Senior Lecturer in the Teaching of Music
Emelyne Bingham is a full-time faculty member at the Blair School of Music, where she has taught courses in conducting, music theory, musicianship, and music education since 1986. She is also a conductor and double bassist whose work has spanned from teaching K-12 music in Metro-Nashville Public Schools to conducting the New York City Ballet Orchestra, serving as the assistant conductor of the Nashville Symphony under the late Kenneth Schermerhorn and playing bass for performing artists such as Amy Grant and Bernadette Peters. Although music was her first love, she has been fascinated her entire life with non-verbal communication, especially with regard to phonomimesis (a gesture for every sound and a sound for every gesture). Phonomimesis is essential to the art of conducting, not only in terms of communicating basic musical concepts such as tempo, articulation, and dynamics, but more importantly with regard to showing nuances that evoke musical meaning and human emotion. As a result, she has been drawn to the work of Emile Jaques-Dalcroze, an early 20th century Swiss music educator who codified basic elements of musical expression and developed a system to teach these concepts through movement and games. His methods can be easily adapted for use in training at all levels, from beginners to seasoned professionals, and are currently in use from small town elementary schools to the world’s finest conservatories, including the Juilliard School. As a 49-year-old woman with Asperger’s Syndrome, she has also been a life-long student of nonverbal communication and its seemingly mysterious influence on basic human interaction. Her fascination with this topic led her to study the work of Francois Delsarte, a 19th century French actor and musician who, like Jaques-Dalcroze, codified similar concepts for teaching actors. His methods were taught in this country at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York and helped produce many fine actors and dancers including Isadora Duncan, Charlie Chaplain, Katherine Hepburn, and Agnes Moorehead, to name just a few. She strongly believes that the study and use of Dalcroze and Delsarte have the potential to significantly impact communication skills, perception, emotion, and brain plasticity in all people, but especially in those with cognitive and social difficulties. These two primary foci, combined with her unique experiences of social blindness caused by Asperger’s Syndrome, now drive her passion and her work. As she approaches the midpoint of her career, she finds herself less interested in art simply for art’s sake. Without a goal to provide a better quality of life for all citizens and especially for those children who face fierce challenges, she finds music much less rewarding. Although she still maintains an active conducting career, her work during the past two years has included training teachers how to teach kinesthetically via the Dalcroze method as well as being an advocate for the autism community through public speaking engagements. Her next step is to bring her knowledge of these unique methodologies, combined with her insight and experience as a person with autism, to the service of other researchers who might find her expertise useful.