Jump to content
Mander Organ Builders Forum

Shoes For Pedalling


Vox Humana

What sort of organ shoes do you use?  

44 members have voted

  1. 1. What sort of organ shoes do you use?

    • Organmaster (or similar)
      14
    • Leather sole, leather heel
      10
    • Leather sole, rubber heel
      4
    • Rubber sole, rubber heel
      8
    • Other
      2
    • None
      6


Recommended Posts

I'd be curious to know whether you use special shoes for playing the organ and, if so, what sort.

 

Some months ago I bought a pair of Organmaster shoes. I couldn't get on with them at all. I found the chrome leather (suede) soles and smooth leather heels exactly the opposite of what I wanted.

 

This was no doubt because previously I had always used ordinary, high street shop shoes - usually leather soles with smooth rubber heels, but sometimes thinish rubber soles with minimal tread (which I've found perfectly fine once the tread has worn smooth). I had become accustomed to using my heel as an anchor while pivoting my toes and the smooth leather of the Organmaster shoes meant that my heels simply kept slipping off the keys. I tried roughening the leather, but the heels seemed designed to resist this and promptly smoothed themselves out again the minute I started playing! In the end I had to have them resurfaced with smooth rubber.

 

Conversely the suede soles slide less easily than I would ideally like, though they seem to have got better with wear (or I've got used to them).

 

The best thing about them is that the heels are nice and high (good for playing thirds). I also quite like the light weight (though I'm told your feet can freeze in winter). Whether I'll replace them when they wear out I don't know - probably not.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 57
  • Created
  • Last Reply

I switched to Organmaster shoes a few years ago, having previously used "normal" footwear. Although they took a little while to get used to, the benefits are noticeable. They slide along the pedals smoothly enough, and they feel less cumbersome than ordinary shoes. Accuracy is better too, probably because the Organmaster shoe isn't as wide as an outdoor shoe. And there's certainly a more intimate feel between foot and pedal, which was missing before.

 

Drawbacks? Well mine don't seem to be as hard-wearing as the manufacturers suggest, as the soles have become somewhat detached at various points, probably due to frequent use. But it's easy enough to glue them back I suppose. But it's a real pain having to carry them around with you when you're playing at St Elsewhere - my music case just isn't big enough.

 

Either that or my feet are too big.................... :lol:

Link to post
Share on other sites
I switched to Organmaster shoes a few years ago, having previously used "normal" footwear. Although they took a little while to get used to, the benefits are noticeable. They slide along the pedals smoothly enough, and they feel less cumbersome than ordinary shoes. Accuracy is better too, probably because the Organmaster shoe isn't as wide as an outdoor shoe. And there's certainly a more intimate feel between foot and pedal, which was missing before.

 

I bought organmaster shoes about 8-9 months ago, and found them great. At the time, I was organist (or is that toasterist?) of a church with a Wyvern electronic machine, with a very narrow pedalboard, and the shoes were great. I've now gone to real instrument, with a much roomier pedalboard, and I actually prefer playing in ordinary leather soled outdoor shoes, or just my socks.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I'd be curious to know whether you use special shoes for playing the organ and, if so, what sort.

 

 

 

===================

 

 

Being a bit small in stature where it really matters (leg length), I have always had a problem of toe-weight bias, which can be a problem when it comes to lots of heels and ankle movements.

 

Some year ago, I discovered a pair of shoes made by Clarks, which had a very slippery, synthetic surface on the sole, and with a rounded heel in the vertical-plane, not a U-heel as normal. They were absolutely superb, and I've never come across a better pair of shoes......but they finally died.

 

What made them special was that they had a slightly raised heel, which made things a good bit better in terms of reach.

 

In normal shoes, I can end up struggling a bit with normal U-shaped heels, and things can often feel a bit close to being "out of control".

 

However, I made a recent discovery in the form of sports-trainers, which have a very high-grip sole. I don't enjoy the slightly extended reach of the old Clark shoes, but they are very secure on the pedals due to the material, even though I can't quite scurry around like a rat in a baker's skip, as I could previously.

 

Of course, such attire has its down-side. I'd been up aloft doing a spot of tuning after the recent clean and overhaul, dressed in a pair of jeans, a white T-shirt and with said trainers on my feet.

 

One of the older altar-boys, who remained in church after a weekday mass, grinned at me and said, "Hey! You've turned into a scally!"

