Pedal distances

  • Member
    Angela Biggs on #77037

    Hello all,

    While in Boston this weekend for a vocal pedagogy workshop, I’ve arranged for a (lever) harp lesson. I’m also going to have the chance to sit down at a pedal harp for the first time. I just want to learn how to operate the pedals.

    Because I specifically want to learn the mechanics of pedal operation, I’m trying to go in already solid on the theoretical part. To this end, I’ve been sitting in a chair and moving my feet as I recite the pedal order. I’m finding that my feet are covering a semicircular path of about 20 inches in diameter. Is that about right, way too much, not enough?

    I don’t want to inadvertently develop muscle memory that is completely out of whack with reality, but I will likely have only have one chance to absorb this information, and I want to make the most of it. I’m trying to go in with at least the beginnings of a connection between my brain and feet, so that I know roughly where to go for the correct pedals to set the harp in a particular key.

    As always, thank you. 🙂

    Tacye on #77038

    That is about right – my A and D are about 22 inches apart and the E maybe 6 inches forward of the A.

    Angela Biggs on #77039

    Thank you, Tacye!

    patricia-jaeger on #77040

    If you have a printed copy of the “circle of fifths” diagram, draw the harp “pedal diagram” symbol that pedal harpists know, next to all of the names of key signatures on that paper, beginning with middle C at the top and working your way down. Until you have your own or a rented pedal harp, those floor exercises you mentioned are also good, Try making seven banana-shaped pieces of cardboard (from empty cereal boxes or whatever you have), labeling each with a large letter name (C and F in red and black) and place them on the floor where your feet will go on real pedals eventually. As you practice studies or pieces that have a few accidentals within the music, say out loud the pedal change required, such as “B flat”, “G sharp,” ” D natural” and so on, as your foot moves onto the correct cardboard. These visual, physical, and aural clues will give your brain an advantage when you begin to use a harp with pedals more regularly.

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