Organ Shoes

I’ve been playing the pedals in stocking feet for awhile and my friend told me I should get organ shoes. Just wondering—what do other organists think about shoes vs stocking feet?

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Always wear a soft soled shoe, our stake in 1958 gave us 6 organ lessons in 6 weeks and this was highly stressed.
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You can’t play the organ well without shoes on.

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About the organ shoes; I agree wholeheartedly with Mike Nield — organ shoes are a MUST for correct and comfortable pedaling. I didn’t think I could feel the pedals for awhile, so I pedaled in stocking feet. Finally I broke down and bought them and thought, “I’ll probably regret this.” What a surprise when I put them on and immediately became a BETTER organist! I mean, IMMEDIATELY. I was astounded. Everything I had been taught was actually true! (There’s great comfort in that, isn’t there?)

So, if I taught organ lessons, I would insist that my students use organ shoes. My original teacher did not. Don’t know why….but I’m glad I figured it out on my own. I won’t — can’t — play without them.
Follow Mike’s advice about how to get started with the shoes. I pretty much did what he said and used the shoes gradually in Sacrament Meeting, not believing that I still wouldn’t mess up. But it wasn’t long before I was using them for every hymn, every Sunday.

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People who don’t like organ shoes have never tried organ shoes. I played in bare feet for years, insisting I was a “tactile” person and needed to feel the pedals. I finally grew up enough to try a pair of organ masters thinking I could always take them off when the mood struck me. The mood doesn’t strike me.

In fact, I’ve decided happiness is strapping on my organ shoes :)

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8 thoughts on “Organ Shoes

  1. I love my organ shoes. So much so that, several years ago, my church bag was stolen from my car and my organ shoes were in it. They were the first things I replaced. Once you wear them you will not like playing without them.

  2. I bought organ shoes and love them. I didn’t think I would, but I really enjoy having them. It makes it easier to skip notes between pedals and I can still feel where the keys are.

  3. I too was one of those who started out playing in bare feet. When I finally decided to get organ shoes, I didn’t think I would be able to “feel” the pedal. Amazingly, I can! The shoes have just the right heel height to make it easy to play one note, skip a note and play the next on without hitting the note in the middle. I will never play any other way.

  4. To be honest I’m one who is prone to stockings. But the only reason for this is because organ shoes are so expensive. I looked into getting a pair once because I honestly do believe all the good reports I hear about organ shoes. However I was turned off when I saw the price tag. (I’m one of those dirt poor college students). I think there would be a lot more properly fitted organists out there if there was a way to make them more available.

  5. I am an 18 year old who started playing organ for sacrament meeting at 15 when my piano teacher/ward organist left. She told me that organ shoes were too expensive–they are about $85 a pair–so I should just use my feet. I did that each week until I decided to take private lessons from Daniel Kerr at BYU-Idaho. Organ shoes are required for lessons so I sucked up the big price and bought the shoes. I now tell my parents that I refuse to play without organ shoes. They make playing the pedals so much more legato because you can easily transition from heel to toe with finesse. I absolutely loved it!

    • Good point, Jacob! I never thought about it that way. I spend so much time practicing at my chapel organ that my approach has become rather casual. Thanks for the reminder.

  6. I agree with the above sentiments that organ shoes are a must. I believe also that it is bad manners to play in bare feet let alone unsanitary. I mean, who wants to play the organ in their bare/stocking feet after someone else has played in their unshod, sweaty feet. Just not a pretty picture. If anything, appropriate organ shoes should be worn out of respect for the instrument.

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