Games/exercises for toddler on toy harp

Posted In: Teaching the Harp

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    flautistmainly on #222641

    Please excuse this very basic question, but as a wind player I really have no experience with string instruments.

    I’ve bought my 2-year-old daughter a lovely little toy harp for Christmas and would love some suggestions of little games or very basic exercises to complement her experimental playing.

    I’m lacking imagination and think she’s showing signs of being ready for an ever-so-slightly more structured approach based on her experiments with the piano. Hence my request for suggestions of games/basic exercises etc.

    If she enjoys it I would love to start her on proper harp lessons once she is a few years older.

    Thank you in advance!

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    wil-weten on #222647

    This is not a picture of a harp, but of a zither. Perhaps you can find ideas on a discussion forum for player of zithers.

    Of course, there are harps suitable for toddlers too, and I’m sure some of us could help you getting started playing a real, small harp.

    flautistmainly on #222654

    OK – genuinely, thank you, and apologies if my naivety caused offence.

    If you follow the link above, the product is listed as a ‘harp’ but clearly I shouldn’t have trusted a toy manufacturer.

    Any suggestions for harps for a 2-year-old?

    I assumed that this ‘zither’ was a useful way to get started, and that any kind of a stand-up instrument would be too difficult to manage.

    wil-weten on #222655

    No prob, we like to help here.

    Others here may have different suggestions, but I like the backyard harps with their sturdy (!) cardboard soundboxes.
    Have a look here:
    you can decorate them as you like it. They are also nice for starting adult harpers on a budget. They sound really nice.
    Of course, for a 2 year old, this kind of harp would need to be played under supervision, but you really get a lot of bang for your buck.

    Please, stay away from little harps with wood carvings, they come from Pakistan and are a complete waste of money.

    Biagio on #222656

    Let’s keep this discussion to the zither (and actually a harp is a member of the zither family). You/she could of course just tune diatonically and “follow the bouncing notes” for the included tunes. More interesting to my way of thinking:

    Tune it to a major/minor key eg C E G A C E G A. Then strum some chords, pick out any made up tune at random,

    Explore and experiment! Children learn a lot at that age just by trying different things.

    Playing by ear with a few tunes. These are all on Youtube…Farewell to Tarwaithe, Baloo Balleree, Connemara Cradle Song. These are often played as a duet with flute and harp – so YOU can get involved.

    Experiment with major and minor chords; learn how the major chords differ from minor ones, play a tune with accompanying root chords – 4ths and fifths eg.

    Have her use her finger tips rather than the pick for all of these.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 8 months ago by Biagio.
    • This reply was modified 2 years, 8 months ago by Biagio.
    evolene_t on #222694

    Hello there,

    I have one of those, though we call (plucked) “psaltry” or “psaltery” a from where I’m from. (as opposed to a bowed psaltry that you play with a bow). I’ve also heard it called “lap harp” because you lay it flat on your knees or on the floor.
    It is quite different from the harp though, but fun for little kids.

    Psaltry Score

    Normally, when you bought the instrument, you should have had dotted “scores” in trapezoid form, that you can slip below the strings. The kid just has to follow the dots and pluck to create a nice melody.
    I’ve heard that they were the ancestors of today’s music scores. Not sure if that’s true, but it makes a lot of sense.

    Psaltry Score 2

    My first advice to you it getting a bunch of those and getting your toddler to play around with that. You can find some online when typing “lap harp score”, I think. You could also make some yourself.

    I like Biagio’s idea of tuning it to different keys. I’ll stop my suggestions here because I’m not sure how realistic I can be for a two year old!
    Let her have a lot for fun with it and coordinate all of her senses. Learning the harp should come later.

    emma-graham on #222764

    If you have Instagram take a look at the account of Keziah Thomas. She has a young son and posts some fantastic videos of games she does with him at the harp. She’s a fantastic teacher and I’ve learned so much from her with regard to games for very young children with the harp.
    Her account can be found here

    Gretchen Cover on #222898

    Emma, I looked at Keziah Thomas Instagram. What a talent. Thank you for letting people know about this incredibly inspiring harpist.

    wil-weten on #222904

    Thanks for the link, Emma. Keziah Thomas has a great way of letting very small children have fun with the harp and learn a thing or two!

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