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Slip on jazz shoes. Do these work as organ shoes?

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Re: Slip on jazz shoes. Do these work as organ shoes?

Postby James » Sun Nov 20, 2016 9:12 am

I wear Berkenstocks, Arizona style, in dark brown. They work particularly well for drum and thunder effects.
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Re: Slip on jazz shoes. Do these work as organ shoes?

Postby David Baldwin » Sun Nov 20, 2016 10:18 pm

The previous organist at my local parish church always played in socks. You only noticed it when he walked to the organ. He was an excellent organist.
I have tried playing in socks but dare not try it in a church because of the probability of getting cramp.
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Re: Slip on jazz shoes. Do these work as organ shoes?

Postby Neumie » Sun Nov 20, 2016 10:30 pm

David Baldwin wrote:I have tried playing in socks but dare not try it in a church because of the probability of getting cramp.


Why would playing in socks give someone a cramp? Or is that something unique to your feet? Do you require tall heels because your ankle won't bend as far when playing in socks?
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Re: Slip on jazz shoes. Do these work as organ shoes?

Postby David Baldwin » Mon Nov 21, 2016 4:37 am

That's how my feet are and have been for many years.
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Re: Slip on jazz shoes. Do these work as organ shoes?

Postby amun » Mon Nov 21, 2016 12:13 pm

AFAIK J.B.Bach is said to have been an outstanding "pedalist", reason enough for a research on the footwear he was playing with.

After some googel-ing I found a study about just this issue, unfortunately in German. ( ...maybe the Google-Translator is precise enough...).....http://www.gdo.de/fileadmin/gdo/pdfs/AO-0903-Backus.pdf

Here I learnt that at Bach´s times the shoes were "soft", heels and and exactly the same for the right and left foot. IMHO they must have been pretty near to dance shoes.

The authers guess that at those times the average organists only used their toes, but that J.S.B. must have used his heels ( not the heels :wink: ) in his most difficult pedal sections.

Rgds,
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Re: Slip on jazz shoes. Do these work as organ shoes?

Postby Neumie » Mon Nov 21, 2016 6:21 pm

Thanks for posting that, Amun.

I read a book a while back called "Bach's Feet", a history of organ pedals in Europe. (Seriously, there is such a book and I actually did read it.)

It's more than speculation that Bach used only toes when pedalling (it's often cited as fact) and even with that limitation, his pedaling was noted to be unbelievable to people that saw it up close. There were stories in that book I read of surviving church journals of the day and someone noting that they had hired Back to come in for a day to give their new organ the once-over and see if it met with his approval. Bach was known to be the only person who could thoroughly exhaust an organ's capabilities, so churches with adequate financial resources hired him to give his opinion on newly installed organs. Otherwise, they had no way of knowing whether or not they had bought a good instrument.

I'm not 100% sure of this since it's been over two years since I read the book, but if recall correctly, many organs of Bach's day really couldn't be played very fast and at an advanced level with heels. The designs of the layout were nothing like an AGO organ of today. It was all toe-toe-toe.

I read that, today, one or two advanced organists have made a personal challenge of seeing if in fact all of Bach's compositions could be played all-toes, and they've demonstrated that it can be done. So between the design of the pedals, the fact that modern organists have shows that heels are technically not necessary to play all of Bach's stuff ... and the fact that there are no surviving written references from Bach's era about anyone playing with pedals, there is more than a little consensus that Bach never played with his heels.

On the subject of shoes, I've had a melancholy thought these last few days. My uncle Jakob was a lifelong master shoe-maker, living in the Bavarian Alps in Germany. Unfortunately, he died about five years ago. If he was still alive today, how cool it would have been to task him with building me the perfect set of organ shoes ... shoes that are truly the thinnest suede "sock in the front", just like a dance shoe, with a proper heel in the back. And being family, I could have gone back to him over and over again until he had the design perfect. If he would have made me two or three pairs, I would have had perfect organ shoes for the rest of my life - made by my own uncle. Sadly, that will never be. It's just as well. If I did have such shoes from my uncle, they would probably be in a glass display case in my home and never actually get used.

On a different note, I do remember a funny segment in that Bach's Feet book. At various points in history, the Germans and Italians have often had unfriendly relations. Way back in the day, the Germans considered the Italians "lazy" and the Italians considered the Germans "uncivilized" and "brutish".

The funniest (and most politically incorrect) story in the whole book concerns some German guy (in the mid or late 1600's I think) who made it his mission to introduce the German innovation of organ pedals to the Italians. He went to a major city in Italy that had an organ, and got that particular church up to speed ... having a full pedal board built and installed, and staying in the town long enough to give the house organist lessons in how to pedal properly. The Italians now had everything they needed to begin pedaling on the level of the Germans.

A few years later, that same pedal-evangelist went back to Italy to check on the church and to see how they were progressing with the pedals. Well ... he found that the Italians considered pedaling so difficult and so much work, that not only did they remove the pedal board they had been given, but they had a special console organ created that had two playing stations on it. The main manuals for the organist, and directly next to him (are you ready for this?), a separate second manual where some apprentice organist would sit and play the bass line!

