• Michelle Ostrove


The piano was developed around 1700 by Bartolomeo Cristofori in Italy. Many modifications have been made along the way. Throughout the years, there has been as many as six pedals, before finally arriving at its current configuration of three.

Piano pedals are operated by the foot and located at the base of a piano. The purpose of the pedals is to change the tone of the piano in different ways. Let’s talk about the three pedals from left to right.

The first pedal on the left is called the soft pedal (una corda pedal). The purpose of the soft pedal is to do exactly what it sound like, softens the tone/sound of the piano keys being struck.

The middle pedal is called the sostenuto pedal and it holds the notes that are being played. It does not affect future notes being played; it only affects specific chosen notes. This pedal is ordinarily used in organ-like textures to sustain long bass notes below changing harmonies (“pedal point”).

The pedal on the right is the damper pedal, also called the sustain pedal. This pedal prolongs the sound (sustains/holds the sound) of the piano by lifting all of the dampers off the strings. The damper pedal is used to connect the notes with a smooth, connected (legato) sound and giving the music more resonant quality.

In all cases, the end of the pedal should contact the ball of the foot in line with the big toe. The heel of the foot stays on the floor at all times, and the foot remains touching the pedal at all times.

For a keyboard, you can purchase a damper (sustaining) pedal to plug into the keyboard. When learning to play keyboard or piano, you generally have enough to contend with dealing with the keys, reading the music and technique, so the pedals tend to come into play a bit later.

The video attached is Vivian Nguyen playing “Fur Elise”, you can hear the damper pedal being used throughout the song.


What has eight feet and can sing in harmony? A Barbershop Quartet.

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