What Do The Three Pedals on The Piano Do?

piano pedals

Piano students are often curious about the three pedals that pianos have. Are you taking piano lessons and want to find out? Then you are in the right place. Read on to find out more about what the three-foot pedals on a piano do?

1) What does the right pedal on a piano do?

The right pedal is the most commonly used pedal by any type of pianist. It is often referred to as the damper or sustain pedal. Unless otherwise indicated in the music, this is the pedal that is expected to be used while playing. When the right pedal is pushed down, it prevents the dampers inside the piano from falling on the strings. The result is that any key(s) played will continue to sound while this pedal is being used; when the pedal is lifted, the dampers fall on the strings and the sound will stop. Pianists use this pedal for a variety of reasons including the ability to play several keys at once, connecting sound which would be difficult to do with just their fingers.

At the Altadena Academy of Music and Arts located at the border of Pasadena and Altadena, professional piano teachers teach beginner piano students how to create a legato effect by utilizing the right pedal to connect one note to another smoothly. Furthermore, beginner piano students learn to sustain longer notes by rhythmically pressing on the right pedal. The right pedal allows for beginner and advanced piano students to express their musical style and interpretation more eloquently, given proper guidance from their piano teachers.

At the Altadena Academy of Music and Arts, all of the pianos come equipped with the proper pedals. All of the instructors at the Music Academy are specialized in teaching methods that allow beginner piano students to express their musical taste to the absolute best of their abilities. Thus, beginner piano students at the Altadena Academy of Music and Arts will learn to properly use piano pedals through lessons taught by experienced teachers. Certain piano lessons will be dedicated fully to properly learning how to utilize a student’s hands and feet at the same time. This can be a challenging skill to master, which is why professional teachers at the Altadena Academy of Music and Arts have a specific curriculum they follow in order to make the mastering of the pedals as easy as possible for beginner piano students

2) What does the left pedal on a piano do?

The left pedal is often called the soft pedal or una corda pedal. This is the second most used pedal on the piano; some upright pianos and electric keyboards come with just these two most commonly used pedals. The left pedal is used to get an overall softer volume on the piano. Normally, when a key is pushed on the piano, the hammer strikes three strings all for the same note. The left pedal shifts the hammers so that when the key is played, the hammer only strikes one of the strings (una corda) and the volume is softened.

Beginner piano students are often surprised at how much smoother their musical pieces sound once they learn to engage the left pedal through lessons taught by professional piano teachers at the Altadena Academy of Music and Arts. While certain pianos respond differently to the usage of the left pedal, all the pianos at the Music Academy follow a similar pattern of a more muted volume when the pedal becomes engaged. Depending on a student’s or parent’s preferred piano type, the exact functionality of the left pedal will differ slightly, but such a difference will be more apparent in digital or electronic pianos.

All of the pianos at the Altadena Academy of Music and Arts contain three pedals, with the middle pedal having a similar task to that of the left one. Through professional instruction by the Academy’s highly specialized music teachers, beginner piano students will quickly learn to differentiate the need to use the left or the middle pedal. Advanced piano students who have mastered the usage of the various piano pedals will be able to compose music that flows exactly to their taste. The Academy’s teachers will help beginners reach advanced levels of piano playing, and the students will be able to express their taste in music in their own ways.

3) What does the middle pedal on a piano do?

The middle pedal, commonly called the sostenuto pedal, is the most challenging of the three pedals. For grand pianos and electronic keyboards, the middle pedal is somewhat similar to the right pedal. The pianist chooses which keys to sustain by pressing the keys and then pressing the middle pedal. The chosen keys will continue to sound, while all other keys on the piano will continue to play as normal. Because the middle pedal is rarely used, many upright pianos have a different type of middle pedal. For these pianos, the pedal acts as a ‘practice pedal’. Pushing this pedal will greatly deaden the sound so that a student can practice very quietly and not disturb others in the room.

If your electric keyboard does not come with a pedal, you can often purchase an attachment that will plug into the back of your keyboard. Many stores around Pasadena and Altadena carry great quality pedals for electric keyboards commonly used by students taking piano lessons. Examples include the Yamaha Continuous Style Piano Pedal. The pedal attachment will function exactly like the right pedal on the piano. The advantage of having this pedal for your keyboard is that you will get to explore different sounds on the keyboard and get practice with the most commonly used pedal of the piano.

As a reminder, if you take piano lessons at the Altadena Academy of Music, then you will be learning on the finest upright and grand pianos, not electric keyboards. However, such electric options are great for home use and are available at many stores in Pasadena. The Altadena Academy of Music also has a stock of pianos for sale for students enrolled in piano lessons at our Academy.

Wrapping Up

For information about piano lessons at the Altadena Academy of Music located on the border of Altadena and Pasadena and offering world-class piano lessons with experienced piano teachers, please call the Academy of Music Office at (626) 296-0799 or use our email contact form. If you are ready to register for piano lessons, you can also submit the registration form on this page.