The Piano Pedal Question Most Asked By Kids - "What Does That One Do?"

Cynthia VanLandingham

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Children are often curious about the pedals on the piano when they first come to piano lessons. There are four common questions inquiring, young musicians want to know about the pedals. Here are the first three.

  • “When am I going to use the pedals?"

  • “How come your piano has three pedals and mine only has two?"

  • “Why does your piano have pedals? My keyboard doesn’t have any?"

    Below are definitions of the three pedals on a traditional, acoustical grand piano. From left to right they are the una corda pedal, the sostenuto pedal, and the damper pedal.

    1. The una corda pedal – Una corda means “one string. " It is generally called the “soft pedal" because it adjusts the piano action so the hammers only strike two of the three strings and the volume is reduced.

    2. The sostenuto pedal - Sustains (or holds out) only the strings of the keys that are already pushed down.

    3. The damper pedal - Lifts the dampers so all of the strings continue to sound even as more keys are played.

    The above definitions, however, will need to be simplified a bit for a 6 year old. Teachers usually start by showing young students examples of how using the pedals changes the volume or sound as the keys are played.

    If your child has a keyboard without any pedals you can purchase a sustain pedal for it. This would be a great idea as the sustain pedal is the first pedal students learn to use. If you have an acoustical piano with only two pedals, don’t worry about it. These are the Una Corda Pedal and the Damper Pedal. The Sostenuto pedal is rarely used but is nevertheless nice to have when needed. However your child in piano won’t miss it.

    Here is one more important question children almost always ask about the pedals at their first piano lesson, “How are my feet going to reach them!?"

    For great home piano activities parents can use to help children ages 5 to 11 develop their musical talent, visit Piano Adventure Bears Music Education Resources You’ll find a treasure box filled with piano resources to create an exciting musical adventure for your child - right in your own home! Visit their website and subscribe to their f’ree internet newsletter so you can download f’ree piano sheet music and mp3s of original piano compositions.

    These exciting stories, games, piano lessons, and inspirational gifts feature the Piano Adventure Bears, Mrs. Treble Beary and her new piano student, Albeart Littlebud. Young students follow along with Albeart to learn what piano lessons are all about in a fun way that kids readily understand appreciate. Click here to visit For a wealth of information about piano lessons, visit

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