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#3065300 01/04/21 07:38 PM
Joined: Jan 2021
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Hello everyone,

One of the pieces I am currently practicing is "The Sick Doll" (Tchaikovsky Op. 39, No. 7) from Tchaikovsky's Album for the Young. My teacher recommended I do syncopated [sustain] pedaling to add more emotion.

However when I try doing so, my leg always feels tense even though the heel is constantly grounded. The discomfort is most pronounced in the upper leg, especially near the hip. I believe this may be because I am continually anticipating when I should pedal.

Does anyone have any tips on how to relax my leg or how to make syncopated pedaling more natural (so that I am not worrying about it)?


Casio PX-160
Working On: Musette in D Major (Bach | BWV Anh. 126), Sonatina in C Major (Clementi | Op. 36, No. 1), The Sick Doll (Tchaikovsky | Op. 39, No. 7)
Sight-Reading: Bartok's Mikrokosmos, Schafer (Op. 45)
Exercises: Czerny (60 Little Studies)
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My thoughts:

Those larger muscles in the upper thigh/hip area are heavily used for balance while sitting. If you are overworking or lifting your entire leg (you may be doing it while thinking you are not), those muscles may be making a lot of emergency moves to keep you in balance while you over work the upper part of your pedaling leg. This could cause fatigue, strain, and soreness in that area.

Pay attention to your upper leg while pedaling. If it is attempting to raise up off the piano bench when you pedal, you may need to work at quieting the upper leg muscles and getting your pedaling done with a lot less motion. Play some non-sense sequence of notes so you won't be focused on getting the notes right, and can focus instead on watching what your upper leg is doing. Maybe 4/4 time, with the first measure all Cs, and the next measure all Ds, then back to Cs, then back to Ds, etc. And, pedal anew for each measure so the Cs don't sustain into the Ds. This should be simple enough so you can watch your leg.

If you see your upper leg raising more than what the simple rocking motion of the ankle causes, or, if you feel the muscles in the upper leg contracting to pull the entire leg up. then you may need to practice pedaling using only the muscles of the calf. I'd think the method in the preceding paragraph might make a nice simple exercise to single out the pedaling action for practice.

I think the movement for pedaling should come mostly, or entirely, from the muscles in the calf that pull the toe end of the foot upwards when the heel is on the ground.


Ralph

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I think it's mostly posture-related problem. You may be sitting too close or too far away from the piano. Bench height also matters. Try to find more comfortable position. You may also try to play in shoes with higher heels.

Another thing to pay attention to is how your leg moves. Try rolling your leg forward on the heel a little bit when you depress the pedal.

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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
I think it's mostly posture-related problem. You may be sitting too close or too far away from the piano. Bench height also matters. Try to find more comfortable position. You may also try to play in shoes with higher heels.

Another thing to pay attention to is how your leg moves. Try rolling your leg forward on the heel a little bit when you depress the pedal.

Hi there,

A good advice of Iaroslav and Ralphiano, but perhaps this will also be helpfull: >>>
Piano posture

Best regards,
Johan B


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Kawai CA95SB (Previous:Yamaha CLP320PE & DGX620)
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'Music is a way of living' & 'Nil volentibus arduum'
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Thank you all! I incorporated your advice and the pain is gone!

First, I tried Ralphiano's C & D exercise and observed that my heel was indeed grounded. Still, the tension was in my upper leg.

Then with Iaroslav and Ralph's comments, things finally made sense; my sitting position was wrong. Half of my thighs were on the bench. The fact that they had to press against the cushion is probably were the tension came from. Sitting on the front half of the bench (5% of my upper leg still on the bench) made all the difference!

Turns out I have been sitting incorrectly all along. I always thought I was sitting on the front half of the bench, just as every pianist recommends. Now I realize that I entirely misjudged just how much of myself was on the back half of the bench.


Casio PX-160
Working On: Musette in D Major (Bach | BWV Anh. 126), Sonatina in C Major (Clementi | Op. 36, No. 1), The Sick Doll (Tchaikovsky | Op. 39, No. 7)
Sight-Reading: Bartok's Mikrokosmos, Schafer (Op. 45)
Exercises: Czerny (60 Little Studies)
Joined: May 2020
Posts: 1,106
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The pedals are designed for shoes. put ~ 1.5 inch of books or wood under your heel for balance. Or wear shoes, but why would ne1 want to do that. laugh

make sure the book doesn't extend under the pedal.

Last edited by jeffcat; 01/06/21 01:07 PM.

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