To most people, the piano is a sophisticated instrument because it consists of different fragments such as strings, hammers, pins, a hardwood that gives its body a sturdy build, the pedals and the 88 keys (some keyboards have less but 88 is for your average piano).
In spite of how complex the piano seems to be, the fun and great feeling one enjoys while playing it is undoubtedly unrivaled; hence, learning it is considered a great investment.
Yeah, you heard me, right! The time and energy committed to learning to play the piano are definitely worth it.
As a beginner, there are lots of questions that will pop up in your mind when it comes to learning how to play the piano. One such questions are, “What’s the purpose of the pedal on the piano?” The pedal has got a lot to do with the piano. However, before we go in-depth in explaining its impact and uses, we’d love to take you through the types of piano.
We have three types of pedals, and two are universal pedals, while the third one is always seen as an optional feature depending on the manufacturer and model you are opting for. Having said this, let’s go straight to the purpose of a piano’s pedals.
The Purpose of a Piano's Pedals
As we earlier said, there are three main pedals. The first and most essential of them all is called “Sustain.” The sustain pedals aid the sympathetic resonance of your piano, therefore, it makes it very crucial especially in most classical piano pieces.
Whenever you release the key of your piano, the hammer would go back to its original positing while the strings which were formerly vibrating would be muted. This is why the sustain pedals are vital because it will add richness to your piano’s acoustics by ensuring the consistent vibration of the strings and damped bar once you press the pedals. The sustain pedal is usually found at the rightmost side of the piano
The second type of pedal is known as the “Sostenuto.” This type of pedal is mostly essential for playing bass notes and chords. Just like the “Sustain” pedal, Sostenuto also serves the purpose of allowing you to hold a chord while pressing the pedal to ensure consistent vibration of the strings and damped bar, which, and as a result produce strong and powerful effects.
The third type of pedals is called the “Una Corda.” Unlike the sustain pedal, una corda is usually found in the leftmost side of the piano. The primary purpose of this pedal is to soften the sound and note that it is currently being played. As you know that every note comprises three strings that are usually hammered at the same time, the una corda pedal will change the mechanics and allow the hammer to hit two strings and leave the third one voiceless.
Tips on Using the Piano Pedals
Since you’ve known the primary purpose of each pedal, the next thing is to know some tips that will aid your usage of these pedals. You ought to know that maintaining a good posture when playing the piano is essential because of the following reasons;
To comfortably reach the pedals: If you maintain a correct posture by keeping your feet to the ground, there won’t be a need to overextend your legs, which may lead to great discomfort. Thus, you need to align your feet by putting your left feet in the front of the una corda pedal while your right feet should be in front of the sustain pedal.
Also, you must ensure that your legs are extended and make sure the balls of your feet are located at the end of the pedals. You can adjust your feet a little bit if you are not comfortable with that posture but you have to place your feet in the right position.
To prevent unnecessary movement: Maintaining a good posture will prevent unnecessary movement, which may hinder your training.
There are various methods, such as full-way, half-way, and quarter-way, you can adopt when using the pedals. The full-way method means pressing the pedal until it reaches the bottom before slowly releasing it.
The half-way, on the other hand, is used to lower the impact that the pedals would have on the piano. While the quarter-way method is highly effective when you want the pedals to have a slight effect on the piano.
We know you’re eager to experiment with these pedaling techniques. However, you need to get yourself familiar with notations before you can start using the techniques above. This is because most music sheets contain a sost ped, and its asterisk is normally used as a guide for the release-pedal.
However, if the music sheet doesn’t contain any pedaling-information, you can infuse the pedaling effect based on your preference, but be sure not to overuse the pedals because it’ll have a negative impact on the song.
Furthermore, you should master your hand and feet-coordination. With this, you’ll be able to use any pedaling techniques as well as the three pedals as you wish without having to adjust your body posture.
There are various pedaling techniques, and we’ll surely take you through each technique in this write-up.
Simultaneous Pedaling: This is the first and most common pedaling technique. It can be done by playing the key and the pedal simultaneously (i.e., at the same time.) As a result of this, either the note or chord (you are currently playing on) will have a higher sustain and sound deeper.
Preliminary Pedaling: This is done by pressing one of the three pedals, and then play the note. With this, the focus will be on the piano resonance, and as a result, you will end up having a melodious sound.
Delayed Pedaling: Unlike the preliminary pedaling, the delayed pedaling requires playing the note or chord first before pressing any of the pedals. It is mostly used when there is an excellent connection between the chords and the impending note.
Having a mastery of the pedals and the ability to use it effectively will certainly give you an edge and make you bring out the best out of an average piano piece. Start practicing, and you can be sure of setting yourself apart from others.
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