Jump to content
Mander Organ Builders Forum

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

  • 4 weeks later...
  • Replies 57
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

As a university organ scholar, I was always skint and used whatever I had on at the time... trainers (when feeling sloppy) Doc Martins when I wasn't!

 

Was fine with any Bach work, but the pedals came off worse when I was attempting the pedal solo on the Paganini Variations, as this requires double foot glissandos.

 

All the best,

 

MB

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Andrew Butler

I have a vague memory that George Thalben-Ball used to wear dancing shoes, but I may be wrong.

 

The best bit of pedalling I did recently was when I went to practice at church and forgot to change out of bare feet in sandals. The sandals were hopeless, so I took them off, played in bare feet and was amazed at the accuracy I achieved!

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 year later...

I hope you will not mind me exhuming this thread.

 

Is playing in socks really unacceptable?

 

We bought Lawrence a pair of recommended dance shoes (all leather, narrow, hardly any welt, raised heal &c) when he was 12 and going to the Oundle 'Pulling Out The Stops' course because we were told he had to have them. His size 4s cost £50.

 

The next time he needed to wear organ shoes he was size 6. £50 seemed like quite a lot of money for a pair of shoes he wore for less than half an hour. And by that time he was used to playing in socks.

 

He still plays in socks. This brought coruscating criticism from a 'judge' at an RCO Young Organists Performance Festival, and he has again been told recently that he MUST wear shoes! When he was invited to the play at the Paris Conservatoire the professor insisted he wear shoes.

 

On the other hand (or foot) he plays all his services in socks, and took both the Oxford Organ Scholarship Awards Competition (successfully) and ARCO exams (the jury is out but a resit is probably pending) and nothing was said.

 

Should organists wear shoes and, if so, why? I mean, are there real, undeniable, inescapable practical advantages to wearing shoes or is it just 'the done thing'?

 

Best wishes

 

barry

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Lee Blick
I hope you will not mind me exhuming this thread.

 

Is playing in socks really unacceptable?

 

We bought Lawrence a pair of recommended dance shoes (all leather, narrow, hardly any welt, raised heal &c) when he was 12 and going to the Oundle 'Pulling Out The Stops' course because we were told he had to have them. His size 4s cost £50.

 

The next time he needed to wear organ shoes he was size 6. £50 seemed like quite a lot of money for a pair of shoes he wore for less than half an hour. And by that time he was used to playing in socks.

 

He still plays in socks. This brought coruscating criticism from a 'judge' at an RCO Young Organists Performance Festival, and he has again been told recently that he MUST wear shoes! When he was invited to the play at the Paris Conservatoire the professor insisted he wear shoes.

 

On the other hand (or foot) he plays all his services in socks, and took both the Oxford Organ Scholarship Awards Competition (successfully) and ARCO exams (the jury is out but a resit is probably pending) and nothing was said.

 

Should organists wear shoes and, if so, why? I mean, are there real, undeniable, inescapable practical advantages to wearing shoes or is it just 'the done thing'?

 

Best wishes

 

barry

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
I hope you will not mind me exhuming this thread.

 

Is playing in socks really unacceptable?

 

Should organists wear shoes and, if so, why? I mean, are there real, undeniable, inescapable practical advantages to wearing shoes or is it just 'the done thing'?

 

Best wishes

 

barry

 

Difficult to answer, but from a practical point of view (action, size of pedals) shoes provide reassurance - but ordinary shoes, not fancy or trainers. Certainly for a growing foot, an ordinary shoe without a thick sole is perfectly adequate. The technique of playing with the tap of the toe is only possible (I am sure) with such foot wear. Popping 5 associated lengths of toe into a shoe must surely make them play as one from the ankle. We require the independence of the fingers for keyboard work, but only a foot for pedaling - hence one sensation for the leg is necessary, I aver. I will not create a stir about toes and heels. But what I will say is that much of the music a student plays at the beginning is Bach's group of 'short' Preludes and Fugues and other obvious teaching material from Pachelbel and others when heels are not necessary. If they are used, slurs and articulation become complicated and lead to difficulties that are hard to eradicate. The youth of today mostly wear shoes not entirely geared to playing the organ and thus take them off as it feels better I imagine. But, of course (and often am!) entirely wrong.

