Organ Shoes

Return to Organ Study at BYU website

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 another.
  5. FIT--laces or a strap should hold the shoe snugly to the foot.
The following sources for organ shoes might be considered (prices may now be slightly higher):
  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. Discount shoe stores or department stores often carry shoes that meet many of the qualifications listed.

  4. 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.

  5. 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 use only.

Return to Organ Study at BYU website