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I am excited to use my research on listeners’ connection with music to start the ‘What IF…’ Call for Scores. As founder of Innovative Flutist (IF), the question ‘what if I did…?’ sparks my work on curiosity and connecting with people and music. For this call, I am working to connect composers, performers, and listeners. I provide a “what if…” prompt based on my listener research to invite composers to write for flute repertoire of three skill levels. 

Thank you for considering. I look forward to listening to and playing your music. Happy Creating!

James Brinkmann (he/him)

Premiere Recital
June 7, 2023, 6 PM EST
Cook Recital Hall, Michigan State University


Thank you to composers from all over the world who submitted to this call and entered into this collaborative process between composers, listeners, and flutists. I am grateful that you shared your voice with us, and your creative uses of the flute to represent a range of characters and ideas inspire me.


There were 128 submissions from composers of 30 nationalities living in 26 countries!

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  • No entry fee

  • Open to all composers

  • Performance, recordings, and monetary prizes

  • Unaccompanied flute OR flute & piano


Special thanks to Michigan State University's Running Start Program

for a project grant to support these prizes.

Professional Flute Repertoire Winner:                                        $200, premiere, recording of live performance

Intermediate Flute Repertoire Winner:                                         $75, premiere, recording of live performance

Beginner Flute Repertoire Winner:                                               $75, premiere, recording of live performance

Among All Submissions:

            Adult Flute Enthusiast Judge’s Choice:                            $25

            Music Listener Judge’s Choice:                                        $25

            At least 10 selected                                                          Premiere, recording of live performance


In 2021, I conducted research how listeners connected with flute music and represented it through writing and drawing. Unsurprisingly, many people associated the flute with birds; however, the flute has potential for different characters. This year’s prompt is:


What if the flute represented a character other than a bird?


Please note:

  1. Composers may submit one piece per category.

  2. Flutists of all ages play beginner and intermediate music.

  3. Extended techniques are not required and have no advantage or disadvantage. If using, consider the time needed to switch between extended techniques and regular playing. Please contact me if you have questions about using any techniques in a category. Refer to:

Beginner Flute Music

Solo flute OR flute & piano

Length: 1 - 2 minutes

Range: F4 to C6

Key Signatures: Major (G, C, F, Bb)

                          Minor (g)

Time Signatures: 2/4, 3/4, 4/4

Extended Techniques: None

Intermediate Flute Music

Solo flute OR flute & piano

Length: 3 -  4 minutes

Range: D4 to F6

Key Signatures: Up to 3 sharps or 3 flats

Time Signatures: 2/4, 3/4, 4/4, 3/8,


Extended Techniques: key clicks, tongue pizzicato (slap)

Professional Flute Music

Solo flute OR flute & piano

Length: 4 - 7 minutes

Range: B3 to B6

Key Signatures: Any

Time Signatures: Any

Extended Techniques: air sounds, flutter tonguing, harmonics, harmonic gliss, jet whistle, singing and playing, timbral trill, tongue ram, tongue pizzicato (slap)

Selection Committee

The relationship between a composer, performer, and listener is beautiful, complex, and vital. As an advocate for valuing and including performers of all levels and music listeners, I invite people of different experiences to be on the committee. The committee members who play flute will likely sightread the pieces.

2022-2023 Committee

  • Elise Blatchford        Associate Professor of Flute, University of Memphis Scheidt School of Music, TN

  • Gerardo Lopez         Adult Flute Enthusiast, Ph.D. Student in Music Theory, Ohio State University, OH

  • Ramona Fantini        Music Listener, Business Consultant, SC

  • James Brinkmann    Founder of Innovative Flutist, D.M.A. in Flute Performance, MI

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Elise Blatchford - Professional Flutist


Praised by the Cleveland Plain Dealer for her “superb command of color and nuance,” Elise Blatchford is the Associate Professor of Flute at the University of Memphis School of Music in Tennessee. As a founding member of The City of Tomorrow, Ms. Blatchford won first prize at the 2011 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. She holds degrees in flute performance from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the San Francisco Conservatory. 