 

How reputations are ruined in a trice!!

 

MM

Link to post
Share on other sites

My organ shoes were a sort of formal leather slipper with very thin soles and very light weight. It was no problem to buy them. They were great to play in. But after 40 years they fell to pieces (through neglect - not being polished enough!). Then my troubles began....

 

After looking at lots of shoes - silly prices - army soles -....I bought a Clarks black shoe with leather soles and rubber heels. I had the heels changed to leather and the cobbler obliged to make them Cuban heels as they were rather wide. Then I found the heels were too long and caught on notes so I shortened the front of the heels. The soles were a bit too wide as well, so I trimmed them down as much as I could. .. But I really still couldn't play!!!.. the soles were much too thick - no feeling - one note, two notes couldn't tell.... I spent hours with an electric grinder.....

 

After 18 months I can just about get on with them..

 

I thought about the OraganMeister shoes, but I've found that shoe sizes are meaningless these days - I'd need at least three pairs to try by post!!

Link to post
Share on other sites
My organ shoes were a sort of formal leather slipper with very thin soles and very light weight. It was no problem to buy them.

 

I spent hours with an electric grinder..... 

 

 

 

=============

 

A "certain person" who knows, has just leaned over to me and suggested dance-shoes, which have a suede sole and narrow heels.

 

I'll think I'll give them a whirl and dazzle people.........if I can find the old "Glam Rock" outfit!

 

:)

 

MM

Link to post
Share on other sites
There is a famous dance shoe shop in St Martin's Lane London.... Lots of silver glitter shoes in the window  ...I felt uncomfortable about going inside.... :)

 

Yes - the shop is called Freed I think. I bought some dance shoes from them a few years back, for organ playing, and they were very good. Much better than any previous shoes I'd used. However, the heels were a bit flat - ideally you'd get someone to build them up a bit.

 

However, I have since changed to Organmaster; they are even better - and the heels seem a much better size.

 

JJK

Link to post
Share on other sites
There is a famous dance shoe shop in St Martin's Lane London.... Lots of silver glitter shoes in the window  ...I felt uncomfortable about going inside.... :)

 

===============

 

A "certain person" has just collapsed in a heap of laughter.

 

He assures me that men's dance-shoes are available in black, but one must be careful. Apparently, all dance shoes are foot-hugging things, with height and width fittings; the choice of material critical to certain aspects of performance and wear characteristics.

 

The problem of being a bit short in the leg has just been solved after a fashion, when the "certain person" said, "Why not flamenco shoes, with high-heels?"

 

We must not giggle at this idea, because I have in my possession a wonderful photograph of the late Dr.Reginald-Dixon and myself, and he was wearing just those, plus very large gold earrings.

 

We've opened up a real can of worms here, which could run and run.

 

For instance, did Bach wear high-heeled boots or shoes?

 

Did 18th century organists wear left and right-handed shoes, or had they not been invented then?

 

Was the leather cow-hide, calf or pigskin?

 

Is snakeskin or crocodile a better material for Dupre?

 

Should we all take up dancing, as did Sir George Thalben-Ball, to increase the strength in our ankles and to gain suppleness?

 

Should we be trained as professional footballers and athletes, like the Hungarian organist Istvan Ruppert?

 

The "certain person" just watched me playing the pedals, and I asked if it reminded him of professional dancing.

 

"Yes," he replied, "but I only ever danced to 'Stomping at the Savoy' once!".

 

I give up......back to the Adidas Trainers!

 

:)

 

MM

Link to post
Share on other sites

For instance, did Bach wear high-heeled boots or shoes?

 

Weren't JSB and his colleagues requred to perform in cavalry uniforms complete with riding boots whilst at Weimar?

 

I also seem to remember reading that the prince had a compusory 8.00 bedtime for all his staff - presumably a partial explantion for number of offspring the great man sired...

Link to post
Share on other sites
And "klompen" (wooden shoes) for Sweelinck ...

 

==================

 

Being a Yorkshireman, I couldn't possibly be seen in "klompen".

 

Yorkshire "clogs" are much better, with a leather sole tacked on with nails.

 

I would have thought that those bow-fronted "Klompen" could be quite dangerous, and quite capable of punching a hole through a knee-board if it's made of ply.

