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September 30, 2014

Why I’m still going to wear my organ shoes

My cat Buster with my OrganMaster organ shoes

Today’s post is about organ shoes. If you are not aware that [most] organists where special shoes referred to has organ shoes, check out this post for more information on them.

I currently have two videos posted to YouTube. The one for “O Love, How Deep” received this comment:

It’s been 2 months, but I still think about that comment. Was I duped by my teacher into wearing organ shoes? Would I play better with out them?

Should I be taking advice from Carol98? no photo, no videos, no info, just a random comment. So probably not!!!!!!!

Carol98 doesn’t have any YouTube videos demonstrating the “MUCH easier” promise. To be fair, everyone is entitled to their opinion. Maybe it is easier for some to play without shoes. I tried it for a few minutes and did not enjoy it. It would take too much relearning for me to play without shoes. Plus, Michael (my teacher) told me from the start that playing without organ shoes is bad technique.

The comment broken down:

“Regardless what your teacher tells you” – This implies that my teacher doesn’t know what he is talking about. It is very unlikely that Carol98 knows my organ teacher.

My cat Buster with my OrganMaster organ shoes

My cat Buster with my OrganMaster organ shoes

“its MUCH easier playing the pedals without the shoes” If this is true why do so many organists wear shoes? Have we all been brain washed into wearing shoes because our teachers told us to? Then that same knowledge got passed on to the next generation of students? Maybe it really is easier for some. If playing without shoes was easier then it sure seems like professional organists that play worldwide would not be wearing shoes.

When I want to the 2013 Region V AGO convention I met an organist that did not wear organ shoes. This seemed to be due to the large size of his feet. Ironically, he won a pair of OrganMaster shoes at the convention! I wonder if he’s made the switch.

“you will be able to feel the pedals and not press the wrong one” – I can feel the pedals through the thin soles of my organ shoes. My wrong note issues are not because of the shoes.

“Try it for a week and you will never go back” – I like wearing the shoes. changing my routine would likely not help at this point in my learning. I don’t see any benefit in trying to play without shoes for a week. It seems like that approach would be a set back.

I feel better now that I’ve gotten this off my chest. I can stop thinking about it now. I will continue to wear my organ shoes because I want to and feel that is the best choice for my learning.

What do you think about the comment?  If you are an organist, shoes or no shoes? 

You may also like:

April 2014 Organ Lesson and my first YouTube video

May 31, 2014

My Faith Has Found a Resting Place with my cat (video)

Cat Kilala on organ bench

My cat, Kilala, sitting on the organ bench.

My cats like to watch me practice the organ. We have 3 cats, but Kilala is that cat that spends the most time with me on the organ bench. Back in September of 2013, I made a video while practicing “My Faith Has Found a Resting Place”.

Before I started making videos, I did not realize how often she looked up at me while I was playing. This video is not in the best focus. The goal of the video was to be able to play it back and hear how I sounded. Kilala looks very cute even when blurry. Please be sure to watch until the end to see what she does!


If you watch the first video that I posted to YouTube, you will notice a huge difference in the sound of this electronic Saville organ compared to the pipe organ at Trinity Episcopal church. The old electronic organ sound does not match that of a pipe organ.

Thanks for watching! If you like it, share it with your friends.

April 10, 2014

April 2014 Organ Lesson and my first YouTube video

Last Saturday, my organ lesson did not start out very well. It felt disastrous to me! I choose to start with the hymn, “At the Name of Jesus”. I felt nervous performing for Michael. I also had to adjust to this pipe organ as it had been 8 weeks since my previous lesson. I played wrong notes and had trouble with the syncopation. I had hoped to get a passing mark on this hymn but I had too many issues and it will remain on my assignment list.

The next hymn “O Love, How Deep” went much better. I enjoy playing this hymn. The coordination needed for the pedal line was a challenge and learning it felt like an accomplishment. Before moving on, I asked Michael to record me playing it. This recording is below!!!

My first ever YouTube video.

It is not perfect.

I was scared to post it knowing that it could have been better. My friends and co-workers have given me so much encouragement and support since viewing it that I am realizing it is okay that it is not perfect. This video represents how I played for those 30 seconds.

Also, Michael pointed out that even the video was not flawless, I kept going. I didn’t stop or hesitate. I did not continue to play subsequent wrong notes. I kept moving and found the right notes. We will all have rough spots in life. It’s how we get back on track that is important.

The rest of the lesson went fairly well. I received a passing mark on “Good Christian Friends, Rejoice”. I still need to work on “Berceuse”. I have improved enough on the prelude of Prelude and Fugue in F Major (BWV 559), that my next challenge is to play it faster and work towards a performance tempo. We ran out of time and only spent a minute or two on the Fugue.

Michael declared that I am capable of playing every hymn in the United Methodist hymnal. He means the technical aspect. The harder challenge is learning the art of playing each hymn. I was assigned two new hymns: “Crown Him with Many Crowns” and “Be Thou My Vision”.

I hope you enjoy the video! Thanks for watching it.