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. 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.
What you will find in this blog post:
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. 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 may be experiencing anxiety or depression. Here, you can see Samson speak about why music therapy is so vital in the lives of children.
In “Ageless: Songs for the Child Archetype” Samson wrote songs about the issues "we" face through the voice of "our" inner child. By writing these songs, Samson is providing children both with honesty and a challenge to engage with subjects they are not necessarily asked to engage with. That level of transparency makes a difference in how children process and examine their own emotions. By extension, this is likely to help 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 an understandings of one another, 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.
Samson emphasizes the inner child and how engaging with the playful inner child makes us better, 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. 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. It also helps them feel comfortable sharing these feelings with the people around them.
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. 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. 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.
Edited by Cara Jernigan on January 19, 2021