Men's Organmaster shoes in action!
You will be doing quite a lot of things with your feet and not just playing the pedals themselves. You have the Swell box to deal with and also those pedal toe pistons or levers may need a press now and then.
You may feel that to play in your socks will give you greater sensitivity to feeling around for notes. I recommend that you do use some shoes because the very small bones in your toes can quite easily be damaged if you hit against a sharp or flat or some of the sharp iron levers sometimes found on older instruments. When you start to play faster passages on the pedal-board, you will find that your feet are moving around down there fairly swiftly.
The other reason for recommending shoes is so that the foot is supported. When playing in socks, you will tense the muscles of the toes to give you a firmer lever to play with. In fact you are trying to replicate the feel of a shoe sole. Any tensing of muscles will work against your relaxed ankle movements which, as you know, need to be supple and able to move easily to enable the toes and heels to play well.
So, what sort of shoe is best? Most organists seem to agree that a leather sole and rubber heel works best because the leather sole enables you to play a note and then slide back on the key while keeping the note down. The rubber heel makes for safer contact with the pedals and gives the heel a firmer grip.
There are purpose designer shoes for men and women organists styled on dancing shoes. If you visit the Organ Master Shoes website, you will find help to order these online. They also sell organ music!
If you buy a pair 'off the shelf' and the shoes do not have a suitable heel, then you can always have them built-up or covered with rubber at a Mister Minute shop or local cobblers.
Your feet need to feel comfortable, supported and under control. Don’t be put off practising before you find the right pair for you. You can still do a lot of work on the pedals using any shoes because you are only using a small part of your shoe, just behind your big toes.