How to Use the Pedal in Debussy’s “The Little Shepherd”

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Debussy’s “The Little Shepherd” from his Children’s Corner Suite is one of my favorite pieces. It is simple but very poetic. This question comes from a viewer who wants to know the best way to use the pedal in this piece.

The challenge of the piano is that it doesn’t have the expressiveness on a single note that other instruments have. Or does it? Achieving expressiveness on single notes on the piano is certainly possible if you use the pedals correctly. In this article I’m going to share some secrets on how to achieve this.

The way that a pedal effects the note all depends on when you depress it.

If you depress the pedal before you play the note you will get an echoey sound with a boominess after the initial attack.

If you are striving for a more sustained tone you will want to depress the pedal after the initial attack. This will create a more linear sound which is rounder than pedaling before playing the note as described above.

You can complement this effect with the use of the una corda pedal (soft pedal) which offers a more sustained sound since only 2 of 3 strings are initially hit directly making the attach quieter.

The effects really are subtle and might be hard to hear over your computer unless you have good speakers or headphones. But it truly makes the difference in bringing expressiveness to the music. Try these techniques on your piano and let us know the differences you notice.

Thanks again for joining me Robert Estrin (949) 244-3729