Flashes of Inspiration: Professors Keep the Beat While Keeping Their Distance

Flashes of Inspiration today offers the world premiere of the first ever music video by a new group, The Skoolies, who are performing their first recording, “TOHA.”

The Skoolies are four Kent State University professors: Phillip Hamrick, associate professor in the Department of English, singing lead vocals; John Dunlosky, professor and director of the Science of Learning and Education Center (SOLE) in the Department of Psychological Sciences, on guitar; Christopher Was, associate professor in Psychological Sciences, on vocal, guitar and banjo; and John Gunstad, professor in the Psychological Sciences and associate director of the Brain Health Research Institute, on drums.

Dunlosky said the four are just beginning as a band and are hoping to perform some public gigs once the pandemic is over. This first music video was an exercise in socially distanced recording, as was the song’s creation, he said. 


The song name, which stands for “They Only Have Arms,” was initiated by Was and Hamrick, but all four took part in writing parts for it while social distancing.

“We all just love this song, so that’s why we chose to perform it,” Dunlosky said, noting its “toe-tappy” beat.

Was, Gunstad and Dunlosky are part of a band made up of psychology professors called Diminished Faculties, which is still together. Diminished Faculties, however, is a cover band, while The Skoolies perform original songs.

The four met up when Hamrick was helping with sound for a performance of Diminished Faculties, and he and Dunlosky began talking about writing original music and how they wished they had an outlet to perform their own music, not covers of other groups’ songs. The discussion continued later with Was, Gunstad was invited to join, and the band formed earlier this year, he said.

The group was able to get in two rehearsals before the pandemic forced them to shelter at home.

“Not an ideal situation for a nascent band, but we’ve been having virtual sectionals each week to develop songs and some of us are finding more time to play, so we are slowly making our way,” Dunlosky said.

Flashes of Inspiration is an ongoing series of videos showcasing the talents of Kent State faculty and staff aimed at providing an uplifting respite from the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic.

POSTED: Sunday, May 17, 2020 - 5:23pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, May 26, 2020 - 11:34am
Lisa Abraham