Lessons from a Swell Shoe
 
At a pipe organ conference I attended last week in Bangor, Maine, I became acquainted with a unique device featured on a organ built in 1860 by the company of E.G. Hook (pictured). The device called a "swell shoe" opens and closes a set of doors within the organ, creating a "swell" in the dynamic range of sound - "open" being loud and "closed" being soft. On modern instruments this device is usually located in the middle of the console where the organists sits. However on this instrument, the swell shoe was inconveniently located far on the right, requiring an awkward extension of the right leg whenever one wanted to "open or close the swell." At first I struggled with adapting my technique to the older mechanics of the organ, sometimes muttering a complaint under my breath. Slowly, as I became more comfortable with the mechanism, I began to recognize its unique qualities and advantages. In time, I discovered how it actually informed my musicianship and became a gateway into understanding the music written for this type of organ. 
 
How often life confronts us with "a different way" or an unexpected method. We have the choice either to resist or to open ourselves to something new. Sometimes it requires that we take a risk or a leap of faith. 

"Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand." Isaiah 41:10 

~ Jonathan Moyer

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