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Advice appreciated on teaching a 5 year-old

Home Forums Teaching the Harp Advice appreciated on teaching a 5 year-old

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  • #82628
    andee-craig
    Participant

    I’ve got a 5 year old starting lessons with me in a couple of days. She’s already had one lesson with someone else so far. She’s got one of those cheap mid-eastern harps, only 19 strings. She can already pick out ‘Twinkle Twinkle’, ‘Frere Jacques’, and ‘Hot Cross Buns’. She’s taught herself these and can play with one finger on each hand.

    I’ve been told that children that young can’t really use the fourth finger, so I intend to concentrate on thumb and second and third fingers.

    I’ve got a Dusty Strings 26 that I’ll have her use. I’ll set it up on the floor (without the legs) and give her a little stool to sit on. That way it’s a miniature version of sitting at a full-size lever harp.

    This way I can teach her proper posture, hand position and then playing up and down the scales, skipping strings, triads, placing before plucking. I don’t intend on doing loads of this because I don’t want her to get bored, so I’ll move on to a simple tune like ‘Katie Bairdie’ by the second or third lesson. The left hand will be simple, but I won’t introduce it too soon.

    She can practice on her 19-string harp at home, but her father knows they will have to upgrade the harp very soon. I know of one to rent (a 30-string).

    Does this sound reasonable? Any other points to consider? Other advice?

    #82629
    Alison
    Participant

    I always start with 2nd fingers, then introduce the thumb and do ‘walking ‘ exercises for a few weeks, before any tunes. You can plan the process, but not the rate of progress and at that age her concentration won’t last more than 10 minutes . Teach her the alphabet of the scale and then keep reinforcing that so that she knows the names of the notes, No doubt you will have to undo what she has learnt on her own, I found the hand position and posture the most difficult to instill but with a lot of patience and persistence it seems to be working, but always needy of reminding. Read the paper on Kodaly on the web to understand why words and rhymes are so necessary, and just enjoy it! !

    #82630
    andee-craig
    Participant

    Thank you for that Alison. I heard she lasted almost 45 minutes at her first lesson before getting twitchy! But I don’t expect that to always be the case.

    I will start with thumb and second finger like you said, and then progress to three fingers. Will do walking up the scale and teach her the names of the notes. Will look into Kodaly, not familiar with the name….

    #82631
    rosalind-beck
    Participant

    Andee, check out Suzuki Harp School Book 1. It is geared to very little children, and it uses the 4th finger once they get to Twinkle Variation A, i.e, not very far at all into the method. In my experience, the major problem is that of maintaining concentration. Do a lot of different activities, rhythm drills, games, etc. It’s definitely a challenge to keep them busy and engaged. Good luck!

    #82632
    andee-craig
    Participant

    Thanks Rosalind, I will probably have to order that book!

    #82633
    Alison
    Participant
    #82634

    You could try using “Step by Step”, books

    #82635
    andee-craig
    Participant

    Thank you Patricia, I have just googled her, seems her books may be hard to track down, but worth a try.

    I just found out today my little student won’t be having lessons anymore. I’m sad about it as I really enjoyed teaching her and she did really well. What I thought would be a struggle ended up being a fantastic challenge for me which stretched my teaching skills, and now if I ever get a student that young again, I won’t hesitate to take her or him on.

    My little student’s dad did say he was impressed with his daughter’s achievements, but I can’t help but wonder if I could have done better. Ah well, there’s no point in negative thinking and I’ve just got to be proud of what I got out of it and of how far my little student came in just several weeks.

    #82636

    There is a wonderful book by Gabriella Bosio called “I Play the Harp”, which is aimed at teaching very young children. There are some really cute drawings and ideas that help illustrate how to position the hands. I particularly like the “elephant”, (for having the second finger pointing down, like the elephant’s trunk. It made a huge difference for my 7-year-old student. Saying “thumb up, fingers down” does not resonate with a child like saying” Make your hand look like an elephant”.

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