There was a picture in the book of that two-person organ (it still exists to this day), but it was a library book so I don't have access to it right now, otherwise I would post a scan of the picture. I've never been able to find the picture or that organ online.

Apparently that story made all the rounds in the German churches of the 1600's and reinforced the common prejudice of the day that the Italians were too lazy to play proper pedals.

Ouch!

https://www.amazon.com/Bachs-Feet-European-Performance-Reception/dp/0521199018
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Re: Slip on jazz shoes. Do these work as organ shoes?

Postby nrorganist » Tue Nov 22, 2016 9:23 pm

As a pre-teen, I started playing pipe organs in leather soled dress shoes I had worn at least a year. I never felt that the shoes were limiting my pedaling - only my ability was.

After 20+ years of not having access to a pipe organ and dreaming of playing again, I discovered Hauptwerk and in the past several months, I have excitedly cobbled together a minimal III/P Hauptwerk setup to relearn how to play.

First, I started playing in socks, but discovered that my heals and to a lesser extent, toes slid too easily to neighboring pedals.

Second, I bought a pair of OrganMaster shoes (Men's & Unix - ORGAN SHOES at http://store.organmastershoes.com/). For me so far, the suede soles slide somewhat more easily than I'd like. Also, I am having to get used to the 1 1/4 inch high heals (possibly double the lesser height of my childhood dress shoes). I have tended to return to playing in socks again, knowing that lacking any shoe heal height was compromising my healing ability.

A few days ago, I read 162_Ranks use of Capezio jazz dance shoes (from the danzia.com website) and was encouraged to investigate. Looking at the Capezio Product Description, I was concerned that the EVA forefoot patch and heel would grip too much and not allow reliable and smooth sliding. But with no other concerns, I ordered a pair to try out.

Yesterday, the Capezios arrived. For me, the slightly grabby forefoot patch and heel has just enough grip to avoid sliding to neighboring pedals, but slides just enough to enable reasonably smooth playing (e.g. across neighboring sharps). These had the best feel for organ pedaling so far. So good that I couldn't stop playing last night. And even when I stopped, they fit (really: hug) my long narrow feet so well that I didn't want to take them off! This is the best initial shoe (of any kind) experience I have ever had (even if it is only from several hours of initial use).

Thanks, 162_Ranks for suggesting Capezios!
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Re: Slip on jazz shoes. Do these work as organ shoes?

Postby 162_Ranks » Wed Nov 23, 2016 10:23 am

nrorganist wrote:As a pre-teen, I started playing pipe organs in leather soled dress shoes I had worn at least a year. I never felt that the shoes were limiting my pedaling - only my ability was.

After 20+ years of not having access to a pipe organ and dreaming of playing again, I discovered Hauptwerk and in the past several months, I have excitedly cobbled together a minimal III/P Hauptwerk setup to relearn how to play.

[snip]

Thanks, 162_Ranks for suggesting Capezios!


It sounds like we have almost identical stories! Glad to be of help!
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Re: Slip on jazz shoes. Do these work as organ shoes?

Postby nrorganist » Sat Nov 26, 2016 5:33 pm

> Post by 162_Ranks » Wed Nov 23, 2016 8:23 am

> It sounds like we have almost identical stories! Glad to be of help!

162_Ranks, we might. Thanks. I sent you a PM.
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Re: Slip on jazz shoes. Do these work as organ shoes?

Postby Neumie » Wed Jan 25, 2017 5:02 pm

nrorganist wrote:A few days ago, I read 162_Ranks use of Capezio jazz dance shoes (from the danzia.com website) and was encouraged to investigate. Looking at the Capezio Product Description, I was concerned that the EVA forefoot patch and heel would grip too much and not allow reliable and smooth sliding. But with no other concerns, I ordered a pair to try out.

Yesterday, the Capezios arrived. For me, the slightly grabby forefoot patch and heel has just enough grip to avoid sliding to neighboring pedals, but slides just enough to enable reasonably smooth playing (e.g. across neighboring sharps). These had the best feel for organ pedaling so far. So good that I couldn't stop playing last night. And even when I stopped, they fit (really: hug) my long narrow feet so well that I didn't want to take them off! This is the best initial shoe (of any kind) experience I have ever had (even if it is only from several hours of initial use).


That's a pretty strong testimonial, nrorganist. Are these the exact shoes you bought? (I'm asking about the model, not the color.) Are you still happy with them now, a month later?

http://www.danzia.com/capezio-adult-lace-up-eseries-oxford-jazz-shoe/p871157
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Re: Slip on jazz shoes. Do these work as organ shoes?

Postby nrorganist » Wed Jan 25, 2017 7:40 pm

You're right, it was quite a testimonial. Yes, the Danzia URL you mention (for the Capezio Adult Lace Up E-Series Oxford Jazz Shoe) points to the model of shoes that I bought.

