Tips on How to Use Piano Pedals Correctly

Last updated: Jan 15, 2021

At some point we have wondered what piano pedals are for and we have not known exactly how to solve our doubt. Let's start by defining that a pedal is a device that exists to modify or alter the sound that a piano produces. Normally a piano has three pedals, but at the beginning of the 20th century they made it with only two.

The piano pedals are the devices with which the musician can alter the sound produced by the instrument. Younger pianists probably only know pianos with three pedals. In its early stages, the experimentation of manufacturers to achieve the best sound led to the development of four and five pedals. Subsequently, and until the early twentieth century, the usual number of pedals was two, the resonance pedal and the string pedal, located to the right and left respectively.

Each of the pedals has a different way of modifying the loudness, something that also varies between grand pianos and vertical pianos. However, its operation is the same: pressed with the toes and without lifting the heel off the floor.

So, once you learn the basics of the keyboard and the basic techniques of playing the piano, the next step is to learn how and when to use the piano pedals, in order to add depth and feeling to any piano piece. So here are our Tips on Using the Piano Pedals Correctly:

The pedals should be pressed as follows: the sustain with the right, the soft pedal with the left. The sostenuto pedal, although almost never used, replaces the sustain pedal from time to time, when so it is used also with the right foot.

Place your feet on the floor when there are passages where you do not need to use the pedals. If you have difficulties to do so, move your seat back a little so that you are more comfortable (but don't do it too far back). You can also slide your feet under the pedal to avoid accidental pressure.

When you have an indication of using a pedal, place your heel on the floor, directly in front of the pedal. Press the tip down, pressing the pedal down with your foot. Your heel should never separate from the ground when you press a pedal. When you release a pedal, make sure you do it gently. If you lift your foot very fast, you will cause a kick with the pedal that we do not want when we are playing.

What it does is that it lifts the chokers of the strings, some pieces of wood covered with felt that turn off the vibration of the strings.

This pedal does not mean that if you play hard and press it it will sound soft.

This pedal keeps the dampers on when they were lifted when the sustain pedal was pressed, allowing staccato notes to be made regardless of the note being held.

Extra Tips


When you play a written piece, be sure to follow all the indications of the pedals and not turn off or remove them when the piece is not marked.