Monday, January 17, 2011

If music is the fruit of life, here's food for thought - our parents are the only doctors we need - Jon Samson

Jon Samson of CoCreative Music is a friend of mine that I admire.  He is a fellow kindie artist as well as a music therapist. He is witty, creative and very enthusiastic about his job; all three qualities that are top on my list.  Since I am also a teacher for young children,  I am curious about his music therapy background.  I recently sat down with him to ask him some questions about his chosen career, his music for kids, and his upcoming show at Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM).

So, I just heard that you and your band are performing at BAM as part of their very prestigious kids film festival on Saturday, February 5th.  This is so exciting! How does it make you feel?

Fantaculous! Wonderiffic!

What do you hope will happen at the show?
Musical alchemy! Connection- Participation - Active Listening - Singing - Dancing - And perhaps kids (or grown ups) scribbling on a napkin because they just got a new idea!! 

How long have you been creating and performing music for kids?

This MLK day marks the start of my 3rd year performing for kids.
In late 2008, when I was in the crux of building my music therapy practice, I became inspired to create my first kids album.  When it was almost done, I sent out en email blast to say I had started a myspace page – Susan Fox (Park Slope Parents) happened to be on my email list, and invited me to perform at MLK day show at The Old Reformed Church in Park Slope. That was my big debut:)

What is your favorite part about performing in front of a live audience?
I love seeing the effect music has on people- especially when it comes to children dancing - it's practically involuntary for completely natural.
In addition, I get to see parents relating to their kids THROUGH my songs, which is something I suspect all "family" performers cherish.
Do you feel like you can make a living as a kindie artist?
I feel like I could make a living doing anything – because it still involves making a connection with people. I really cherish being able to put on different hats at different times in order to meet the needs of the moment. That means I get to give professional lectures at a college, or I get to be a complete goofball at a kids’ birthday party.  I also get to help a child hold a drumstick while infusing music therapy goals.

Can you give me a brief description of music therapy?

At the risk of sounding generic, music therapy is the clinical application of music to address goals and objectives of the client.  One of the most wonderful things about music therapy is that you can address many if not all of the goals of occupational, physical and speech therapy within a medium which children are naturally drawn to – they don’t have the fear that something is wrong with them – Music is the universal language.
Another thing to think about, is how musical dynamics are a symbolic vehicle for experiences that may not be physically possible for some - like going high then low, fast, then slow, loud and quiet - all these facets of music are connected to motion and emotion and have the capacity to reach a person on many levels.

Do you incorporate music therapy in your recorded music? If so, how?
Yes. Absolutely!
When I first had the idea of making a kids album – I thought it would be easy – but then when I realized what the songs could mean- it became a responsibility to incorporate every bit of artistic, educative, and therapeutic integrity I could muster. While I produce my songs to be fun enough to play in the car, I use those same songs for developing speech, movement and other developmental goals. Of course, the songs are more general on the CD's, but can be adapted.

How can the average parent incorporate music therapy in their kid’s daily diet?
If music is the fruit of life, here's food for thought- our parents are the only doctors we need (this statement is not approved by the FDA).

Can you give me an example of how I, as a music and movement teacher, can incorporate music therapy into my classes?

Let's be clear, the healing and therapeutic effects of music are far more established and ancient than the term “music therapy.”  It’s almost redundant to use the term music therapy because music IS therapy.
The number one jewel a teacher can offer is being fully present, open and caring - Not a challenge for you Suzi:)

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In five years I will have the most impeccable answer to the question you just asked.
My ultimate goal is to just to keep sharing my music and approach with those who feel drawn to it.

It’s been so great hanging out with you Jon, and I wish you all the best at your upcoming show at BAM on February 5th!

Saturday, Feb 5th  12pm & 2pm
BAM Peter Jay Sharp Building
30 Lafayette Ave. 
Brooklyn, NY  11217

For more info on Jon Samson and CoCreative music - 
please visit his website
or his check out his facebook page and become a fan!
Jon Samson

Make sure you share this video with your kids.  Emma loves it!

PS - Jon and I are both performing as part of a wonderful fundraiser hosted by Bob from Sesame Street for Kids Need a Melody coming up on Saturday, Jan 29th at Crash Mansion in NYC.