Dr. Brinkmann intuitively understands how to coax and encourage my son's own interest and enjoyment with music while at the same time keeping him focussed and disciplined on technique. Dr. Brinkmann is a talented teacher, and we are very happy that we found him.
David A.
James Brinkmann smiling and holding his flute, wearing a purple shirt

Dr. James Brinkmann (he/him) fosters people’s curiosity, creativity, and sense of belonging within Western classical music and other music communities. He unites performance, teaching, and research to create interactive music events that encourage listeners to be aware of their reactions to music and share them in fun and meaningful ways. 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, Lakeview Orchestra (IL), and the Broad Museum Art Lab (MI). 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 versatile orchestral and chamber musician, James played Principal Flute on the 2023 national orchestra tour of the Netflix Our Planet Live in Concert (USA) and the premiere run of the musical The Principle Wife (UT). He previously held the positions of Principal Flute in the Lakeview Orchestra (IL) where he was a three-time concerto soloist, Second Flute in the Northbrook Symphony (IL), and has subbed with the New World Symphony (FL) and Jackson Symphony Orchestra (MI). He co-founded the hybrid-arts ensemble Floboe Productions with oboist Alli Gessner, which presented 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 also won prizes in the 2012 and 2013 National Flute Association Orchestral Excerpts Competition and the 2017 and 2019 Donald Peck International Flute Competition.

James seeks to understand the diverse and nuanced ways that people interact with music and music communities. He creates long-term research projects that are inclusive, collaborative, and engaging spaces for people to connect with music, creativity, and other people. 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.” Inspired by his research on listener, in 2023, he premiered sixteen pieces from his international project, What If… Call for Scores and presented the concept in a recital at the National Flute Convention and College Music Society Southern Conference. The call invited composers of any age, expertise, and nationality to write flute repertoire (beginner, intermediate, professional) based on the prompt “What if the flute represented a character other than a bird?” Composers of thirty nationalities submitted 128 flute works. Judges included two professional flutists, an adult amateur flutist, and a non-performing music listener.

With an enthusiasm and curiosity for practical teaching methods and the learning process, James is the Adjunct Lecturer of Flute at the University of Texas at Tyler and a Flute Instructor at McKinney ISD in the Dallas area. Before moving to Texas, he taught undergraduate flute methods and flute lessons at Michigan State University for four years and served on the flute faculty and as the Woodwind Department Chair at the Merit School of Music in Chicago. A widely sought-after presenter and guest clinician, James has shared his scholarship and pedagogy at international and national venues. He focuses on empowering educators, performers, and students to develop their skills, pedagogy, a healthy relationship with the flute, and creative means of musical expression. He has presented for multiple National Flute Association conferences and online events, the University of Utah, and the New Jersey Flute Fair among others.

An advocate for student belonging and interdisciplinary collaboration, James served as a Graduate Fellow in the MSU’s Residential College of Arts and Humanities for three years, where he also served as the Interim Co-Director in Fall 2021. Along with Dr. Liza Calisesi-Maidens and Dr. Erika J. Knapp, he researched undergraduate music students’ sense of belonging. They presented their findings at the International Society for Music Education World Conference, the College Music Society National Conference, and CMS Great Lakes Conference.

James earned his DMA and MM degrees at Michigan State University, where he also completed a Graduate Certificate in Music Career Development. He holds a BM from DePaul University. His primary flute 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 McKinney, TX and loves exploring nature, painting, traveling, and playing chess and other board games.