As a kid, I grew up with music. Whether it was my dad’s trippy ’70s prog rock or my mom’s Abba and show tunes, the stereo was always on in our house. The minute I was allowed to play an instrument, I signed up ⏤ first for the clarinet and eventually, once marching band started, the saxophone. My younger sister did as well, although she wisely chose the more stationary xylophone (a much better deal when it comes to marching across the field). We were a musical family, and it brought us together. So it was only natural that when my twin boys were born, I wanted them to grow up with, appreciate, and learn to play music too.
And when my sister got them the $25 Hape Pound & Tap Xylophone for Christmas, I knew we were off to a good start (even if I would eventually have to trade it out for a saxophone). With over 1,000 reviews on Amazon and a 4.4-star rating, few toddler instruments are as well regarded and highly reviewed ⏤ which says a lot considering it’s essentially a toy that kids beat on to drive their parents crazy. What makes the Hape so fun though is that it’s more than just a typical xylophone ⏤ it’s a xylophone that slides in and out of a wooden bench and can be played by hammering colorful wooden balls into the keys. Simply place each ball on the hole above the instrument and knock them through to play different tunes.
My boys took right to it, and the next thing we knew they were running around the room collecting the balls and smacking them through. You don’t get that kind of exercise playing the piano. And when they were done chasing balls, they simply pulled the xylophone out of the bench and proceeded to tap the keys like they were in the marching band. I swear, on our last visit family visit, it kept the two of them busy playing music and chasing the balls for nearly an hour while the adults chatted. They even began to learn the first seven notes of Mary Had a Little Lamb.
For all of the great musicality it brings, however, the Hape is not without a few drawbacks. The balls often roll under chairs, tables, and the sofa. It’s rare that we can find all three at the same time. And the hammer is the perfect tool with which to terrorize the dog. It would also be great if the xylophone was a bit bigger so they could play more songs. Instructions on how to play any songs would actually be nice, as well ⏤ none are included.
That said, there’s something special about a toy that not only teaches kids to love music but can also keep two occupied at the same time ⏤ the Hape does both beautifully. And that says a lot considering it’s essentially a toy that kids beat on to drive their parents crazy.