What excites you about this call for scores?

I love ANY call for scores! It's a great way for performers and composers to develop a relationship when they otherwise might not have met. Looking at new music for my instrument always sparks my own creativity. It drives us all to keep asking questions about how music is made now, and what styles could be coming around the corner.


What if the flute represented something other than a bird?" 

I love this question. The flute no longer sits in a delicate box. In fact, most flute players are the toughest people I know! We run marathons, we make political protests, we start businesses. The flute is strong, it can be so aggressive, and I see the facilitation of this strength in our playing through the great flute making that has been happening in the last 20-30 years! The character of our instrument, in the eyes of composers and also in audiences, continues to evolve.

Gerry Lopez - Adult Flute Enthusiast

Gerardo (Gerry) Lopez (he/him/his) is a PhD student in Music Theory at The Ohio State University (OSU). He earned an MM in Music Theory from Michigan State University, where he briefly studied flute with James Brinkmann. He also earned a BM and a MM in Flute Performance from the University of Redlands, having studied with Sara Andon. Aside from his academic interests, and when time permits, he enjoys going on long road trips across the country.


What excites you about this call for scores?

What excites me the most about this call for score is the chance to be surprised with the different directions and ideas creators end up exploring. For me one of the joys of new music is to be taken by surprise, walking into a performance space with almost no expectations about what's about to happen and just experiencing the works in the moment.


What do you imagine when listening to/playing the flute? 

There are two answers to this question. The technical side of me that thinks about breath support, tone production, body placement, and so on. Sometimes I even imagine what a performer might look like on stage, reimagining passages with different body motions or gestures and thinking about how it impacts the music. The other side of me experiences the flute as moods and narrative, just either letting myself experience the moment or focusing on some abstract story.


Ramona Fantini - Music Listener

Ramona Fantini is a Business Consultant that draws on her previous careers as a small business owner and corporate executive to assist her clients. The circuitous route from the pharmaceutical arena to technology to a successful Gelato business gave her an appreciation for the importance of accepting all that life throws at you. Along with her obsession with downhill and cross-country skiing, Ramona is dedicated to several animal rescues and empowering future women leaders.

What excites you about this call for scores?

I am fascinated with the way music affects us and this includes all aspects - listening, composing, playing, background and therapeutics. Music is a modality that has enormous potential and I love ways to stretch the norms.

What do you imagine when listening to the flute? Does it depend on the music? Has it changed over time?

My personal experience is that it depends on it all – the music, the setting, my awareness or not, my memories, my frame of mind, the surroundings. Just like one can not react the same way in the same situation every time, you cannot have the same experience with one instrument the same way every time. For me, it has changed over time, but the time factor is that I have made a conscious effort to slow down, to listen, to be aware, to cherish and appreciate.

James Brinkmann - Creator of "What IF..." Call for Scores

James Brinkmann, DMA, uses his teaching, performance, and research to create interactive concerts to support listeners’ connection with music. From playing in concert halls to jamming in the subways, he has given interactive concerts for communities across the United States and has presented at National Flute Conventions, College Music Society conferences, and TEDx DePaul University among others. As an educator, he was a flute teaching assistant at Michigan State University. Prior, he served as flute faculty and woodwind department chair at Merit School of Music in Chicago.

What excites you about this call for scores?

I was inspired to connect with composers and use my ethnographic research to design an opportunity that expands how people experience the flute in multiple stages of the music (writing, performing, listening). After seeing how listeners responded to flute music from different time periods and styles, I am excited to see how composers explore the flute's potential and hope sharing their music will build connection between the flute community, composers, and listeners.

What do you imagine when listening to the flute?

As a kid, I was captivated by the ringing quality of the flute. When I was 12, I told my mom after hearing an amateur flutist, "I have to play that instrument." I often close my eyes at concerts to imagine different colors, though I do not have synesthesia. The flute has a wide range of potential for colors, characters, and expression, and I love to hear how composers use it in creative ways.

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