 

There is a rather practical request though, for shoes. I once had to play for a summer wedding (or to be exact, a solo at the Signing). When I arrived to rehearse a little, there was a most pungent odour surrounding the console. Of course, when the resident organist came to play the other sections of the ceremony, I knew why even the nearby flowers were having a job to hold their own in the perfume stakes. He sat and and took off his shoes and then took also off his socks. To this day I just can't even think about pedaling in such a way and the above request for information brings it all back.

 

Practically, a nice pair of shoes which are kept for playing is a happy solution. The feet feel immediately 'at home'. Playing a multitude of different instruments (including the French Baroque boards) certainly is helped by such. Then there are the huge difficulties that will arise when idiosyncratic couplers, appels and other down-below-paraphernalia are provided and some considerable pressure is required to activate them all. Some toe pistons that I know in this country would become part of Reflexology and some mechanical combination levers would inflict lasting damage. No. Shoes are necessary. Absolutely.

 

All the best,

Nigel

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Lee Blick

I have annoyingly wide feet and don't think I would be able to get into a pair of organmasters. I use a pair of slippers. That way the my feet can spread due to the reasonably stretchy material whilst maintaining a small enough footprint.

Link to post
Share on other sites

How does one play the Thalben Ball pedal variations without shoes? How does one manage the four-part chords in Dupré's G minor Prelude without them?

 

I can sympathise with Nigel about the whiff. Piu fragrante - with the accent on the PEEOOOOOOOOO!!!! B)

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Lee Blick
How does one play the Thalben Ball pedal variations without shoes? How does one manage the four-part chords in Dupré's G minor Prelude without them?

 

I can sympathise with Nigel about the whiff. Piu fragrante - with the accent on the PEEOOOOOOOOO!!!! :ph34r:

 

I think I saw Simon Preston play it on the RAH organ wearing a pair of natty moccasins years ago.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know, Vox.

 

I'm ignorant. That's why I ask.

 

After all, various respondants to this thread seem happy to play in anything from Adidas trainers to Dr Martens I don't know whats. Would GTB or Dupré be more or less possible in them? Or slippers?

 

What is it about shoes that makes playing those pieces possible and/or why would they be imposible without shoes? I'm sure you're right (as having read your many posts over the last year I have a great deal of respect for you) but I don't know why you're right.

 

Best wishes

 

barry

 

How does one play the Thalben Ball pedal variations without shoes? How does one manage the four-part chords in Dupré's G minor Prelude without them?

 

I can sympathise with Nigel about the whiff. Piu fragrante - with the accent on the PEEOOOOOOOOO!!!! :ph34r:

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
What is it about shoes that makes playing those pieces possible and/or why would they be impossible without shoes?

 

Best wishes

 

barry

 

In a word - weight. In two words - constant weight. In three words - controlled constant weight.

 

My teacher, famed as the great pedalist(er?) of all time (?) walked with more of a boot than a shoe. Not the largest of feet had he, but would play without changing them. He said that if they were comfortable for walking they were comfortable for playing and pulled our legs for having to spend 5 minutes of a class changing shoes before playing. But his shoes were perfect for both activities. The choice of today is so extraordinary. Being kewl on the street is not often providing the most sensitive shoe for the Sweelinck Psalm.

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 :ph34r:

 

 

And the organ bench too - I nearly slid off and eventually had to ask the dears not to polish anything to do with the organ ever again!

 

Peter

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Barry Williams
How does one play the Thalben Ball pedal variations without shoes? How does one manage the four-part chords in Dupré's G minor Prelude without them?

 

I can sympathise with Nigel about the whiff. Piu fragrante - with the accent on the PEEOOOOOOOOO!!!! :ph34r:

 

There used to be an old film of GTB playing his variations at the Festival Hall. The camera was behind the bench. The heels of his shoes were built up slightly.

