7. Pedal Exercises: Piano Technique
Being a pianist is hard isn’t it? Our 10 fingers cover 88 keys and our 2 feet cover 3 pedals. We’re master multi-taskers aren’t we!
3 Pedals Explained
Pianos have 3 pedals:
- Una Corda (left pedal) – Shifts the hammers in our piano slightly to create a thinner sound.
- Dampener (middle pedal on upright pianos) – Puts a soft material between the hammers and the strings to create a dampened sound.
- Sostenuto (middle pedal on grand pianos) – Only sustains the notes that are being pressed down.
- Sustaining pedal (right pedal) – Removes dampers on the wires so that our notes sound sustained.
Where to Press the Pedal
Piano pedals are weirdly shaped. This is to help us.
When pressing the pedal we should keep our heels on the ground and press with our big toe onto the widest part of the pedal.
The right pedal is always pressed using our right foot and the left is always pressed using our left foot. The middle one can be pressed using whichever foot, but usually the right foot.
We use the pedal on the right, the sustaining pedal, the most often when playing piano.
Here is a great exercise to help you control the pedal better.
Video Description: Play each note one by one. As your finger goes down bring your foot down also. Immediately remove your finger and keep the pedal down, the note is sustained. Now as you go to play the next note, bring your foot off the pedal and immediately back down as your finger hits the next note.
Practice the finger movement slowly, but make sure your foot movement is fast. We don’t want to hear any gaps between the notes even though your fingers wont be on the notes, the pedal will do the work. Wait until the very last moment to release the pedal.
You may also hear some noises from the pedal if you are too forceful with the pedal, this will take some adjusting to get rid of, but with practice, it will go away.