When you play organ pedals, how much force should you use? Should you pound the pedals as strongly as possible or should you depress them very gently? I think you can feel what the right answer is and here is why.
If you play the organs very gently, you can control the movements of your feet much better. This comes especially handy when you play in a fast tempo. This is because increased level of control can greatly reduce the number of mistakes.
Another benefit of playing very softly is for the instrument. Gentle movements of your feet will help the instrument to respond more clearly. This way you won't damage the pedal action with your feet.
If you depress the pedals mezzo piano, then the instrument will not make as much mechanical noise. The reasonable amount of action noise can be very interesting especially on mechanical action organs but too much noise can be distracting to listen to.
However, it is not easy to control the force level of your feet. When you play fast pedal passages, the tendency is to get excited and play loudly and strongly. The evidence of that is increased tension in your legs and rather loud pounding on the pedals.
If you use much force when playing with your feet, there is a higher risk of making mistakes. The reason for that comes from the tension in the feet. Also people tend to lift their feet higher into the air which prevents control of the action even more.
I have seen some organists play with much force and after their playing the pedal keys would stick and some ciphers would occur. It is not uncommon that a person might even break the pedal tracker. This is not a pretty sight, especially during the organ recital.
Therefore, I highly recommend you relax your legs and try to play as softly as possible. Use just enough force to depress the pedals and not more. On some organs, you will have to adjust the level of force because some instruments are especially sensitive.
It is best to relax by playing very slowly, even the faster pieces. This way you can begin to feel more secure and increase the speed little by little. However, the amount of force you apply should not be increased.
Apply my tips in your organ practice today. They will help you always stay in control and your instrument will be grateful to you. In return, the sound of the organ will be more natural, you will make much fewer mistakes in your pedal part, and you will be able to perfect your pedal playing.
Do you have some experiences about playing organ pedals with too much force? Or perhaps you discovered your own ways which helped you to apply minimal strength when playing with your feet?
Share your thoughts in comments.
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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.