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#1279629 - 10/02/09 08:04 PM pedaling with great effort  
Joined: Jan 2008
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Overexposed Offline
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Overexposed  Offline
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I have an adult student who has had one year of lessons, progressing well...but when he pedals he looks like it's this great effort to play notes and pedal at the same time.

So far I've just brought the problem to his attention and demonstrated pedaling.I'm planning to suggest some pedaling practice, apart from his music. Perhaps playing triads and pedaling with each new triad moving up a C scale. Any suggestions for helping a student with pedaling?

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#1279642 - 10/02/09 08:21 PM Re: pedaling with great effort [Re: Overexposed]  
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rocket88 Offline
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Introducing the pedal is like telling someone who has just learned to juggle three balls that "guess what...here is four balls!" That is their perspective.

What you suggest sounds like a good solution...have him go very slowly and built up the tempo.

Also, you might try going back to one of his earliest pieces, one that he liked then, and could play well. First have him review it, and see if he still can play it well. If so, put in some pedal markings, say for the first two beats of each measure, and have him practice the pedal at a slow tempo that way.

By doing that, he will be introducing the pedal on a piece of music that he has mastered, that is easy, and that has been in his mind for a long time.

Good Luck, and keep us posted.

Piano teacher and Blues and Boogie-Woogie pianist.
#1279647 - 10/02/09 08:33 PM Re: pedaling with great effort [Re: rocket88]  
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foxyw Offline
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I'm an adult student and for the first 6 or 8 months of lessons, I could only pedal with great effort. It was as rocket88 said - another ball to juggle when I was already working hard on the first three. For my first year of lessons (I was an adult restarter and never got as far as learning to pedal the first time around) I worked through the Faber and Faber Adult book 2 and it had a number of helpful pedal exercises like you suggested where you play triads and pedal and move up the scale. Those exercises, together with playing a number of pop and rock pieces where I pedal on every chord change has really helped to improve my pedal technique. These pieces do not have pedal markings in them, I just pedal at each chord change in the left hand. I no longer fear the pedal as I did early on during my lessons.

Last edited by foxyw; 10/02/09 08:34 PM.

"Ah, music. A magic beyond all we do here!" J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, 1997.

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#1279815 - 10/03/09 06:34 AM Re: pedaling with great effort [Re: foxyw]  
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Overexposed Offline
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Rocket88 and Foxyw, thank you for your insights and suggestions. This encourages me that practice (pedaling)with something he already has confidence in playing will help improve his pedal technique.

#1279829 - 10/03/09 07:59 AM Re: pedaling with great effort [Re: Overexposed]  
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Morodiene Offline
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I teach legato pedaling first by having the student play a C major scale and pedal each note, except they have to play the scale with just finger 2! They are supposed to listen intently to see if they hear a space at all between the notes, and the goal, of course, is to have no spaces at all.

With those new to pedaling, I always add that much later. Of course, students who are better listeners pedal much easier and know instinctively when to change. But those who do not have to cultivate the skill of listening, and if they are distracted by the notes, articulations, or dynamics, they won't have any room left mentally for listening.

private piano/voice teacher FT

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#1279880 - 10/03/09 09:28 AM Re: pedaling with great effort [Re: Morodiene]  
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John v.d.Brook Offline
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Ann, what's nice about teaching adults is that you can explain in detail about the piano's pedals and how they enrich the sound and help with musical interpretation.

Lifting the dampers off the strings allows the instrument to vibrate longer and add interesting overtones and harmonics, enriching the overall aural experience.

When we lift the dampers is a matter of style. For the Baroque and Classical periods, we often pedal on the beat; for the Romantic, we can pedal as Morodiene described (and this would/should be the first pedaling technique learned by the student anyway); for the Impressionistic, we can teach letting the sounds bleed together, half and quarter pedaling, which I actually teach advanced students to use in both Classical and Romantic music as well, and flutter pedal. If adults become aware of the great variety and usefulness of the damper, unicorda, and sostenuto pedals, they will probably find interest in mastering these along with learning keyboard skills.

"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
#1280069 - 10/03/09 03:05 PM Re: pedaling with great effort [Re: John v.d.Brook]  
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Overexposed Offline
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Thanks Morodiene and John for your thoughtful posts. I think I'll have the student pedal each note of the C scale and explain the effect of lifting the dampers off the strings.

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