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Melissa Brunkan

Associate Professor of Music Education (Choral), Head of Music Education
Phone: 541-346-3769
Office:  125 Frohnmayer Music Building
Research Interests: Vocal Performance and Choral Studies, Conducting, Music Scholarly Areas, Music Education

Melissa C. Brunkan joined the music education faculty at the University of Oregon in 2017. She holds degrees from the University of Minnesota, Northwestern University, and The University of Kansas and most recently taught at Louisiana State University as assistant professor of vocal music education. Prior to her work at the university level, she taught in public and private schools in the Minneapolis/St, Paul, Milwaukee, and Chicago areas for twelve years, teaching students from pre-K through adult with an emphasis on secondary choral/vocal music. Other experience includes private voice teaching as well as conducting, musical theater directing, post-surgical vocal pedagogy consultation, and workshop facilitation.

Dr. Brunkan has sung and conducted professionally with choirs, opera and theater companies and churches throughout the United States. Vocal performance has taken her to places such as Denver, CO, New York, NY and Chicago, IL. In recent years, she founded a community choir for adults with intellectual disabilities, a community children’s choir for underserved populations, and an online choir for caregivers of children with chronic illness. Her choirs have sung with artists and conductors from places such as China, Venezuela, and Indonesia, performing in various venues from the Minnesota State Capitol to the Kennedy Center.

Her primary research interests include the use of gesture in choral/vocal pedagogy, lifespan voice pedagogy, singers with medical conditions affecting the voice, conductor gesture and behaviors, and the adolescent voice. She has presented research at regional, national, and international venues in such places as Philadelphia, Tucson, Newfoundland, and Greece. Brunkan has published articles in various journals including Journal of Research in Music Education, International Journal of Research in Choral Singing, and The International Journal of Music Education: Research.  She has held leadership roles in professional organizations such as the American Choral Directors’ Association, serves on the Board of Directors for the VoiceCare Network, and has served as guest reviewer and editorial assistant for IJME: Research.

  • PhD 2012, Music Education, The University of Kansas - Lawrence
  • MMus 1999, Voice and Opera, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois
  • BMus 1995, Music Education, University of Minnesota - Minneapolis


Brunkan, M. C. (2016).  Relationships of a circular singer arm gesture to acoustical and perceptual measures of singing: A motion capture study. Update: Applications of Research in Music Education, 34(3), 56 – 62. DOI: 10.1177/8755123314567782.

Johnson, C. M., Williams, L. R., Parisi, J., & Brunkan, M. C. (2016).  Behavioral characteristics and instructional patterns of expert teaching, and the transfer those behaviors into a musical setting: Two case studies. International Journal of Research in Music Education: Research, (34)3, 299 – 310. DOI: 10.1177/0255761415619060.

Brunkan, M. C. (2015).  The effects of singer gestures on acoustic and perceptual measures of solo singing. International Journal of Music and Performing Arts, 3(1), 35 – 45.

Brunkan, M. C. (2014).  Bob and the Bobolinks: Singing to brand a candidate in the 1960 senatorial campaign of Bob Dole. Popular Music and Society, 37, 557–582.

Brunkan, M. C. (2013). The effects of watching three types of conductor gestures and performing varied gestures along with the conductor on measures of singers' intonation and tone quality: A pilot study. International Journal of Research in Choral Singing, 4(2), 37–51.

Daugherty, J. F., & Brunkan, M. C. (2013).  Monkey See, monkey do? The effect of nonverbal conductor lip rounding on visual and acoustic measures of singers’ lip postures.  Journal of Research in Music Education, 60, 345 – 362.

Daugherty, J. F., Manternach, J. N., & Brunkan, M. C. (2013). Acoustic and perceptual measures of SATB choir performances on two types of portable choral riser units in three singer spacing conditions. International Journal of Music Education: Research, 31, 346–358.

Brunkan, M.C. (2013). Children’s and instructor’s perceptions of using VoceVista in a voice exploration session focusing on gentle onset of phonation and articulation of consonants. Proceedings of the Phenomenon of Singing VII International Symposium, St. John’s, Newfoundland, 1 – 14.

Daugherty, J. F., & Brunkan, M. C. (2013). The effect of conductor lip rounding on individual singers’ lip postures during sung Latin [u] vowels: Preliminary findings. Proceedings of the Phenomenon of Singing VII International Symposium, St. John’s, Newfoundland, 50 – 58.

Madsen, C. K., Johnson, C. M., Geringer, J. M., Southall, J., & Brunkan, M. C. (2012).  Effects of a brief distraction on perceptions of attention, aesthetic response, and flow during music listening.  Proceedings of the Twenty-fourth International Seminar on Research in Music Education, Thessaloniki, Greece, 140 – 147.