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Who is Innovative Flutist?


Dr. James Brinkmann (he/him) unites teaching, performing, and researching to create interactive performances that strengthen the listener’s connection with music. From playing in concert halls to jamming in the subways, he has performed and collaborated with communities around the country, including the University of Utah, Atlanta Flute Club, Broad Museum Art Lab (MI), and Pan Harmonia (NC). He has presented lecture-recitals and research papers at National Flute Conventions, College Music Society conferences, the Society for American Music, and presented “Collaborative Listening” at TEDx DePaul University. In 2018, the Chicago Tribune featured his spontaneous performances in the Chicago subway stations and ideas about audience engagement. A recipient of Michigan State University's Dissertation Completion Fellowship, he completed his D.M.A. in 2022 with his final document and lecture-recital, “Articulating Musical Connection: Examining Listeners’ Creativity and Musical Experiences Through Visual Representations.”

James also leads a diverse career as a teacher, researcher, and chamber and orchestral musician. With curiosity and enthusiasm for teaching and learning, he has taught flutists from beginners to professionals. He has presented workshops to communities including the National Flute Association and Southeast Michigan Flute Association. As a graduate flute assistant at MSU for four years, James taught flute methods and private lessons to undergraduate and graduate flute majors, non-majors, and jazz woodwind doublers. Prior to graduate school, he served on the flute faculty and as the woodwind department chair at the Merit School of Music in Chicago and was assistant faculty at the Northern California Flute Camp. As a pedagogue, he writes about intentional practice and has articles published in Flute Talk, The Flute View, and Pipeline. 

An advocate for interdisciplinary collaboration, he is a third year Senior Graduate Fellow in the Residential College of Arts and Humanities, where he served as the interim co-director in Fall 2021. Along with Dr. Liza Calisesi-Maidens and Dr. Erika J. Knapp, he researches undergraduate teaching and learning with a focus on music students’ sense of belonging. They presented their findings at the College Music Society Great Lakes Conference and will present at the 2022 CMS National Conference and 2022 International Society for Music Education World Conference.

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A versatile chamber and orchestral performer, James co-founded Floboe Productions with oboist Alli Gessner and the Silverwood Ensemble with cellist Sarah Hansen. Floboe Productions will present a workshop on interdisciplinary audience engagement at the 2022 International Double Reed Society Conference. While living in Chicago, James was a flutist with the Chi Flutes Quartet, CHAI Collaborative Ensemble, and Second City Wind Quintet. He was second flute in the Northbrook Symphony, principal flute in the Lakeview Orchestra where he was a concerto soloist, and has subbed with the New World Symphony. His competitive achievements include prizes in the 2012 and 2013 National Flute Association Orchestral Excerpts Competition and the 2017 and 2019 Donald Peck International Flute Competition.

James completed his D.M.A., M.M., and Graduate Certificate in Music Career Development at Michigan State University. He received his B.M. from DePaul University. His primary teachers include Richard Sherman, Mary Stolper, Lisa Byrnes, and Christina Smith.

He brings his flute almost everywhere and breaks down performer-audience barriers by performing in unique settings like commercial airline flights, on the streets, and in parks. This often leads to joyful and inspiring conversations with the local residents and passersby.


He resides in East Lansing, MI and loves exploring nature, painting, traveling, and playing chess and other board games.

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