9 Questions about organ shoes answered

Organist wear shoes designed for playing the organ. Many are surprised to learn this fact. Here are some more questions and answers:

Organist Shoes
OrganMaster Mary Jane Organist Shoes

What are organ shoes?

Organ shoes are special shoes designed to be worn by organist when they are playing the organ.

You may encounter organists that do not wear organ shoes. They may just be wearing their socks or pantyhose. Michael says not wearing organ shoes is bad technique! I have heeded this advice and wear my organ shoes every time I practice. Most organists wear organ shoes when playing the organ.

What makes an organ shoe an organ shoe? The bottom of the shoe is thin and usually made of suede. The suede is smooth creating very little friction between shoe and pedal. This allows for the organist to glide their feet across the pedals. They can also feel the pedals through the thin sole. An organ shoe has a heel. The heel can be ordered in various heights with 1 and 1/4 inch being the most common. An organ shoe is narrower than a regular shoe. Less material means the organist can hold their feet close together when playing adjacent notes.

Why do organ shoes have a heel? It’s not just for looks! The heel makes it easier to play the flat pedals. This is known as heel-toe technique. Also, the heel is sturdy and the organist can use it to play two pedals notes at the same time and still be in position to play a flat key.

Why not wear regular dress shoes? An organist can wear dress shoes if they so choose to and the are comfortable in them. I have not tried this myself but the sole of a regular dress shoe may not be as thin. Also, the bottom of a regular dress shoe will not be made of suede. It the dress shoe has a smooth bottom it may work just as well. It is a personal preference.

What is the problem with tennis shoes? Tennis shoes or other fashionable shoes usually have tread on their soles. The purpose of the tread is to give traction and prevent slipping. This is opposite of what the organist needs! Also, their width could create difficulty in positioning feet next to each other on adjacent pedals.

Why are organ shoes only worn at the organ? Dirt is the enemy of organ shoes. Only wearing the organ shoes at the organ prevents the shoes from picking up dirt. Dirt can scratch the pedals. Dirt can also hinder the sliding of the feet across the pedals. Dirt is no good! Also, the shoes will last longer if only worn for their intended purpose.

Are there different styles of organ shoes? Organ shoes come in different styles for men and women. The men’s version are considered unisex and are sometimes worn by woman if they prefer. The men’s version will look very similar to a regular men’s dress shoe. So similar that you may not be able to tell the difference unless you look at the sole.

Where are organ shoes sold? I purchased my organ shoes from OrganMaster Shoes and wear the Mary Jane style. Allegro Music sells OrganMaster shoes in the UK. Tic Tac Toes also sells organist shoes and I see that they offer many colors. Perhaps my next pair should be purple! Local music stores may also be able to order them.

How long do organ shoes last? I think this depends on how much the organists plays! I have been wearing the same pair since I began taking lessons four years ago. They are still in very good shape, although I admit that they have attracted some cat hair.

You may also like:

Why I’m still going to wear my organ shoes!

How I survived a gas leak
We want smooth mashed potatoes - February 2014 Organ Lesson

17 thoughts on “9 Questions about organ shoes answered”

    • Hi Bev,

      I have only worn Organ Masters shoes, so I am not able to comment about tic tac toes. Hopefully, someone else will come along and be able to answer your question.


  1. Someone posted in this thread that playing the organ pedals with stocking feet was “bad technique .” Can someone explain why it is bad technique or how it is detrimental to either the health of the feet or to the actual pedaling of the organ pedals. I can understand why playing the pedals with bare feet would not be acceptable (bare skin doesn’t slide easily from one pedal to another, possible risk of splinters or slivers, etc.)

    • I think it’s because organ shoes allow for better heel/toe technique. Hopefully, someone with more knowledge than me will come along and reply. My teacher told me to wear the shoes, so I do!

  2. Help, I didn’t know that there were special shoes to play the organ, but I am a beginner and I really could use some help. Since I am a beginner, I wont be looking for organ shoes any thine soon. I took my 1st level of learning how to play the organ and I really enjoyed it. However, I rented a student organ from Keyboard World which I liked a lot. Now I would like to get my own organ, however, I don’t have room for your standard beginers organ which i could buy cheap. So I decided to look for an organ key board and I have no clue an my instructor wants me to buy and organ from them since I am taking my lessons there, and I would but they don have what i can afford and I dont have space for what they do have. I am learning to play on the Lowery organ. Is there a portable organ keyboard out there that I could purchase? I really need some help here, The Lowery way of playing is with the one finger easy touch? If anyone can guide me or put me in touch with someone who had knowledge or the organ, I would be so very happy. I have talked to a lot of people and now I am confused. I sure hope someone reaches out to me to guide me in the right direction,. Send me an email, please, with the word ORGAN in the subject line. Thank you so kindly.

  3. Great blog!! Very interesting…I had absolutely no idea that an organist wears special shoes!!! I have never seen an organist wear them either…they usually played with street shoes on. I shouldn’t say that though because they may have changed into organ shoes after getting to the organ. I’ve only heard the organ played in churches and usually the organ was in the balcony, so what the organist did once in the balcony is beyond me!!! I really love the name of those shoes though!

    • Hi Mary Jane,

      Some organists, in particular those that have a church organist position, may keep their organ shoes next to the console.

      I thought of you when I was writing this post due to the name of my shoe style!


  4. Very interesting Heidi. Had no idea there was so much to know about organ shoes.
    I know you wear them and have a special bag to keep them in.


Leave a Comment