Archive for the 'Piano Pedal' Category

Once you learn the basic techniques of playing the piano, the next step is to learn how and when to use the Piano pedals, so as to add depth and feelings to any piano piece.

There are three pedals on the piano:

  • the sustain pedal on the right, played with the right foot.
  • the soft pedal on the left, played with the left foot.
  • the sostenuto pedal in the middle, played with the left foot.

The pedals are played with your foot; the sustain with your right, soft with left. The middle pedal, although rarely used, replaces the function of the sustain pedal once in a while, so it would be played with the right foot.

  • Place your foot flat on the floor when progressing through long passages without any pedal usage. If you find it hard to do this,move you seat back slightly to make yourself more comfortable (but not to far out). You can also slide your toes underneath the pedal to prevent yourself from using it.
  • When a pedal is meant to be played, place the heel of your foot on the ground directly in front of the pedal.
  • Pivot downwards, pressing down the pedal with the ball of your foot.
  • Your heel should never leave the ground while depressing a pedal.
  • When releasing the pedal, be sure to do so gently. If you raise your foot too quickly, you may hear an undesirable “clunk” sound.

The sustain pedal is the most often used pedal. It releases the strings of the dampers, felt-covered pieces of wood that deaden a string’s vibration.

The soft pedal enhances soft passages. The soft pedal does not mean you should play loudly when depressing it so that the sound is soft.

The middle pedal, called sostenuto, is rarely used, but is indicated in music with clear instructions. This pedal keeps the dampers up that were raised when it was depressed, enabling staccato play independent of the sustained note.


  1. Most piano pieces, including the classics, only require use of the sustain pedal, but the soft pedal is used occasionally.
  2. Not all pianos have three pedals since the sostenuto is seldom used. That does not mean the piano is inferior or should not be used or purchased.
  3. Never randomly use the pedal by going up and down on it because the music will sound choppy, instead of smooth.
  4. Experiment with the pedals. Play a scale, and be aware of how you are using the pedal. Listen to the sound and how the pedal effects it.
  5. The more you experiment with the pedal usage, the better you will become using it and enhancing your piece of music.
  6. During practice time, include practicing with and without the pedal, holding it down and raising it, to get the desired effect.
  7. Remember, after you get used to using the pedal, songs will sound unfulfilled without the pedal, so its important to know how to use the pedal properly.

A sustain pedal or sustaining pedal (also damper pedal or loud pedal) is the most commonly used pedal in a modern piano[citation needed]. It is typically the rightmost of two or three pedals. When pressed, the sustain pedal “sustains” all the strings on the piano, removing the dampers from all strings and allowing them to vibrate freely. This serves two purposes. First, it assists the pianist in producing a legato (playing smoothly connected notes) in passages where no fingering is available to make this otherwise possible. Secondly, raising the damper pedal causes all the strings to vibrate sympathetically with whichever notes are being played, which greatly enriches the piano’s tone.

A device similar to the damper pedal in effect was invented by the piano pioneer Gottfried Silbermann; it was operated by the player’s hands rather than a pedal. A later eminent early builder, Johann Andreas Stein, may have been the first to allow the player to lift the dampers while still playing; his device was controlled by a knee lever.

Until the onset of the Romantic era in music, the damper pedal was considered a special effect, used only in particular circumstances (see Piano history and musical performance). Only with the Romantics did a fairly constant use of the pedal come to be regarded as an essential element of piano sound.

Specifying pedaling in musical compositions
Appropriate use of the pedal is often left to the musician’s discretion, but composers and music editors also use pedal marks to notate it. The most common symbol for this is a horizontal line below the grand staff, which lifts up and down with the pedal. An alternative (and older) notation is the use of indicating where the sustain pedal should be depressed, and an asterisk showing where it should be lifted. Occasionally there is a general direction at the start of a movement instructing that the sustain pedal be applied continuously throughout. This may be marked with senza sordini (“without dampers”), or similar wording (see Moonlight Sonata for a famous example).

Ever wonder how that soft pedal on the left really works?

The soft pedal (or una corda pedal) is one of the standard pedals on a piano, generally placed leftmost among the pedals. On a grand piano, this pedal shifts the whole action including the keyboard slightly to the right, so that hammers that normally strike all three of the strings for a note strike only two of them. This softens the note and also modifies its tone quality.

The essential function of the soft pedal was invented by Bartolomeo Cristofori, who was the inventor of the piano, On some his pianos, it was possible to move the hammer mechanism so that the hammers struck just one of the two strings per note. Cristofori’s mechanism was a hand stop, necessitating a free hand for its use. By Mozart’s time (see Fortepiano), mechanisms had been invented that permitted the same function to be carried out by a knee lever (located below the keyboard), and in the late 18th century the pedal mechanism familiar to us today was introduced.

In the 18th and early 19th centuries, the piano had evolved to have three strings on most of the notes. The soft pedal of this time was more effective than today, since it was possible to use it to strike three, two or even just one string per note—this is the origin of the name “una corda”, Italian for “one string”. In modern pianos, the strings are spaced too closely to permit a true “una corda” effect—-if shifted far enough to strike just one string on one note, the hammers would also hit the string of the next note. See Piano history and musical performance.

On upright pianos, the soft pedal operates a mechanism which moves the hammers’ resting position closer to the strings. Since the hammers have less distance to travel this reduces the speed at which they hit the strings, and hence the volume is reduced, but this does not change tone quality in the way the una corda pedal does on a grand piano.

So on a vertical piano, the left pedal is like an off-and-on switch-press the pedal and the volume drops. But on a well-regulated grand piano, you can use techniques such as half-pedaling to get not only a difference in volume but also subtle variations in tone color.

The use of the soft pedal is generally notated with the words una corda or due corde (Italian for one or two strings) to show when the pedal should begin being used, and tre corde or tutte le corde (meaning “three strings” or “all the strings”) for when it should be released. There is discretion for the performer in its use, however, and it can be used when there is no notation when the performer believes its timbre or quietness is called for by the piece.

In music, sostenuto is a term from Italian which means “sustained,” and occasionally also implies a slowing of tempo. It usually refers to a style of playing rather than a tempo. For instance, if the tempo marking of a piece is Adagio Sostenuto, the tempo would be slow (Adagio), and the sostenuto part of the marking tells the player to hold notes longer than they normally would, and play phrases in a very legato style.

On a modern grand piano with three pedals, the middle pedal is usually a sostenuto pedal. It sustains only those notes which are depressed at the same time that the pedal is depressed, allowing future notes played to be unaffected. It is commonly abbreviated “S.P.”, “Sost. Ped.” or “ThP.” (from the German equivalent “Tonhalte-Pedal”).

On some upright pianos, the middle pedal sustains all notes in the bass register, but this is not a true sostenuto pedal. On other uprights, the middle pedal is a practice pedal (with a locking option) which makes the sound extremely quiet beyond the standard soft pedal. This is often achieved by dropping a felt cloth between the hammers and the strings when the practice pedal is depressed.

Note that the sostenuto pedal should not be confused with the much more commonly used sustain pedal, which undamps all the strings on the piano.

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