If you play the organ, whether that be the pipe or digital organ, you know the important role that pedals play in producing music. For those who want to become more proficient at playing pedals, one of the top pieces of advice we can give is to play pedal scales! These can help you increase the flexibility of your ankle and fine-tune your pedal playing technique. However, we’ve found that many organists don’t bring pedal scales into their daily practice routine because they don’t know how to choose the most efficient way of playing them. This is a mistake! Today, we are going to share the traditional way of playing pedal scales.
Keeping Knees and Heels Together
Traditionally speaking, organ players keep their knees and heels together to play pedals. In other words, your feet should move together as one unit. For some, this isn’t feasible, and that’s alright. We suggest simply trying to keep the heels together while playing pedal scales. This technique can help you find the most efficient method of pedaling.
Focus on Playing Legato
In order to learn smooth transitions from one note to another, it’s important to play with a more legato touch. This means that you should not allow any breaks in between the notes. While this is easily accomplished with fingers, it is easier said than done when it comes to using your feet. If you find yourself struggling to do this, don’t stress. With time and practice, it will become easy and second nature to you.
The most efficient way to pedal is to use the toe-toe-heel-heel technique. In order to do this, play the first note with your left toe, then the second with your right. The third note should be played with the left heel, then the fourth with your right. Once those four have been played, start again with the left toe and repeat the pattern. When you practice your descending scales, just reverse the pedaling. Mastering this technique will help you keep the heels and knees together while teaching you to play with the inside of your feet.
Adjust Your Pedaling When Needed
Occasionally, you will need to adjust the pedaling to account for accidentals. This is because we cannot play the sharp keys with our heels. Also, there are a few scales that will require you to start playing with your heel. In these situations, you should start pedaling from the middle of the scale and work your way downwards from there. For those keys with three consecutive sharps or flats, such as F sharp major, you will need to slide from one sharp to the next with the same toe. This is allowed!
Steady Work and Progress
If you begin at a slow tempo and take the time to perfect one major and one minor scale per week, you will be proficient at pedaling in no time. Aim towards playing each scale with a fluid legato and make sure that each note sounds even. The next week, add another pair of scales until you reach about twelve weeks. By then, you should be able to play all of them! At that point, just run through them in your daily practice. If you keep with this practice and technique, your ankles will become much more flexible. You will start to notice an improvement in your pedaling in no time at all.
Viscount Digital Organs
When looking for a digital organ to practice on at home, nothing quite matches the technology and precision of a Viscount Organ. Contact us today to learn how we can help, and we know that you will be a pedal expert in no time!