When to Introduce the Pedal
Found in: Musicality, Pedaling, Technique
Megan W., Washington
I also started teaching last fall. Another teacher in my area (Dixie Cramer) had a great idea that I have been using. As the students start to get anxious to learn how to read notes, she gives them a list of things they have to accomplish before she will teach them the reading rhythm/notes. One of her requirements is that they go through the pedaling lessons.
These are taken straight from the “Using The Pedal” workshop from Simply Music. I purchased it a month or 2 ago and it is now a digital download which I find quite nice and easy to access. The workshop is excellent and the presenter shows us how to teach it to our students. I was also traditionally trained and truthfully I couldn’t exactly explain how I pedaled. I just do it. But now using the Pedaling workshop I have a great foundation on how to teach them. And all my students are doing really fantastic with what I’ve taught them so far.
So get the workshop. It really is a great way to teach pedaling.
Mei Ling W., Canada
I started teaching last year.
Question -When in the SM curriculum is the pedal introduced? Is it introduced? Particular methods used?
Look forward to your response.
Karen D., Canada
I start introducing moving the pedal up and down in Level 2, but using Level 1 Honey Dew or Amazing Grace (i.e., an accompaniment piece they know very well). Before this time, my students had the pedal down for all pieces except the blues. I also find that Pipes in Level 3 is a great place to show students when to go almost off and then on the pedal again using the LH as a guide.
I learned how to pedal with the workshop audio recording on this. Having been previously traditionally trained, I only knew how to use the pedal when told to do so. The workshop on using the pedal is fantastic and really helped me pedal naturally as well as teach my students how to do so.
Mark M., New York
I highly recommend you get and listen to Samali’s TWS audio program on Using the Pedal. It’s easy enough to distinguish a complete set of projects to make this a stream, based on her presentation.
I’ve come introduce the pedal training around halfway through Foundation 3. I keep it as a regular stream until it’s “finished,” meaning until the formal projects are finished and students can simply use the pedal from that point forward with any repertoire projects, forever. This timing ensures that students:
- Have a stronger grasp of all the other streams than if I were to introduce pedal training any earlier, which benefits those other streams (instead of watering them down with too many other things going on too early) and pedal (since the stronger the pieces are to which we’ll apply pedal work, the better the pedal work goes)
- See pedal training as key area of focus, which they wouldn’t if it were taught more sparsely over a longer period of time
- Are comfortable with Greensleeves by the time we reach that point in Samali’s suggested projects, so that between their general knowledge and their specific pedal knowledge they’ll really feel that from then on they can just work the pedal on their own with whatever comes their way
- Finish the pedal program before I begin introducing Reading Rhythm (another program for which the starting time varies among teachers — I introduce it beginning after Deep River), which I think it important because they are both streams that involve no learning of new performance projects, and so both, though valuable, serve to give a sense of slowing other things down, so I would absolutely not want to double that impact by having these programs going on simultaneously
Barbara M., New Jersey
I find the rainbow colors analogy that Samali uses in the Pedal Workshop to be wonderfully appropriate. After talking about rainbows and how the colors blend:
- Play triads from Middle C to Treble C with no pedal. Notice the separation. Like a rainbow where the colors are separated by sky. Not in nature!
- Play triads as above with the pedal down the whole time. Notice the blurriness. Like coloring a rainbow, but mixing all the colors.
- Play triads again with pedaling. Like the rainbow, the colors blend into one another and connect.
I have found that “say the instructions out loud” is a tool you need for this skill. Do exactly as Samali recommends:
- Pat RH hand on leg saying “hand.” several times
- Tap right foot saying “foot” – long enough to really connect the word with the action.
- Put the words/actions together – say “hand-foot” slowly, then faster, until they are happening practically at the same time.
- Repeat these 3 instructions above with foot actually on the pedal and hand actually playing the piano – a simple 5 steps or triads as above.