The pedals and knee levers can either raise or lower the pitch of a string(s), acting like a guitar player’s fingers for fretting a chord on different strings/frets. For pedal steel, the left-hand’s bar chooses the fret, and the pedals and knee levers manipulate the strings like a puppeteer behind-the-scenes.
For beginner players, some things to think about:
-Do you hold your left foot over pedals A+B (Emmons Setup) while practicing E9, so that you may depress those pedals accurately at anytime? How quickly does your foot get tired? You should be comfortable with your left foot elevated (keep heel on ground) over any pair of pedals for an extended period of time, so that you can accurately depress either the left pedal, the right pedal, or both pedals at any instant.
-Do you practice the smoothness of your pedal and knee lever movements between notes? Can you slowly move the bar down two frets, while using a pedal to simultaneously raise that string up a whole step? If done correctly, you should not hear the original note change pitch at all throughout.
-C6 players: can you use both feet for pedal work? Can you take your right foot off the volume pedal and place it on P8, without changing your volume? And get your right foot back on the volume pedal without changing the volume level?