 

Barry Williams

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Patrick Coleman
In a word - weight. In two words - constant weight. In three words - controlled constant weight.

 

My teacher, famed as the great pedalist(er?) of all time (?) walked with more of a boot than a shoe. Not the largest of feet had he, but would play without changing them. He said that if they were comfortable for walking they were comfortable for playing and pulled our legs for having to spend 5 minutes of a class changing shoes before playing. But his shoes were perfect for both activities.

 

Surely this has to be the 'rule of thumb'. Sadly it is hard to find a pair of shoes that is absolutely comfortable for extensive walking (as in parish visiting) and smart enough to wear for taking a funeral. But any shoe that passes this test seems to enhance my pedalling!

 

For the past year I have been wearing a pair of Rieker shoes with a sort of trainer configuration and fairly soft rubber soles that slip across the pedals when required and grip given a little extra pressure. The Clarks I had before were not nearly so good.

 

The organ I learned on had impossibly hard-sprung pedals - you needed gardening boots and cyclists' muscles to get any articulation out of them at all! :ph34r:

Link to post
Share on other sites
I hope you will not mind me exhuming this thread.

 

Is playing in socks really unacceptable?

 

We bought Lawrence a pair of recommended dance shoes (all leather, narrow, hardly any welt, raised heal &c) when he was 12 and going to the Oundle 'Pulling Out The Stops' course because we were told he had to have them. His size 4s cost £50.

 

The next time he needed to wear organ shoes he was size 6. £50 seemed like quite a lot of money for a pair of shoes he wore for less than half an hour. And by that time he was used to playing in socks.

 

He still plays in socks. This brought coruscating criticism from a 'judge' at an RCO Young Organists Performance Festival, and he has again been told recently that he MUST wear shoes! When he was invited to the play at the Paris Conservatoire the professor insisted he wear shoes.

 

On the other hand (or foot) he plays all his services in socks, and took both the Oxford Organ Scholarship Awards Competition (successfully) and ARCO exams (the jury is out but a resit is probably pending) and nothing was said.

 

Should organists wear shoes and, if so, why? I mean, are there real, undeniable, inescapable practical advantages to wearing shoes or is it just 'the done thing'?

 

Best wishes

 

barry

 

Hi

 

I wear shoes. I have a pair of ordinary shoes (fairly cheap) that I keep solely for organ playing. For me, there are 2 reason (other than it being what I was taught back in the 1960's):-

1) it's one less variable when playing on different pedalboards, and

2) by keeping them for organ only, they don't pick up the inevitable pieces of grit from outdoor wear that can scratch the finish on the pedals.

 

The shoes have a fairly narrow toe (I was once called on to play unexpectedly when I was wearing rather broader toed and heavier shoes - the pedalling was far from accurate!). I'm now on the 2nd pair, the first lasted over 20 years.

 

I have tried playing in socks and bear feet, but find it uncompfortable and tiring on the small muscles in the feet.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

Link to post
Share on other sites
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..

 

Another year on and I'm not really happy - I now realise the fundamental problem is that the toes are too rounded making playing adjacent notes on the sharps difficult (as you can't slide back or forward as on the naturals). So I'm going to have to go through all this business again... :ph34r:

 

A secondary issue - for older people! - its not just the shoes- I think one looses strength and flexibility - and need to regularly revisit pedal scales and exercises (e.g. ARS ORGANI II & III) or maybe I shouldn't have ever stopped doing them - I don't know if others have this problem (or care to mention it!)?

Link to post
Share on other sites

I usually play a Rodgers organ, and just wear socks when using the pedals if I can be bothered taking my shoes off.

They seem to slide enough along the pedals for me, but trying to play with them at another organ and I definately get alot of wrong notes.

Apart from OrganMaster shoes does anyone know anyother cheap organ shoes??

 

JA

Link to post
Share on other sites
I don't know, Vox.

 

I'm ignorant. That's why I ask.

 

After all, various respondants to this thread seem happy to play in anything from Adidas trainers to Dr Martens I don't know whats. Would GTB or Dupré be more or less possible in them? Or slippers?

