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Peter Clark
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" My friend, whom I love deeply, who went through every hardship with me,

Enkidu, my friend, whom I love deeply, who went through every hardship with me,

the fate of mankind has overtaken him.

Six days and seven nights I mourned over him." - The Epic of Gilgamesh, Tablet X

 

Well, two of my dear friends who have been with me through many dangers toils and woes are nearing the end of their lives. My organ shoes. I need advice as it is about 10 years now that I have bought any. Organmaster? I've heard mixed reactions to these. I know someone who plays unshod but I have heard this can cause problems (splinters - it happend in Holland) and anyway I wouldn't want to. (Curiously when I was on crutches a few months back I found I could play the pedal line to hymns in my socks - it was less painful than shoes.)

 

Just canvassing opinion really. Thanks.

 

Peter

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I must admit that I have never had specific shoes for playing - probably because I am highly likely not to have them with me when I need them. Since the house organ arrived however I have been much more prone to not playing in shoes at all - I would probably not do this at church however - with the pedal board there being in the state that it is!

 

AJJ

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I must admit that I have never had specific shoes for playing - probably because I am highly likely not to have them with me when I need them. Since the house organ arrived however I have been much more prone to not playing in shoes at all - I would probably not do this at church however - with the pedal board there being in the state that it is!

 

AJJ

 

No, I've never bothered either - but then I've never had any pedal technique to speak of and one thing Romsey has in common with all my previous appointments is that it's like driving a tractor.

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.....but then I've never had any pedal technique to speak of....

 

I feel that you do yourself something of an injustice David - you seemed to manage extremely well at Marlborough College with boots on as I remember!

 

AJJ

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Whether you would get on with Organmaster shoes depends, I think, on how you pedal. I couldn't at all. They have suede soles and leather heels, which means that the soles have a measure of "grip" on the keys and the heels none at all. This is exactly the wrong way round for me since I am used to anchoring my heel and sliding my toes. With the leather heel I just could not keep a heel on a note at all. In the end I took the shoes to a cobbler and had the heels replaced with smooth rubber (having first asked him to put suede ones on and been advised against it since they would rub off). The suede soles I don't mind, but I think I would have been happier with leather.

 

Everything else about the Organmaster shoes I like: there is a good depth of heel (they really score here over high street shoes), they are lightweight and the fit is close and snug.

 

However, if I ever have to buy organ shoes again, I will probably do what I had always done before and go for ordinary high street shoes with leather soles. I would then get a cobbler to build up (or replace) the heels so they are 1¼ inches deep and surface them with smooth rubber.

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I feel that you do yourself something of an injustice David - you seemed to manage extremely well at Marlborough College with boots on as I remember!

 

AJJ

 

As I am led to understand it, the organ tuner (Stephen Cooke) had to replace a broken tracker just a few days later...

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I use two pairs of organ shoes on a regular basis: a dancing shoe which fits snug and is very flexible, and has a thin sole and a large (although tapering heel) and the other pair which is a pair of Organmaster shoes. I find that I can feel pedal notes better through the sole of the dancing shoe and sides (I can't feel much through the sole of the Organmaster shoe), but I prefer the heel of the Organmaster shoe as it doesn't taper and is easier to locate pedals without the danger of slipping off a pedal. I found myself heeling (for want of a better expression - no booze involved!) more after purchasing the Organmaster shoes. The Organmaster shoes aren't as flexible though, which I find to be a downside.

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I'm currently on my first pair of Organmaster shoes, and they are the best I've ever had. I hadn't thought about whether they suited my style of pedalling as noted above, but they are comfortable and easy to feel with. However, DO NOT get the soles even remotely damp (eg go for quick walk outside without changing, or as in the case of one church, a lavatory with a particularly wet floor).

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I've just bought ballroom dancing shoes to replace my old organ shoes. They have suede soles and heels (normal profile heels about 1 inch high - not latin heels for salsa). I find suede soles are great - they're much quieter on the pedals than conventionally cured leather soles, they slip or grip as you wish and give a lot better feel through the soles. They're also really light, which helps. Well fitting dance shoes also make your feet much smaller - they're surprisingly tardis-like and I'm now less envious of my 5'2'' organ teacher's dainty little feet (who I think also wears dance shoes when playing).

 

However, I've got to say that I play just as inaccurately wearing heavy brougues as I do wearing lightweight dancing shoes.

 

Don't know about you but I really don't like people playing with heavy shoes on the (relatively new) pedalboard at my church - I don't want the pedals getting scuffed, worn or dirty unnecessarily quickly! Is this just me being really anal? It just seems good manners to wear clean shoes that won't wear the pedalboard unecessarily.

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Don't know about you but I really don't like people playing with heavy shoes on the (relatively new) pedalboard at my church - I don't want the pedals getting scuffed, worn or dirty unnecessarily quickly! Is this just me being really anal? It just seems good manners to wear clean shoes that won't wear the pedalboard unecessarily.

 

I'd be the same in your sitation - even here at home I keep a close eye on my two daughters when they decide to have a go though the problem here is more often sticky fingers on the keys. I once played a new organ ('can't remember where) with a notice on the console instructing players to wear socks or organ shoes but not on any account outdoor shoes.

