Using the sustain pedal

The most commonly used pedal on a piano is the sustain pedal.  If your piano/keyboard has three pedals, the sustain pedal is the one farthest to the right.  If your keyboard only has one, it is most likely the sustain pedal.

This pedal “sustains” the notes of a piano by allowing the strings to vibrate freely.  Using the sustain pedal can really impact a piece of music.  It allows the player to fill in “gaps” and add a certain ambience.  

To use this pedal and sustain the notes, just push the pedal down with your foot and hold it down.  Lifting it up “lets go” of the sustained notes.  Lifting it up and placing it right back down is called “changing the pedal.”  This is important because it allows you to reset the sustained notes, so the notes do not clash.

There are multiple ways the sustain pedal can be used, but the most common way is to change the pedal once per chord.  This is because the notes of the chord work well together.  However, if the piece of music gets very busy with a lot of fast notes and changing chords, it is usually best to use less pedal.   

Pedal Change Tip:  Lift the pedal up when you are placing the new chord down.  It may feel more natural to push the pedal down as you push the chord down, but this may create a break in the sound before that chord.  If you place the new chord down while the pedal is lifted, you avoid clashing notes and also avoid gaps in the sustained sound.


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