How to Get the Pedals to Pump on a Piano

Learning to pump piano pedals takes a certain degree of experience and knowledge of how the pedals work. By using an appropriate technique, you can create a smooth, pumping motion with your foot to effectively prolong the sound of the piano and create reverberation of the notes played.

Most pianos have three pedals that all achieve special effects, while some only have two pedals. The left pedal, called the una corda, softens the sound. The aptly named pedal to the far right sustains all tones played. The middle, or sostenuto, pedal allows you to sustain specific notes.

Place your feet flat on the floor. Curve the toes of the foot up slightly. Use the toes to pump the piano pedals.

Keep the arch of your foot straight and use the heel of your foot as a pivot point. Rock back and forth on your heel pumping the pedal down and up as you go.

Look for pedal markings in the music. If there are no pedal markings, press down on the right pedal at the beginning of each measure or chord change. If there are pedal markings, use the indications in the score to play each marking. You will depress at the beginning of a marking and release and then re-engage at the end of the marking.


If you press a key on the piano and then press the sostenuto pedal afterwards, only those notes depressed before engaging the pedal will be sustained. The sostenuto pedal isplayed with the right foot.

Pedal markings are either lines underneath the notes with a quick uptick in the line where you're supposed to release and depress the pedal halfway. Another method involves writing "Ped." in the score underneath the start point and then using a horizontal squiggly line to indicate how long the pedal should be depressed completely.


Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University: Pedal []
Resources (Further Reading)


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