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Bakersfield College

Umoja Students Learn the Healing Power of Music

Dr Terence Elliott, music faculty at Diablo Valley College, shares with Umoja students how music can be used to heal.

Dr. Terence Elliot, a professor of music at Diablo Valley College, taught our students in the Umoja Community how the simple vibration of humming as we exhale results in healing. During the meeting on Zoom, Dr. Elliot explained how music, breathing and meditation can release negative energy.

The Umoja Community is a program designed for African-American students and coordinated by English professor Dr. Paula L. Parks. The students have been connecting through Zoom weekly to maintain community through sharing. Many of the students are juggling family responsibilities while trying to stay motivated to finish their classes despite challenges with technology and feelings of isolation.

Music is a way to encourage by tapping into creativity, explained Dr. Elliott, author of "Spirit, Rhythm, and Story: Community Building and Healing Through Song". Dr. Elliot kept the beat on a djembe drum as taught students a Yoruba chant that means "we come here in peace". The students sang in response "ashe’ ashe’" which means "amen amen."

Sharing African music and rhythm in community with others is healing. “We have to connect with our humanity,” explained Dr. Elliott, who is also the founder of the African American Male Leadership Program at Diablo Valley College. He advised students to take out their earbuds and create their own music and beats.

“You don’t have to have any special training," Dr. Elliot said. "We’re all artists. We’re all musicians.”

Kern Community College District