Piano & Keyboard All-in-One For Dummies
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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

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

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

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

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”

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.

About This Article

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About the book authors:

Michael Pilhofer, MM, holds a Master's in Music Education with a Jazz Emphasis from the Eastman School of Music, and a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Performance from the University of Miami.

Holly Day's work has appeared in Guitar One Magazine, Music Alive!, culturefront Magazine, and Brutarian Magazine.

Jerry Kovarsky is a regular columnist for Keyboard magazine and longtime product management guru with Casio, Korg, and other companies who have been instrumental in bringing keyboard technology into people's homes and onto stages and studios around the world.

Holly Day and Michael Pilhofer are co-authors of all editions of Music Theory For Dummies and Music Composition For Dummies. Blake Neely was a contributing author to the 2nd edition of Piano For Dummies. David Pearl is author of Piano Exercises For Dummies. Jerry Kovarksy is a contributing writer to Electronic Musician magazine. David Pearl is the author of The Art of Steely Dan and Color Your Chords. His other books include Burt Bacharach Piano Solos, jazz transcriptions of artists such as Grover Washington, Jr. and Dave Douglas, and arrangements of jazz tunes, classical pieces, and opera arias for piano. He has taught piano and performed jazz and classical music professionally for more than 30 years.

Michael Pilhofer, MM, holds a Master's in Music Education with a Jazz Emphasis from the Eastman School of Music, and a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Performance from the University of Miami.

Holly Day's work has appeared in Guitar One Magazine, Music Alive!, culturefront Magazine, and Brutarian Magazine.

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