I bet you’re jealous of these super-cute shoes!
“Where can I get a pair of my very own?” I hear you asking. Well, we’ll get to that in a minute, but first, ask yourself if you’re prepared to do what it takes to fill them!
Can you handle this?
The pipe organ is one of a subcategory of instruments that you play with both your hands and your feet. Drum kit is the other that comes to mind instantly, but I can’t think of another instrument where you use your feet to play notes arranged in keyboard fashion, under normal circumstances. (I’m gonna say that FAO Schwarz’s Dance-On Piano, made famous in the movie Big, doesn’t count. I will write a concerto for it, though, if someone wants to commission me! 😉 )
Click Mr. Readmore for the music & fashion scoop, plus some very silly bonus video!!!
Okay, I promised you I’d tell you where you can get those fabulous shoes. They’re called (cue heavy reverb effect) ORGANMASTER SHOES. No, really, this is not a joke! There really are special shoes made just for playing the organ pedals, and they really are called ORGANMASTER SHOES. What on earth is so funny?
In my experience, people have sometimes been surprised, and maybe a little bemused, when I’ve told them about the organ shoe thing. I think at first they might suspect that it’s some combination of superstition and prima donna-ism: “I simply cahn’t perform without my lucky shoes! They were given me by my late grandmama, you know!” I promise you, though, organ shoes are a legitimate piece of musical equipment, for several reasons (adapted from the Organmaster website, with my own thoughts added):
- They’re lightweight and form-fitting, so your feet can negotiate the pedalboard with lightning speed!
- They have suede soles, that help you slide when you need to and grip when you need to
- They have the right heel height (1.5 inches) for pedaling with both heel and toe
- The have a steel shank that keeps your foot in the correct position on the pedals:
The fact that they look fabulous is just the icing on the cake. 😉
Of course, I do know organists who play barefoot, or in socks, or in street shoes that satisfy the criteria above to one degree or another. They’re just showing off, hmph. Plus, the ones who wear street shoes are depositing street gunk on the pedals, which is then picked up by the bare or stockinged feet of the next person — eww!
When I first started learning how to play the organ, with pedals and everything, it was like learning to drive a huge manual transmission truck with 32 clutches and 61 shifters (those are the numbers of notes in the standard organ pedalboard and keyboard, respectively). Like most organ students, I had already played the piano for many years, so my hands were used to working together — but add the feet in, and suddenly I was all thumbs! My poor left hand, which was used to playing the bass lines that my feet had now purloined, just didn’t know what to do, and tended to just hang there, limply, despairing. 🙁
After not too long, though, I got the hang of it, and it was kinda fun!
As I mentioned in my Happy Easter! post, I’ve been on a sabbatical from organ performance since McDoc and I embarked on our marriage/relocation/medical residency adventure, but I recently visited my family in Northern California, and I filled in one Sunday at my Dad’s Church (which I grew up in — literally — my Mom was the church office manager for many years, which meant I was underfoot on the church grounds quite frequently!).
So, here’s the silly video, as promised! I asked Dad to take some video of me practicing, and my poor little digital camera, which was on the verge of departing for that great camera store in the sky, would only record video in 11-second chunks. I spliced a few of them together so I could bring you a few excerpts from “The Heavens are Telling” by Beethoven. Confession: like dancers, organists aren’t supposed to look down at their feet at all. I cheated. I know I’m not the only one! 😛
And of course, don’t forget the out-take reel! 😉
Hey, I hadn’t played the organ in 9 months — accident[al]s will happen! 😀
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