Many of my organ students ask me what is the secret to a perfect pedal technique? They want to know how they can achieve the ability to play intricate pedal lines, pedal scales, arpeggios, even chords with their feet with confidence and precision.
I always tell them that it is quite simple. Right from the beginning you have to use pedal preparation. Just as with finger preparation, this technique helps to prevent mistakes in the pedal line.
Moreover, it gives you the feeling of confidence. In other words, if you use pedal preparation, very soon you will know without looking at the pedal board where any given note is.
The way we use pedal preparation quite straightforward. When you have finished playing one note with the left foot, slide it right away to the next note of the same foot. Don't press it yet, but wait for its turn. The same is done with the right foot.
This movement should be done with one quick, precise, and clear motion of the foot. Note that I use the word "slide", not "lift". when you slide, then your foot is touching the pedal board. This is very important: keep your feet in contact with the pedal board at all times.
Although this technique is quite simple, I know that in reality not too many people use it. Very often they practice the pedal line, or an entire piece of music without even thinking about pedal preparation.
This is largely because of laziness. It is easier to play the piece of music a few times through without giving attention to such detail, as pedal preparation. It such case, an organists may just go though the motions, their technique may not improve much. On the opposite, if we practice and don't pay attention to details, then we continually form bad habits. In other words, if we practice this way, we may never achieve the same level of superb pedal technique that masters have.
I've seen high level organists who constantly use pedal preparation even be able to play in very fast tempo and their feet arrive to the desired pedal key just a moment before they have to play it. Believe me, both the view and the sound of such performance was very exciting, stable, solid, and confident.
The good news is that you really have to think about pedal preparation only for some months. Later, you will form a good habit of playing the correct way. Your feet will instinctively move to the next position instantly.
By the way, if you want to perfect your pedal technique, check out my Pedal Virtuoso Master Course - a 12 week training program designed to help you develop an unbeatable pedal technique while working only 15 minutes a day practicing pedal scales and arpeggios in all keys.
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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Don't have an organ at home?
Download paper manuals and pedals, print them out, cut the white spaces, tape the sheets together and you'll be ready to practice anywhere where is a desk and floor. Make sure you have a higher chair.