his hybrid arts collection, ‘L’-Evating Art. His spontaneous performances in the subway and ideas about audience engagement were featured on the front page of the Chicago Tribune Arts and Entertainment section in August 2018.
Junior Recital (L-R): Grandmother, Mom, James Brinkmann, Mary Stolper, Lisa Byrnes