Pedal playing is arguably one of the most attractive skills that an organist needs. In order to develop a high level pedal technique, one has to practice pedal playing correctly. However, many people fail to move their pedal technique to the next level because of incorrect practicing habits. This article will focus on the most common mistakes in pedal playing.
- The height and the distance of the organ bench are incorrect . Sitting too low or too high on the organ bench will form an incorrect playing habit. Try to adjust the bench so that your feet should be hovering and touching the pedals but not pressing them. The distance from the keyboards should be adjusted that when you sit normally, your feet should be almost touching the sharp keys.
- Playing with the outside of the foot . This is perhaps the most common of all mistakes an organist can make. I see it over and over again in many of my students as well. Look at your technique and see if this is something you should work on. Try to always play with the inside of your feet. The contact is made with the big toe. When you play with your heel, also depress the pedals with the inside of your heel. Note that you should not lift the part of your foot which is not playing higher than necessary. That way you will avoid unnecessary strain.
- Not keeping your heels and knees together . The previous mistake is actually connected with this one. If you play with the outside of your feet, then naturally your knees are looking outward. On the contrary, try to always keep the knees together, at least for smaller intervals. The heels then should also be connected and both feet would move as one unit. This is crucial when playing pedal scales and other fast pedal passages. Of course, when we have to play wider intervals, it is not possible to keep the heels together. In this case, just try to play with the inside of your feet.
- Not writing in pedaling . Many people find the task of writing in fingering and pedaling boring and too much time-consuming. This is partly because they might be quite good at their piano technique, in which case writing in fingering is not always necessary. However, pedal playing is entirely new skill for any organist. Whether or not he or she has any experience on the piano is not as important for their pedal technique. It only seems time-consuming. In reality, it saves a lot time because once the correct pedaling is written in, then all you have to do is to stick with it.
These are the mistakes that many organists do when playing with their feet. If you are serious about organ playing, try to avoid them.