Revealing the mechanisms at work can give students a new understanding of the pedal and its job inside the piano. This newfound appreciation can then lead to more experimentation and better listening when it comes to pedalling.
Take off your piano’s “clothes”. On an upright piano this means removing part of the casing, on a grand piano it may be useful to place a mirror so that your student can see inside the piano while she is playing.
Talk about the different parts, what your student thinks they’re for and explain how it all works.
For homework, ask your student to draw a picture or diagram of the piano mechanisms and explain how the piano works to a family member.
Pedal Repulsion: Divide and Conquer
By separating pedalling technique from almost all the other elements of good piano playing, your student will be able to better focus of the pedal and conquer her Pedal Repulsion.
Take one small left hand section of a piece your student is currently working on. This could be a chord progression or a slow moving bass line, anything that will be a good representation for the type of pedalling you want her to work on.
Teach her to play it by rote/from memory.
Give your student plenty of instruction on precisely how to pedal during this section and allow her lots of time to practice this during the lesson.
Assign this pedalling exercise for practice this week. Tell her not to pedal any other assignments.
If she is successful with this exercise but still struggles with pedalling in general, repeat the steps with as many different left hand snippets as needed.