Tag Archives: pedal

Pedaling for Hymns

pedals1Pedaling is very fascinating to me.

I remember being told by a teacher to change the pedal every time a chord changed. That was very good, basic advice.

When playing traditional gospel songs (ie: Power in the Blood), you will have your three basic/primary chords: I, IV, and V.

If you apply the basic principle of pedaling for every chord change, you won’t pedal overly much.

But if you add anything remotely extra, like any stepwise in either hand or even changing bass octaves within a measure (like moving from Bb to D on a Bb chord), you will want to lift the pedal more often.

I always try to listen for any “muddling” and negate that by lifting the pedal more frequently.

Any stepwise I usually “flutter” the pedal or “half-pedal”. Just a quick lift to clear the air.

Overall, I would rather have less pedal when playing hymns. If they are a little dry that’s ok. A heavy pedal just causes muddles and blurs everything together.

Oh, and while I’m on the subject, basic pedaling technique includes the following:

1. Heel on the floor (always, at all times)

2. Play then pedal (have the pedal up when playing the first note(s) of a new chord, then put the pedal down)

Anything you would add? I love hearing your comments!

This post is part of a series I’m doing this month called “On-the-Go Pianist.” Click here to see all the posts!

Balancing the Accompaniment

Have you ever listened to a song and had trouble hearing the vocals because the accompaniment was too loud? A couple weeks ago, I watched a YouTube video where the instruments overpowered the vocals. It was very distracting to say the least. I started thinking about how we as accompanists can balance the accompaniment properly.

Of course, the sound system will play a part in this balancing act.  A good sound man understands that the accompaniment should be softer than the vocals (or other instruments, in case of an instrumental special). If you are accompanying without a sound system, you can properly balance the accompaniment using these following options:

1.       Listen. While this option might seem obvious, make sure you can hear the person whom you are accompanying.

2.       Use the soft pedal. This is a great option especially if no sound system is available.

3.       Play with a lighter touch. Maybe your piano does not have a soft pedal. Using a light touch on the keys will help the accompaniment sound softer.

4.       Play fewer notes. This option would be the last resort, but it works. Playing chords in half notes would produce less noise than rapid broken chords in sixteenth notes.

The word accompaniment carries the idea of supporting or complementing. My goal when I accompany is to support and complement other musicians, not overpower them.

Do you have any thoughts on this subject? I would love to hear from you!