You can use the pedal on the piano or keyboard to achieve different effects with your musical sound and add a whole new dimension to your playing. Give these exercises a try for some practice.


Uniform Pedal Changes on One Line

Although changing the pedal with the change of harmony is a general rule, change it more frequently when you’re also playing a melodic line. With a slow melody, you may change the pedal before the harmony changes so the melody doesn’t get too blurry.


Varied Pedal Changes on One Line

You can enhance your legato phrasing by pedaling even more frequently along the melodic line, especially in melodic lines with a wide range that call for a singer’s phrasing. Try it with the melody to Stephen Foster’s “Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair.”


Pedaling for Effect

Use the sustain pedal for atmospheric effect (sustaining for a blurred effect) or to sustain a note or chord over several measures. Here, the pedal helps sustain the long notes in one hand while smoothing the melodic movement in the other.


Sustaining as the Hands Move

You can use the pedal to give notes their full value when you have to move your hands to a new position on the keyboard. This can be a plus musically, because you can exaggerate the rhythms and the differences between the long and short articulations.


Performance Piece: “Simple Gifts”

The pedal is up when the melody is in the left hand, and down when the melody is in the upper register of the right hand. During the last three measures, you keep the pedal down to layer the G major chord over the full range of the piano. Listen to “Simple Gifts” to hear this effect.