Now 2 months later, I am still happiest with these Capezio's, over both my OrganMaster's and over socks. The EVA forefoot patch and heel continue to have the right amount of slight grabbiness for me. After several hours per week of use, I do not detect any significant wear.

When ordering through the Daniza website, I followed their instruction: Men order 2 sizes larger than street shoe size.
In my case, my street shoes are usually a size 11 1/2 Narrow. I ordered size 13 1/2 Capezio's and they fit just right.

At such an affordable price, they were worth trying. I continue to believe they are the best shoes for my organ playing.
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Re: Slip on jazz shoes. Do these work as organ shoes?

Postby Neumie » Wed Jan 25, 2017 8:38 pm

nrorganist wrote:You're right, it was quite a testimonial. Yes, the Danzia URL you mention (for the Capezio Adult Lace Up E-Series Oxford Jazz Shoe) points to the model of shoes that I bought.

Now 2 months later, I am still happiest with these Capezio's, over both my OrganMaster's and over socks.


Thank you, nrorganist. I was at a Capezio store and saw them - I even tried on a pair. They were comfortable enough, but I decided against them because I assumed that textured rubber soles wouldn't allow me to slide over notes, as I often do. But your experience seems to suggest otherwise.

Also, I noticed that the rubber sole under the shoe was quite a distance in from the edge with a lot of buckling as the sides pleated under. That looked kind of weird and I thought it might interfere with pedaling, but I don't hear any complaints from you. I know with OrganMaster shoes, the underside cleanly goes right up to the very edge.

Image

I made the 35+ min trek to Capezio and came back with nothing. I guess I'm going back and taking a chance on these, based on what you wrote. They didn't seem right in the store, but maybe I'll have a much better experience once I get them home.

By the way, Capezio is obviously a dance-shoe store. They have a wall sized mirror with wall mounted ballet bars so the dancers can try the shoes on in action.

Why don't they have a set of AGO organ pedals laying there for me to try out the shoes on? :mrgreen:
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Re: Slip on jazz shoes. Do these work as organ shoes?

Postby nrorganist » Thu Jan 26, 2017 1:03 pm

About the "rubber sole under the shoe was quite a distance in from the edge with a lot of buckling as the sides pleated under" interfering with pedaling. Yes, it is definitely possible that some organists might find this an issue to some degree.

Let me share briefly about my situation to explain my perspective. My organist past was only as a substitute church organist from my teens into my 30's. I envisioned being a music major, but was realistic about my talent and abilities (despite my intense enjoyment of playing). Instead I degree'd in and have been enjoying a engineering and technology career. This choice has made it easier for me to achieve a decent standard of living, while sacrificing the organ as my career. Early mid-life frenetics and ending up living fairly remotely from any pipe organs caused a 20+ year absence from playing nearly at all until several months ago, courtesy of the literal godsends we are fortunate enough to enjoy - Hauptwerk and the ecosystem of sample set providers!

In short, my currently rusty and limited abilities may not enable me to notice the rubber sole away from the edge and the side pleated under buckling as much as others might. Note that in the past several months, I have not been taking any lessons (in other words, having any teacher give me feedback on my playing, particularly my pedaling).

To be continually open to change, I have definitely kept my OrganMaster's and I occasionally try playing in the OrganMaster's or socks to see if either work better for me. In these first two months of Capezio use, Capezio's have continued to be the best for me. But who knows what my future holds. Seems good to hedge my bets.

Hopefully this explains the basis of my views and gives you a more balanced view for your purchase decision. If you do purchase Capezio's or find other shoes that work well for you, I would definitely be interested in hearing about them. Anything that enables better playing would be great to learn about.
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Re: Slip on jazz shoes. Do these work as organ shoes?

Postby Neumie » Thu Jan 26, 2017 2:11 pm

nrorganist wrote:Let me share briefly about my situation to explain my perspective. ... Early mid-life frenetics and ending up living fairly remotely from any pipe organs caused a 20+ year absence from playing nearly at all until several months ago, courtesy of the literal godsends we are fortunate enough to enjoy - Hauptwerk and the ecosystem of sample set providers!

In short, my currently rusty and limited abilities may not enable me to notice the rubber sole away from the edge and the side pleated under buckling as much as others might.


Do you do the heel-toe-heel-toe thing, with the ankle pivoting around left and right?
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Re: Slip on jazz shoes. Do these work as organ shoes?

Postby nrorganist » Thu Jan 26, 2017 4:51 pm

Yes, I play mostly heel-toe-heel-toe with ankle pivoting. I was taught heel-toe-heel-toe with ankle pivoting on pipe organs in American churches, which have little reverberation.

Ankle pivoting in Capezio's appears to have the same slight grabiness that sliding laterally sharp-to-sharp does. It does not feel too sticky or become too jumpy for me. This may be due to my tending to depress and hold pedals relatively lightly.

With Hauptwerk, now I am able to play organs in acoustic environments with significant reverberation. Several months ago, part of the time I started to try to play toe-toe-toe as well.

In the past 2 months, both pedaling styles using Capezio's have worked equally well for me.
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