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A good organ shoe is basic to quick and efficient learning of pedal technique.
While at first one might perceive an advantage to playing in stocking feet, thereby
allowing the feet to feel the keys, most anyone who uses a pair of organ shoes
for a length of time prefers them. Among other advantages, the heel of the shoe
makes playing the heel much easier. The sole minimizes the irregular surfaces
on the bottom surface of the foot. The shoe also protects the feet and toes. If
you feel confident that you might be asked to serve with any frequency as an organist,
you should invest in a good pair of organ shoes (cost: $40 to $60). If you feel
uneasy about the investment at first, you might try a pair of more ordinary shoes
that meet as many of the requirements as possible of the ideal organ shoe. Either
way, the pair of shoes you choose should be set aside for this purpose to protect
the pedal key surface from damage caused by floor grit.
The characteristics of a typical organ shoe are as follows, with the most
important ones listed first:
The following sources for organ shoes might be considered (prices may now be slightly
- HEEL--3/4" to 1 1/4" in height, moderately wide (should not easily fit in
the space between the natural keys). The heel surface should allow the heel
to slide easily forward and back on the naturals without leaving marks. Leather
is usually best.
- SOLE--thin leather (softer leather is best), trimmed so as not to protrude
beyond the sides of the foot. The sole should slide easily up and down the
keys, and from sharp to natural.
- INSTEP--the heel and sole should be offset so as to allow you to "straddle"
from one natural to another. Shoes that contain a "bridge" between heel and
sole are not ideal.
- UPPERS--flexible, lightweight, leather or synthetic. The uppers should slide
against each other without sticking. (Patent leather is usually not ideal).
Baby powder can often help "sticky" shoes to slide more easily against one
- FIT--laces or a strap should hold the shoe snugly to the foot.
- Organmaster shoes are sold by mail order, and offer three-day service via
priority mail when ordered by phone and a bank card (Visa, MasterCard, Discover).
The shoes are made by Capezio and are similar to the Capezio dance shoes,
but have a softer brushed (suede) rather than a finished leather sole. Organmaster
will exchange shoes until the right fit is found, as long as they are not
scuffed or blemished. Call 413-773-0066 or write Organmaster Shoes, 282
Stepstone Hill, Guilford, CT 06437 or visit www.organmastershoes.com
- Women's sizes 4-11 (whole and half sizes) N,M,W black, navy, bone, gold,
silver, white ($50+postage).
- Men's sizes 6 1/2-13 (whole and half sizes) N,M,W black only ($58+postage).
- Men's sizes 14B, D, W, 15B & D, 16B black only ($95+postage).
- Dance supply stores often carry shoes that work very well as organ shoes.
Some prefer the thin finished leather sole on the dance shoes
listed above over the brushed leather sole offered by Organmaster, but the
brushed leather sole is thinner and more flexible. Beware of shoes with
relatively stiff and/or patent leather uppers, with stiff soles, or with
narrow heels. The shoes should slide against one another without sticking.
Some clogging shoes, "Jazz pumps," "character shoes," or tap shoes without
the taps may also be suitable.
- Discount shoe stores or department stores often carry shoes that meet many
of the qualifications listed.
- If you are just "testing the waters" of organ playing, you might find a
suitable pair of shoes at a used clothing store. Be sure that the heel and
sole surfaces are clean.
- It is possible to alter a pair of shoes to make them suitable for organ
use. By having a shoe repair shop add a heel, a strap, and/or by adding a
leather surface to a heel, some bedroom slippers or other shoes may serve
the purpose well.
Since you will need to bring you shoes with you rather than wear them into
the practice room, you might consider purchasing or making a shoe bag. This
will serve both to keep them clean and to remind you to dedicate them to organ
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