 

As a serious contribution to "informed performance practice", then I think the Ligetti "Volumina" at least calls for a pair of "clown shoes" which could press all the pedals at the same time. (Surf-boards and water-skis may be acceptable substitutes).

 

I didn't know Sweelinck needed pedals!

 

B)

 

MM

Link to post
Share on other sites
Looks like a fairly even spread of footwear so far. But 372 views, yet only 13 votes? Come on. Surely the rest of you aren't all manuals only players? I'm genuinely curious about what people use.

 

==============

 

No self-respecting British organist would wear anything other than "Church" shoes....hand fitted of course.

 

MM

Link to post
Share on other sites

Close - my shoes are a pair of kidskin Grenson loafers, not Churches. They were too fragile for the office, are very light and small, with thin leather soles and are really ideal. But they are very worn now and I'm sadly looking around for some replacements.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The voting profile looks a bit different now. Interesting.

 

I had to buy a new pair of shoes the other day and noticed some with smooth plastic soles. I was sorely tempted to buy them, just to see what they would be like to play in. Trouble was, the whole shoe was plastic and that put me off. Anyone tried plastic soles?

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Barry Oakley
My organ teacher, on the subject of shoes, rather pompously declared "you can pedal in army boots if you know how".

 

My good friend, Peter Goodman, former City Organist at Hull, was born with polio, which left him with a club foot. This means that he has always had to wear what might be termed “chunky” footwear, hardly the sleek, supple and sensitive footwear preferred by organists. Peter’s pedalling prowess has never been found wanting. Even now at the age of 85 he has lost none of his nimble footedness. And you should see him pedalling his bike at speed. Quite amazing!

Link to post
Share on other sites
All comes to a horrible end when a new band of cleaning ladies take over the church cleaning and decide to polish the pedalboard to a magnificent high gloss without even asking.

 

FF  :(

 

===============

 

Just be grateful that they didn't try to clean UNDER it.

 

I've been carrying out something of an experiment with footware; anything from steel-toe cap boots to "rabbit slippers" with floppy ears.....all in the cause of organ-playing excellence you understand.

 

1) The Adidas Trainers were pretty good, but I looked like a Scally. 8/10

 

2) Ordinary leather shoes a bit unstable, but fair. 7/10

 

3) Flip-flops proved very bad, with three toe injuries in the one toccata. 2/10

 

4) Socks only proved painful but possible. "Just smell that technique" 4/10

 

5) Steel toe-cap boots were OK for Thiman and Howells, but of dubious value for the Middelschulte "Perpetuem Mobile," (something of an on-going, long-term project) when they threatened to destroy the pedal-board. Many wrong notes also, but no injuries. 3/10

 

6) "Rabbit slippers" with floppy-ears were my personal favourite. They contribute nothing to accuracy, security or longevity, but to watch those big floppy ears dance about in the Bach F-major was just fascinating. 10/10 (for entertainment)

 

I'm currently trying to locate a pair of ex-Michael Schumacher driving shoes (he's got little feet and he's about my size) for the next round of the experiment, which will also include a pair of flat-race jockey-boots, flemenco high-heeled shoes and a pair of fisherman's wellies.

 

On the other hand, I could just take a saw to the organ-bench!

 

MM

Link to post
Share on other sites
Steel toe-cap boots were OK for Thiman and Howells, but of dubious value for the Middelschulte "Perpetuem Mobile,"
I tried steel toe-capped boots when playing Reger's Halleluja! Gott zu loben at a recital last week. The audience commented afterwards on how well the boots complemented the boxing gloves and how much more sense it all made of the music.
Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest delvin146
All comes to a horrible end when a new band of cleaning ladies take over the church cleaning and decide to polish the pedalboard to a magnificent high gloss without even asking.

 

FF   :(

 

One church I know has been trying to bump off the old organist, who bless him, is now rather decreipt, but to his credit, still very willing to offer his services.

 

They've started polishing the organ bench in high pledge, and a notice has appeared "Please do not polish this bench".

 

I imagine it could all come to a rather undiginifed and ungraceful exit from this world.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Roffensis

Grotty old pair of brogues, reheeled/soled in leather that have graced some of the finest pedalboards! I'm loathe to part with them, and shall probably be buried with them, beneath the epitaph "and did those feet".

:(:(

R

Link to post
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.


×
×
  • Create New...