 

AJJ

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I just wear socks, but then I really don't have any pedal technique, and I'm slowly trying to wean myself onto shoes with heels so that I might develop some.

 

This morning it was socks. The convention in our church is that the organist is the first (aside from the ministers, obviously) to receive communion, not least because our back-to-front ordering means that the organ is right next to the altar.

 

Unfortunately, the retired priest forgot, so I had to take my turn about tenth in line. Which wouldn't be a problem, except that my rather discoloured socks were hence presented to the entire congregation, rather than simply facing the organ.

 

Ah well.

 

(I'm still smarting from being told by a nine year old that wandering around the church without shoes is "disrespectful to Our Lord".)

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" My friend, whom I love deeply, who went through every hardship with me,

Enkidu, my friend, whom I love deeply, who went through every hardship with me,

the fate of mankind has overtaken him.

Six days and seven nights I mourned over him." - The Epic of Gilgamesh, Tablet X

 

Well, two of my dear friends who have been with me through many dangers toils and woes are nearing the end of their lives. My organ shoes. I need advice as it is about 10 years now that I have bought any. Organmaster? I've heard mixed reactions to these. I know someone who plays unshod but I have heard this can cause problems (splinters - it happend in Holland) and anyway I wouldn't want to. (Curiously when I was on crutches a few months back I found I could play the pedal line to hymns in my socks - it was less painful than shoes.)

 

Just canvassing opinion really. Thanks.

 

Peter

 

I use a pair of Loake skip-ons with leather soles and rubber heels. The soles are very thin, and there is virtually no welt. They are the sort of shoes I wouldn't be seen dead in in the street - but then, aren't all organ shoes?

 

Don't attempt Organmasters if you need very wide fitting shoes. I tried them. but even their wide fitting 9½'s were far too narrow for me - as in, I couldn't get them on.

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(I'm still smarting from being told by a nine year old that wandering around the church without shoes is "disrespectful to Our Lord".)

 

Mind you I had a similar comment some years ago from a long past Sub Dean of Lincoln when he pointed out that sandals were inappropriate garb (even under a cassock in high summer - when at least one other singer was wearing shorts) for midweek evensong in the Cathedral.

 

AJJ

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I'm currently on my first pair of Organmaster shoes, and they are the best I've ever had. I hadn't thought about whether they suited my style of pedalling as noted above, but they are comfortable and easy to feel with. However, DO NOT get the soles even remotely damp (eg go for quick walk outside without changing, or as in the case of one church, a lavatory with a particularly wet floor).

 

Yes, I've had the same problem when the soles get damp, and now change into outdoor shoes if I need to walk away from the console.

 

I also agree with Nick Bennett's observation that the Organmaster shoes are quite narrow as I've had pupils with wide feet who've found them narrow and I was advised by the UK importers when I asked for a narrow size for a pupil who said she had very narrow feet to take the standard fitting instead, which turned out to fit perfectly.

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Mind you I had a similar comment some years ago from a long past Sub Dean of Lincoln when he pointed out that sandals were inappropriate garb (even under a cassock in high summer - when at least one other singer was wearing shorts) for midweek evensong in the Cathedral.

 

AJJ

The Second Coming had better not be scheduled for Lincoln Minster then...

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The comment about the width of Orgenmasters is quite right. Either Americans have unusually narrow feet, or feet on this side of the Atlantic are unusually wide; either way, even the wide fitting in Organmasters just doesn't seem to be wide enough.

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Over the years, I've tried all sorts of footwear (barring stilettos) and I still find nothing more comfortable than bare feet with a thickish pair of socks. I don't find the lack of a heel a problem at all, I can feel where I am much better, and sliding along the keys is much easier. I think it's a lot to do with how arched your feet are? Certainly, I feel it's much more comfortable and accurate, after all, how many of us play with gloves on? And as for any comments from incumbents, I've always dealt with that by telling them that if they don't like it, they can play themselves....I don't need comments on foot fashion from a man in a frock!

I wonder, though, what was worn in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries? Did shoes have thick soles then? Or heels built up? Not, I suppose, something much written about in the learned treatises of the time, but it would be interesting to know.

Maybe there's some record somewhere of an organist dying, like Lully, of blood poisoning from a splinter in the foot......?

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Don't know about you but I really don't like people playing with heavy shoes on the (relatively new) pedalboard at my church - I don't want the pedals getting scuffed, worn or dirty unnecessarily quickly! Is this just me being really anal? It just seems good manners to wear clean shoes that won't wear the pedalboard unecessarily.

 

Hi

 

well I for one agree with you!

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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I wonder, though, what was worn in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries? Did shoes have thick soles then? Or heels built up? Not, I suppose, something much written about in the learned treatises of the time, but it would be interesting to know.

I think the general wisdom is that they didn't use their heels in those days (except towards the end of the period). It's an interesting question though. I wonder what bearing footwear fashions had on pedalling. If you left your spurs on, did you get a free Zimbelstern? :P

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