 

What is it about shoes that makes playing those pieces possible and/or why would they be imposible without shoes? I'm sure you're right (as having read your many posts over the last year I have a great deal of respect for you) but I don't know why you're right.

 

Best wishes

 

barry

Sorry, Barry, I should have explained. Both the GTB variations and the Dupré require the organist to play three- and four-note chords with his feet. These chords involve playing thirds - one note with the heel of the foot and a second note on the next-but-one pedal with the toe. So you need to play two pedal notes at once, but the pedals are not adjacent - you need to be able to reach over one pedal without playing it. To do this you need a shoe with a good heel so that your instep is high enough not to play the intervening pedal.

 

At home I do often play my toaster in slippers because I can't be bothered to change. I can just about play thirds in these, but certainly not with the instant precision required for these pieces. I wouldn't think anyone could rely on being able to pedal these pieces faultlessly with bare feet. However, I never cease to be amazed at what people can train the human body to do, so I expect that someone will now promptly correct me!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I, too, use ballroom dancing shoes. My first pair, bought almost 30 years ago, were hand made to my particular feet by Blocks in Sydney, Australia. They specialise in dancing footware. For a player with larger feet, the snug fit is appreciated.

 

A couple of years ago, I bought a new pair of these that I now carry around with me, leaving my trusty, worn-in pair at the church where I'm the incumbent. I protect the shoes, while they are being transported, by placing shoe trees, made of cedar, in them. This also helps when it is warmer and the leather has absorbed moisture, as well as protecting the back of the shoe from being damaged if the case presses down on them. And, I like the smell of the cedar!

 

My shoes have a number of deep scratches in them, typically from the metal around swell pedal, that is sometimes not properly finished underneath the swell pedal. Yes, sometimes I just nudge the swell box open a bit with my toe underneath the swell pedal. I'm grateful that the shoe was scratched, not my feet.

 

Another reason for using shoes is to protect the feet from cold. I've had to play in a church where the holy water inside the church was frozen. Bare feet - no way. Bear feet would be warmer!

 

As a student then young professional in Vienna, I gave up on my organ shoes and reverted to street shoes - definitely helped by the non-radiating, flat pedal boards. While there, I witnessed a performance of the Durufle Suite played in boots by a student of Planyavsky. No problem - remarkably accurate.

 

Still, I insist that my students use leather shoes with thin leather soles and heels. The one student who bought Organmaster shoes ended up returning them, not liking, amongst other reasons, the rigidity because of the metal inserted in the sole.

 

MusingMuso, those steel-capped boots might be useful for some when dealing with certain members of the congregation. Fortunately, I don't need them where I am.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I used to use dance shoes, which were flexible, but had a tapering heel which meant that I had to be extra careful when heeling so as not to slide off the pedal. When those shoes wore out, I replaced them with a pair of Organmaster shoes. The Organmaster shoes have a much wider heel than the dance shoes, but I miss the flexibility of the dance shoes and the ability to easily feel a pedal beneath one's foot which isn't really possible with the firmer Organmaster shoes.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I use socks myself, I find my feet are quite wide enough without shoes. Are organ shoes available in 12 1/2 H?

 

I can't cope with bare feet, they dont slide at all well.

 

Being tall, I have enough of a problem getting my heels across the pedal board without pressing any pedals and with my knees banging on the bottom manual. I don't fancy the idea of heels at all.

 

I'm only a parish hymn and voluntary player. I felt very chuffed that I cope with Bach's Pedal Exercitum and similar levels of complexity without any trouble, and now some of you have frightened me with tales of much worse to come. I can see I will just have to practice more.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Beware of Organmaster shoes if your feet are at all wide or high. I found them hopelessly too narrow for my feet. After going roung the houses somewhat, I have settled on a pair of Loake slip-ons with leather sole and upper, rubber heel and virtually no welt. Mind you, after being measured for some hiking boots the other week, I discovered that my feet are something of a medical curiosity - a fact of which I had remained blissfully unaware for 52 years.

 

It always surprises me how scuffed the uppers of my organ shoes get. You'd think they'd remain pristine for years.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...