Before applying advanced sustain pedal techniques, make sure to master the basic pedal mechanism. The pedal should always be pressed smoothly, gradually, and quietly. The ball of your foot should maintain contact with the pedal at all times to give you the maximum amount of control over the instrument. Practice lowering and lifting the pedal without making any noise or uncontrolled movements.
Once you’re familiar with the pedal itself, try to apply some of the pedal techniques below to your pieces:
1 - The Legato Pedal
In legato pedaling the sustain pedal is pressed down after a note or chord has been played but before it has been released. It’s called legato pedaling because the pedal is used as a way to connect notes together and create the illusion of smooth playing. This technique is also called syncopated pedaling because the foot goes down as keys go up. Practice a chord progression using this technique and connect each chord smoothly.
2 - The Direct Pedal
In the direct pedal, the sustain pedal is depressed at the same moment the keys are struck. This is great for accenting a sharp attack or giving a big chord some extra resonance. In dance music (a waltz for example), using direct pedaling on downbeats can help accent the rhythmic pulse of the piece. To practice this technique, use a chord progression again, but this time, focus on your foot and hand moving at the same time, so that each chord is accented slightly.
3 - The Preliminary Pedal
The preliminary pedal is the easiest to execute and creates incredible results. It simply means to press the pedal down before the first notes of a piece or section. This allows the piano to be at its most resonant when the keys are struck and creates a full, deep, and beautiful sound.
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