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Holding down the sostenuto pedal


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#1 EllieD

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Posted 10 June 2020 - 07:20

I'm learning another piece from the Peter Dickinson book I bought for Grade 7 - his 3 Satie Transformations. The second Transformation is to be played with the una corda pedal held down throughout. Is there any way of using something else to hold this pedal down so I don't need to use my left foot? Partly because it's quite tiring practicing with one foot holding a pedal down the entire time, but also because there is one bit where I would like to switch rapidly from the sostenuto pedal to the sustain pedal, and it would be a huge amount easier if I could use my left foot for the sostenuto with my right on the sustain. 

 

I did try holding the una corda pedal down with a 5 kilo dumb bell, but even that wasn't heavy enough!

 

Anyone found any successful methods?


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#2 silverlady54

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Posted 10 June 2020 - 17:51

What you suggest as an easier option is the correct way to pedal anyway, right foot for sustaining pedal and left foot for soft pedal or una corda.  After all, at times you will have to use both pedals at the same time.  I wonder who has told you to use the same foot for both pedals?


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#3 EllieD

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Posted 11 June 2020 - 06:40

Sorry, I think I was misleading in my original post, and I have got the title wrong for this thread - sorry!

 

What I want to do is hold down the una corda (left) pedal for the enitire piece, while then having my left foot free for the sostenuto (middle) pedal and my right foot for the sustain (right) pedal.

 

Apologies for my part in the confusion. I'm not responsible for the daft naming of piano pedals which means that two of them have exactly the same name, just in different languages.

 

Please can anyone suggest how to hold down the una corda pedal without having to use my foot?


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#4 fsharpminor

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Posted 11 June 2020 - 08:38

Mine only has two  :(


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#5 Clovis

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Posted 11 June 2020 - 13:37

I have a book that tells you how to do this (ie operate both una corda and sostenuto with the left foot). Will dig it out and report back. The technique seems designed for people with huge feet and sturdy shoes, if I remember correctly. It wasn't easy.


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#6 Hedgehog

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Posted 11 June 2020 - 14:54

I have a book that tells you how to do this (ie operate both una corda and sostenuto with the left foot). Will dig it out and report back. The technique seems designed for people with huge feet and sturdy shoes, if I remember correctly. It wasn't easy.

Yes - I believe I've seen Murray McLachlan demonstrating the technique. Not sure my feet would fit the bill.


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#7 corenfa

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Posted 11 June 2020 - 15:39

I have a book that tells you how to do this (ie operate both una corda and sostenuto with the left foot). Will dig it out and report back. The technique seems designed for people with huge feet and sturdy shoes, if I remember correctly. It wasn't easy.


I just had a go on my piano which has 3 pedals- I am 5'1" and have size 4 feet, and I can hold down both una corda and sostenuto with my left foot if I twist it a bit. I am currently wearing bedroom slippers.
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#8 EllieD

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Posted 12 June 2020 - 06:08

Thank you everyone. I did try holding down both pedals at once with the left foot, but it was very uncomfortable and difficult to get the foot in exactly the right position. Obviously if the piano had been designed by women, for women, we would have put the pedals closer together ... but oh no, the men have it once again!!  :)   And also frustrating as I have a digital piano, so technologically it would be really easy just to have a button to press to make it sound una corda throughout, but that's not an option either...

 

Though I have been experimenting with a few other ideas and think I've come up with something that works for this particular piece. Would still like something to weight that una corda pedal down, though, as I am sure it would be handy for other pieces too.


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#9 Clovis

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Posted 12 June 2020 - 06:54

Have found my book. Declares the use of all three pedals at once to be 'not easy, but possible with sufficient practice' and quotes Percy Grainger as stating it should be possible for any size of foot (even small ones).

 

position LF over left and middle pedal.

1) place heel of foot slightly to the left of the left pedal, with toes facing in the direction of the damper and the heel away

2) first press left pedal down with left side of the foot, the pressure being applied by the ball of the foot

3) apply pressure to the sostenuto pedal with the right side of the foot from the toes, keeping the left pedal firmly depressed

 

There are then some exercises.

 

When I did try this a couple of years ago, using my largest shoes, my foot slipped off the sostentuo and managed to dislocate the pedal. I had to call the tuner to fix it.

 

Yes, designed by men.


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#10 EllieD

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Posted 19 June 2020 - 07:51

Thank you Clovis, I think I will save my feet and my piano pedals the risk of injury, and not try that!!!  :)

 

Meanwhile, I listened to Peter Dickinson playing this piece yesterday on Youtube. There's a few chords that I can't stretch, so I just did the usual playing the lower note and quickly moving to the rest of the chord - turns out Peter Dickinson was also doing exactly the same thing!! That amused me, writing a piece of music that even the composer can't play exactly as written! (The chords are 8ve+2, so no doubt some people would be able to play it "correctly"). Still sounds perfectly good of course.


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#11 AdLibitum

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Posted 19 June 2020 - 13:35

That sounds like the method of operating the clutch and the brake with the heel and toes of the left foot... Something I never dared to try.
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#12 corenfa

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Posted 19 June 2020 - 13:57

That sounds like the method of operating the clutch and the brake with the heel and toes of the left foot... Something I never dared to try.


On the piano, at least you won't die if you get it wrong
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#13 Piedflutey

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Posted 24 June 2020 - 09:28

Gosh, this takes me back Peter Dickinson was my music professor in the late 70s!


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#14 EllieD

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 07:08

Gosh, this takes me back Peter Dickinson was my music professor in the late 70s!

 

Oh wow, you lucky thing!! I am so glad one of his pieces was on the Grade 7 syllabus as I am really enjoying playing the others in his book too! 


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#15 Hildegard

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 08:26

Is it possible to use a soft rubber door wedge to hold down the una corda pedal?


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