Fancy Footwear?

My wife Louise and I recently visited my cousin and her husband for a delightful evening meal. At some point in the evening, conversation turned to footwear, and my cousin was appalled to learn that I often wear slippers when teaching in my home studio.

Inevitably, I was quickly ganged up on, the object of much mirth. To be honest, it was a bit harsh. Jibes included:

“How old did you say you are again – 87?”

Followed by,

“Do you wear pyjamas and a dressing gown too?”

And even …

“Are you trying to look like Hugh Heffner?”

Now I ask you, what kind of question is that?

Gamely, I tried to defend myself with:

“…but slippers are really comfortable when playing the piano…”

But of course this quickly led to:

“So do all your pupils bring slippers to wear too?”

Which got me thinking …

Fancy Footwork

Piano playing, especially at more advanced levels, involves some fancy footwork. But I can’t help wondering how players manage when they choose to wear fancy footwear.

Take, for example, these heels…

Yuja_Wang_playing_Tchaikovsky's_Piano_Concerto_n°1_at_Carnegie_Hall_on_July_23,_2017

I can’t imagine those shoes helping with pedal control – although to be fair, they seem not to diminish Yuja Wang’s stunning pianism!

At the opposite end of the sartorial spectrum, Alice Sara Ott …

Alice-Sara-Ott-beim-Panasonic-Showcase-in-Berlin

Personally, I’m not into the barefoot approach either (just look at that wonderfully relaxed wrist though!). But I do tend to avoid boots that hinder ankle movement, and any shoe where the heel is fairly thick.

Slippers are, in a word, ideal. But how odd it is that as humans we develop wonderfully practical and comfortable clothing, only to make it socially unacceptable to wear!

So – why shouldn’t my students wear slippers? Of course they can, and it would be an improvement on them arriving in whatever footwear they wore to work or school that day.

Which brings me, somewhat uncomfortably, to the story of Rupert…

Something Unspeakable…

Those of a more sensitive disposition, and the easily offended, would do well to skip this section. But the rest of you might enjoy the story of Rupert (not his real name, obviously).

Rupert was an enthusiastic ten-year-old who came bounding into his piano lesson one dark autumnal evening a few years ago, having trodden in something unspeakable between his front door and my piano stool.

It’s probably best not to describe the scene that unfolded, but suffice it to say that I will happily go the rest of my piano-teaching career without ever again having to wipe faecal matter off the sustain pedal.

Moving on…

I think it’s perhaps time to have a new policy in my studio –

Please bring slippers or “indoor shoes” to change into for the lesson.

What do other teachers think? What rules do you have for footwear in your studio?

Do leave a comment below and let me know!

Published by

Andrew Eales

Andrew Eales is a pianist, writer and teacher based in Milton Keynes UK, where he runs Keyquest Music - his successful independent music education business, private teaching practice and creative outlet.

3 thoughts on “Fancy Footwear?”

  1. One of my adult pupils often comes in her slippers as she drives straight here. I always wear my indoor shoes to teach as they make me feel more professional. Re pedalling, I think a small heel is best.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I wear my slippers to teach. It’s extremely fashionable, your cousin knows nothing!

    I ask my students to wash their hands on arrival, and I don’t allow shoes upstairs to reach the bathroom. Therefore they have to remove shoes and end up in their lesson in their socks.

    I’d rather adults didn’t remove their shoes though. Their feet are significantly more smelly than the average 8 year old!

    Liked by 1 person

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