Monday, October 04, 2010

Pedal Like a Ninja

Ninja RomanceSometimes my students have better ideas than I do.

A few days ago, one of my students was pedaling accurately but heavily, with a telltale thunka-thunka-thunka every time the pedal went up or down. I told him that with pedaling, you need to hear its effects but without hearing the pedaling itself.

“You mean Ninja pedaling,” he calmly said. “You never hear them coming, but you know when they’ve been around.”

A brilliant analogy.

He tried it. It worked first time. The same correct pedaling, but this time without any extraneous sounds.

Now when any of my students pedal too loudly, I calmly tell them that they need to pedal like a ninja. The same syncopated, rhythmic, or flutter pedaling that they're used to, but silent. Furtive. Invisible.


  1. Anonymous2:04 AM

    I like to use the analogy of a good facial makeup application for pedaling....a good makeup job simply enhances the features- without us noticing the makeup

  2. Brilliant! So much better than the analogy I was told of pedaling like you pedal in a car with a stick shift! I didn't even drive then!

  3. Love the Ninja's esp. the picture...will show this to my six year old who is balking at his piano would seem all little boys need some inspiration from their own play imagination!

  4. Anonymous9:35 AM

    if i were making too much noise with the pedal, my teacher would snatch up the music and flip through it with a searching look on her face. then she would turn to me and say: "when was this scored for piano and congo drums?"

  5. That's awesome! I love it! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Ninja pedaling - AWESOME coining of a phrase! I hope it catches on. You KNOW I'll be using that sometime soon with my own students. Thank, Chris!

    Oddly, in a recording project I did last Fall in collaboration with a tuba-euphonium duo called SYMBIOSISDUO, one of the pieces we premiered entitled Symbiosis (by American composer Chris Sharp) required that I lift the pedal rhythmically and quick enough to produce an audible 'thud' of sorts. (Yes, it's written even pianist's score!)

    Talk about breaking my cover as a Ninja Pedalist!

    Keep up the informative blog, Chris!