SKYCTC Academic Advisor Dr. John Thomerson travels to Zimbabwe to play and learn music | SKYCTC

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SKYCTC Academic Advisor Dr. John Thomerson travels to Zimbabwe to play and learn music

John thomerson standing holding an instrament with others whatching

Bowling Green, Ky. – In an inspiring blend of cultural exchange and musical passion, John Thomerson, Ph.D., an academic advisor and music instructor from Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College (SKYCTC), embarked on a remarkable journey to Zimbabwe. His mission: to immerse himself in the rich musical traditions of the region, both playing and learning from local musicians. This adventure highlights the power of music to bridge cultures and create lasting connections across the globe.

Thomerson has mastered over 15 instruments over the course of his career, including the guitar, bass, sitar, and mbira. He is also learning the ilimba, a Tanzanian instrument. Thomerson recently returned from nearly three weeks in Zimbabwe, where he studied and performed Shona mbira music. He spent several days near Harare, the capital city, and the remaining time in the rural area of Mondoro.

"This was a great opportunity to learn from several different teachers and to immerse myself in Shona culture," Dr. Thomerson said. “I was able to learn several new mbira songs and to sing, play hosho, and dance with musicians from around the world. I also spent time with a spirit medium who shared rich insights into Shona spirituality, astronomy, and humor as well as Zimbabwean politics, gender relations, and the impact of colonialism. I’m looking forward to bringing these insights into my music classes next semester!”

This trip is part of his ongoing project to learn more about and research Zimbabwean music, which he plans to write about in an upcoming book.

“One interesting event was the mbira party we had on our last day in Zimbabwe, when musicians and mbira makers from across the country gathered to sing, play, and dance," Thomerson stated. "Because travel is difficult in Zimbabwe, it’s rare to get this many people together all at once.”

Another highlight of the trip was captured in a photo named “Thomerson with Sinyoro,” where he got to play with the gwenyambira, or master mbira musician, “Sinyoro” Caution Shonhai. “We’re playing our mbiras in dezes, which are large amplifiers. His recordings were my inspiration for learning mbira, so being able to live and play with him for a week was a real treat! Every night, he and gwenyambira ‘Samaita’ Vitalis Botsa, two of the greatest Zimbabwean musicians, would play for us as we sat around a fire and gazed at the oceans of stars visible in the dark skies of southern Africa. It was a real treat!”

To learn more about this wonderful music you can contact Dr. Thomerson at or check out the recordings and information available on