Yes - Oliver was definitely too young to start learning to play (well, in my books anyway) but the photo is cute! And... this can only be expected that when mummy has these cute little instruments all over the house, that little hands will experiment with them! I think he might have been around 3 years old - at that time he also learnt how to tune the harp.. very carefully!
My preferred age to start beginners is around 8 years, or any time after that when they are really begging to learn. It's no fun for the student, the parent, or the teacher if they don't really want to learn to play an instrument, or if the parent is the force behind the lessons. I believe they will do better if they come to learning an instrument in their own time, not when the parent says so!
If your really young child wants to learn to play the harp, please be prepared to sit down daily to practise with them - you can't expect them to do this all by themselves. And... be realistic, they are often tired after school - sometimes too tired to attend a lesson - if its not working, don't force more lessons on them - they won't thank you for it in the long run. Students who start at 8+ make more progress in the beginning as they know all their concepts, know how to read, can learn to read music quickly and have got a grip on what is happening at school - they are ready to learn new stuff too!
My approach to teaching students is very much determined by the students themselves - we are all totally unique and I don't expect any two students to conform to the same way of learning.
My teaching experience ranges from classroom teaching at primary, intermediate and secondary (majoring in music and literacy) levels, and in the last 18 years, primarily teaching students to play the harp.
Students can work towards exams (with Trinity College, ABRSM) or just work through the levels and not actually sit the exams. Each student decides what their goal will be.
Students who wish to prepare for exams will work through the set repertoire and tests, with a exam session in mind, but if they are not ready to sit the exam in that session, or if they are already booked to sit in a particular session, but haven't done the work needed to sit the exam, they may be advised not to sit at that date, but to rebook for a later exam session. Our objective in sitting exams is to show the examiner all the hard work the student has done in preparation, and if the student is not ready to sit the exam, there is no pressure to do so, in fact, they will be encouraged to be better prepared before doing the exam. We're aiming for really beautiful and musical presentation of our music.
My main focus is teaching students individually, but I also teach in group lessons (for adults) and ensembles.
I am always happy to help students choose their 'first harp', having been involved in building harps, having owned a few different types, and played many different harps, here and overseas, I know what to look for in a good harp and which ones (harps and harp makers!) to avoid. In saying that, there is a harp out there that would suit each type of harpist and we don't all need to have the top of the line, hand crafted professional harps - sometimes the student model is even better than the professional model, and the most expensive harp is not necessarily the best one for you!
Generally in the studio I have harps made by Kim Webby, Dusty Strings, Salvi, Harps of the South, Aoyama and Stewart Harps available for students to try out during their lessons. It's just as important to find out about the harps you don't like as it is to find one you do like! Harp regulations/services are done annually by Kim Webby, and he will be happy to service your harp(s) also.