Jon Samson is Creating Music that Helps Kids Talk About Their Inner Struggles
The world of children’s music is usually filled with sweet but surface-level songs. Not many children’s songs today tackle the serious issues that kids may be experiencing and are struggling to talk about and work through. Music is a resource that offers a constructive release for so many, children deserve the opportunity to engage with music made for them and about the serious situations they may be facing. Jon Samson, a board-certified music therapist, made the album “Ageless: Songs for the Child Archetype” (which won a Grammy for best children’s album in 2020) in an effort to help children recognize and express these emotions and heal.
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Jon Samson, a board-certified music therapist, was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. Samson studied music composition at SUNY Purchase, later going on to NYU to study music therapy. Beginning as a composer and artist Samson ended up working to encourage that artistic motivation in others. Having experienced the healing nature of music himself Samson wanted to find ways to spread that artistic possibility to the people around him. Becoming a music therapist allowed Samson to share this curative power of music with his patients. Especially for children, who often struggle to convey or make sense of difficult times they may be going through, music therapy is an incredible resource. In an effort to reach out to those in need of this musical treatment Samson maintains a thriving music therapy practice in Brooklyn. There he specializes in music therapy for children on the autism spectrum as well as those who are not but may be experiencing anxiety or depression. You can see Samson speak about why music therapy is so vital in the lives of children.
Rather than simply writing songs for children, what Samson has done in “Ageless: Songs for the Child Archetype” is to write songs about issues that people of all ages face through the voice of the inner child each of us has. By writing these songs to be honest and less sugar-coated or filtered than other children’s music, Samson is providing children both with honesty and a challenge of sorts to engage with subjects they are not necessarily asked to engage with by teachers or parents a majority of the time. That level of transparency makes a difference in how children process and examine their own emotions. By extension, this is likely to help these children convey those emotions as well.
What Samson does so well is break down this barrier between child and adult. We may not be experiencing exactly the same things but if we are open to developing understandings of one another, then we can help each other make sense of the things that are going on within us and around us. When we form a gap between the experience of the child and of the adult then we cannot help children understand certain anxieties and stressful experiences that they encounter throughout life.
Samson emphasizes the inner child and how engaging with the playful inner child makes us the better for it, saying: “Like Penguins and Polar Bears, we all have our similarities and differences, but no matter what number our age, the Child within us always remains. When we are childlike we catalyze creativity, playfulness, joy, and enchantment for life. When we are childish, we become less than our best selves. This album is my contribution to exploring and embracing the human condition” - Jon Samson. Rather than focus on the condition of the child or of the adult, Samson is making music to heal us all through the broad-mindedness and receptive nature of our inner child.
If anyone is qualified to write an album of engaging and complex children’s music it would be a music therapist. As someone who is incredibly skilled in working with children, making music, and combining these things through music therapy, Jon Samson’s talents as a composer were incredibly well utilized in making his Grammy award-winning album “Ageless: Songs for the Child Archetype.” Samson approaches issues like anxiety and ADHD on this album, something not commonly seen in children’s albums. Because Samson has the tools as a music therapist to speak on these topics with honesty and reassurance, he creates an environment through this music that allows children to listen along and feel more comfortable in their own experiences and sharing them with the people around them in their lives.
Samson’s experiences both as a composer and a music therapist also give him the unique perspective of someone who has made music and also is able to recognize what specific musical characteristics help people in times of anxiety or depression. This collection of abilities makes it so that Samson is capable of interpreting the ways that he sees children engaging with music and then using that information to create music made with specific therapeutic purposes in mind.
Jon Samson’s album “Ageless: Songs for the Child Archetype” showcases a beautiful intersection between composition and music therapy. The Grammy that he boasts from it also shows how impactful this music has truly been in the lives of people who have encountered it. This no doubt means that children who listen to Samson’s music will be able to engage on some level with the therapeutic messages Samson has created in his songs.