Department: Performing Arts
Office Number: MU1-118
Phone number: (623) 845-3720
Dr. James W. Thomas’ mission is to bring the arts, technology, and learning together. As a guitarist, bassist, producer/engineer, sound designer, professor, learning designer, occasional visual artist, and general menace to all things electrical, Jim has enjoyed a career both in the music industry and in academia. He’s either performed or shared a stage with an eclectic group of musicians ranging from Jazz great Sarah Vaughn to Metal icons Testament, to pioneering performance artist Rachael Rosenthal. Jim released three albums in Southern California, receiving respectable airplay for an independent artist. He’s helped many vocalists find their voice as a producer, collaborated with major audio equipment companies to perfect their products, and worked as a bandleader in top Southern California hotels and casinos.
Jim’s doctoral work combined his passion for the arts with his devotion to science in a pursuit to improve music education through technology. His dissertation explored the use of games to teach rhythm using novel hardware controllers. During this time, he also contributed to work on installation art that included bringing interactive sound and movement of mechanical devices to spaces that react to human presence.
In the academic world, Jim has been a prolific author of higher education courses. While teaching at ASU, he designed and taught 11 new courses, including several online music production and digital media courses. At Cal State East Bay, he won grants to reauthor three online graduate courses, all of which have received Quality Matters certification. He also won a grant to research student preferences and success in online courses. Jim is a Quality Matters Master Reviewer. Jim currently divides his time between teaching music industry studies at Glendale Community College (Arizona) and graduate online instructional design at Cal State East Bay, in addition to freelance work.
Jim holds degrees from Arizona State University, California State University East Bay, and California State University San Marcos. Jim’s academic career proudly began in the California Community College system, which allowed him the flexibility to work while completing his lower-division courses.