organ shoes Archives - Heidi Bender

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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? 

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April 2014 Organ Lesson and my first YouTube video

February 4, 2014

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.

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