Robert Estrin - piano expert

How to Use the Pedal on the Piano - Part 2

Another secret from our piano expert Robert Estrin.

In this second video of a multi-part series, Robert gives you a second tip to improve your performance on pieces where a melodic line must come out, such as the second movement of the Beethoven's Pathetique Sonata.

Released on September 3, 2014

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Hello and welcome to VirtualSheetMusic.Com. I'm Robert Estrin with the second in series, The Art of Pedaling on the piano. Last time we discussed how the pedal changes exactly on the downbeat of new harmonies so it clears. It goes up when the downbeat of the new harmonies come.

Now, today we're going to talk about a little bit more nuance of pedaling. And I've chosen the second movement of the Beethoven Pathetique Sonata. First of all, I'm going to play it with no pedal. Now this is a piece you do certainly want to use pedal, but I want you to hear what it sounds like with no pedal at all. And incidentally, it's essential that you practice all your music without the pedal at all so that you know where you need to pedal. In other words, what you can connect with your hands, you must find the most appropriate fingering to make that possible. And by practicing without the pedal, it will make it very clear where you absolutely need the pedal. So I'm going to play the first phrase of the second movement of the Pathetique Sonata Beethoven. Once again, this is without the use of sustain pedal.

OK. It's a little bit dry but you see that I'm connecting the melody and the base. Sometimes the inner line, the 16th notes, I can't quite reach to connect all of those. That's one area the pedal helps. But more than that the pedal can enhance the tone of the melody depending on how you use it. Now if I just use the pedal and put it down as soon as the harmonies change and lift it up and put it right back down again, right on the change of harmonies as described in the first video, it would sound like this.

It's much more, much richer sound, isn't it? But you know, sometimes you want that clarity that you heard without the pedal on some parts of it. In other words, it's not an all or nothing proposition. For example, I can play it now, utilizing the pedal in a similar manner that I just did, but maybe not hold it completely for the entire beat to make the melody come through and make those inner lines not so predominate. Because when you put the pedal down, everything kind of echoes and reinforces itself. So maybe I don't want quite so much on those 16th notes, in which case I can use touches of pedal on the melody and touches of pedal to connect what I can't connect with the hands and end up with something that's a little bit nuances like this.

So now you can begin to understand why pedal markings are not written in the score, because if I were to try to write it in all those little things I was doing, it would be very difficult to follow. And indeed the acoustics of the room, the quality of the sound of the piano, so many things enter into what is appropriate pedaling that you'll find that you're going to pedal differently on different performances of the very same pieces. So the key is to first, number one, practice without the pedal a great deal so you learn what you can connect and come up with appropriate fingering. Number two, practice by changing of the pedal. On the harmonies the pedal lifts up right at the change of the harmony it goes right back down. And then finally, try experimenting, where you use touches of pedal in different places to enhance the tone, to get that more echoey sound in service of your music.

Thanks so much for joining me. Robert Estrin here at Look forward to more in the series on The Art of Pedaling.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

ian on July 30, 2018 @3:57 pm PST
Big thank you from an Aussie Australian, every little bit helps
Robert Estrin - host, on July 31, 2018 @12:55 pm PST
Glad to be of help down under!
ian on July 31, 2018 @3:25 pm PST
Thanks Robert! i thoroughly enjoyed watching your video, your a great teacher wish you were here in Gladstone Qld teaching:Smiley Face)
Kendah on September 8, 2014 @4:49 pm PST
Thanks a lot mr.robert for that's important vedio.
Raj Lalwani on September 5, 2014 @10:57 am PST
Thank you Very Much Sir, for Valuable Pedaling Informatin for Piano Musicians like me...Proud of Virtual Sheet Music for sending me from time to time.
Roman * VSM MEMBER * on September 3, 2014 @6:21 am PST
Dear Robert Estrin,

the new event "Video Transcription" is super. It is very helpfull for people their english is not very well.

With best regards

Roman Duffek
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on September 3, 2014 @8:52 am PST
Glad to know that Roman! We'll keep providing transcriptions for the videos to come, and possible for the already published ones. Please, feel always free to contact me with any questions, suggestions or just ideas you may have, I will be glad to hear from you. Thank you again.
Roman * VSM MEMBER * on September 3, 2014 @5:01 am PST
Dear Robert Estrin,

Im a beginner to learn play the piano. Could You give a tip How to learn the notes?

With best regards

Roman Duffek
Robert Estrin - host, on December 9, 2016 @1:53 pm PST
Here is an article and video on how to learn the notes on the staff:
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