Patty versus Mozart, Curious? (Pedcast)

This pedcast is an editorial commentary. Listen and find out what I believe is the essential ingredient in your child achieving success in school and life.


1.Lubetzky, Ronit & Francis B. Mimouni. Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, 7 Dec. 2009. Web. 9 July 2010 .

2.Jenkins, JS The Mozart Effect. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, Apr. 2001. Web. June 2010 .

3.Elmasry, Faiza Why Do Asian American Students Excel in School? IMDiversity, 28 Dec. 2005. Web. July 2010 .

4.Scneider, Barbara, and Yongsook Lee “A Model for Academic Success: The School and Home Environment of East Asian Students.” JSTOR 21.4 (1990): 358-377. Print.

5.Lee, Song-Yi Cracking the Myths of Asian Student Success. Johns Hopkins, Feb. 2006. Web. Aug. 2010 .

6.Unlisted, Tradition China. Babyzone, Jan. 2009. Web. June 2010 .

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  1. Annie Beth Donahue says:

    Dr. Smolen- first of all, let’s just say that you are awesome.

    As a music therapist, I read The Mozart Affect in the 90s. Even then, the music therapist community viewed the book as a whole as “junk science”. There were some valid points- yes, you will sharpen your brain power temporarily by listening to Mozart. Green tea can have a similar affect. I’m sure frequent exposure over a long period of time might be able to help keep your brain alert, just as doing cross word puzzles and knitting help keep dementia at bay. However, Mozart is not your “golden ticket”. (Wonka Bar, anyone?) There is a reason that the education level of parents is a strong indicator of children’s school success. It’s called READING. No matter what type of education you receive after age 6, it is very very difficult to catch up academically if you have not been read to. Parents who are poor readers do not usually read to their children the way they should- volume wise or content wise. Children who are not read to do not develop the vocabulary of their read-to peers. They don’t have the reading comprehension skills. According to Reach Out And Read:

    “Upon entering elementary school some children have a 5,000 word vocabulary, others a 10,000 word vocabulary and some a 20,000 word vocabulary. Those with 5,000 words have generally received direct commands such as, “Stop”, “Eat your food”, “Shut the door”, with minimal exposure to reading. These children can never again equal their classmates and frequently drop out of school at age 16 with very little subsequent opportunities.”

    Parents that are poor readers raise children that are poor readers- and the cycle continues. Even if a parent is not secure in their own ability to read well, they need to try. If anything, they can still converse with the child, the volume of which is also an indicator of vocabulary and school success. This leads into your comments on TV. Children that are exposed to television, even on as background noise, vocalize less as infants. TV hinders conversation. It hinders creative play. It hinders all sorts of things. Shut the TV off. Our family has only broadcast cable. We download specific shows from the internet and watch them through our computer on our TV. (You’d be surprised how many shows you can download as torrents.) In order to watch TV, we have to make a very conscious choice to select a show and spend time acquiring it. That cuts down on mindless TV viewing. Our children are not allowed to watch TV during the school week. Not even first thing in the morning or in the afternoon. TV should be treated like desert- it’s a treat, it can be a fun supplement to learning, but it’s not your full diet. I would challenge you to turn off your TV for a week and see what happens. Your children will play. They will create. They will get along better. Your house will be a calmer place without the background noise. And, as Dr. Smolen mentioned in his podcast on organized sports, they will go outside and learn to interact with other people without the interference and micromanaging of their parents. Just my two cents!

    Annie Beth Donahue
    Music therapist, homeschooling mom to 4, and CEO of Signposts Ministries- a ministry to children with disabilities and chronic health problems and their families

    • Doc Smo says:

      Annie, Thanks for your insightful and information packed comment. I couldn’t agree more about the TV….check out my Pedcast on limiting screen time! You are the one who is awesome. A music therapist… who would have known. I hope you enjoyed my son’s music in the Pedcast.

  2. Veronica Terrana says:


    If the reading specialist can add her two cents in: that part about kids do what they see their parents do: Dads, that means YOU. If mom’s the only one who reads to the kids or is seen reading, when boys hit about 8 and start looking for gender role models, they’re going to associate reading with female activities. They need to see you doing it and you need to do it with them, especially male children!

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