Principal Trumpeter Is Blowing The Musicians’ Optician’s Trumpet
Shaun Hooke is the Principal Trumpet of the RTE Concert Orchestra. Having had a high minus correction for distance since he was young, he is now also having to contend with sharply increasing presbyopia over the last few years. Shaun had worked with his optician to try to resolve his increasing near vision issues. But the monovision contact lens solution has been highly unsatisfactory for reading music clearly.
Musicians need to be able to see the music on the stand clearly. Often they are required to play pieces of music by sight-reading. These pieces are often unfamiliar and the musician needs to get it right first time. So having a crisp view of the piece is essential. Shaun not only needs to focus at all the distances required of a professional trumpeter, he also teaches. This requires Shaun to read music positioned off to one side, which is situated in front of the student. Shaun conducts the lessons either in person or via Skype, through his website dublintrumpetacademy.com which again presents even more variance in his working distances.
Having initially contacted Allegro Optical Opticians via our website Shaun made a special journey all the way from Dublin to visit us in Meltham. We conducted a full eye examination and a contact lens test. Shaun was using a monovision contact lens prescription. Giving his dominant eye a correction for full distance and the non-dominant eye a focal distance of 1.5 meters. Unfortunately, this no longer worked. Shaun was considering a change to multifocal contact lenses with an over spectacle, for use when rehearsing or performing.
A Two Part Solution
We corrected Shaun’s vision by prescribing contact lenses with a monovision solution. The left eye underpowered by 2.00 Dioptres and the right eye prescribed for clear distance vision. For playing and at work we have prescribed adapted rimless spectacles to use over the top of the contact lenses. The new spectacles allow Shaun to see all his music on the stand, the conductor and also his computer.
Shaun has now collected his new glasses and he said “Uncertainty with your vision is just as serious as a mechanical failure with your instrument. That moment of indecision increases performance pressure, leads to mistakes and stops you giving your best. All sorted now thanks to Allegro. Crystal clear vision even in a gloomy opera pit!”
In addition to the above solution, we have also devised a multifocal prescription for contact lenses, giving Shaun a much better view of the music when he isn’t able to use his spectacles.
Focusing at many different distances can pose real problems to musicians. A great many find they struggle with the varied focal distances required. Some musicians also suffer from postural problems which are often caused by their deteriorating vision.
With an understanding of the playing and seating positions of professional musicians, this can be overcome and the musicians working and playing life can easily be improved. Many Musicians who experience focusing problems at different distances are unaware that there is a solution to their vision problems. Most Optometrists and Opticians either prescribe and dispense single vision lenses for the music stand. Or Computer or Office lenses which don’t give enough depth of view.
This case study has illustrated the variety of dispensing challenges that practitioners may face when a musician presents in practice.
The proof of the pudding….
….on three fronts over the first weekend! It was a real test for my new
specialist music glasses. I was able to see all areas of the double pages of music easily and at a glance, really necessary when performing in different situations.
I played my violin in the Huddersfield Philharmonic, a fabulous concert, shared with the Huddersfield
Choral Society performing Belshazzar’s Feast. Miraculously I could see all areas of my music clearly
as well as our brilliant conductor Rob Guy.
Next day my glasses were tried and tested as church organist at our whole Parish Service. The
challenge here is that the music is physically considerably higher and further away. Again a great
The afternoon brought an intimate concert at home where playing the piano I accompanied my
talented grandchildren as they all three performed for Grandpa’s birthday surprise.
A great result and such an improvement as I can see all my music immediately now. I would not
hesitate to recommend Allegro Optical to anyone. Their service was so thorough, even playing their
piano in the consultation room and my violin to check complicated distances, positions and heights.
An interesting, friendly and genuine experience. Thank you all.
Now Jane Has An Eye For The Music
Many of us have a passion in life, for some of us it’s mountain biking. For others, it could be painting beautiful watercolours. For others, it’s music and mastering a particular instrument. But imagine that once you have mastered that passion, after years of dedication and patience you find yourself hampered in your endeavours because of failing eyesight.
At Allegro Optical Opticians, we understand this dilemma, we see it almost every day. As a specialist musician’s optician, we regularly have talented performers visit us because they are no longer able to focus clearly on the music on their stand. The first thing to become a problem is the sharps and naturals, the symbols are so similar they become hard to distinguish. Then it’s the accidentals or the key signatures that become an issue.
For many musicians, failing eyesight is a real problem and Jane Collins is no exception. Jane came to Allegro Optical after reading about our specialism with musicians. The single focus spectacles she had been prescribed for her music stand distance meant that she couldn’t see the conductor very well.
A Clear Solution
We dispensed Jane with a pair of spectacles with varifocal lenses and another pair with our bespoke “musician’s” lenses, allowing her to see her music on the stand and the conductor clearly. At Allegro Optical we use a unique dispensing process and algorithm to enable all our musicians to see and play effectively.
Focusing at the many different distances required of musicians can pose real problems. Many musicians suffer from postural problems as a result and this can lead to pain and discomfort.
With a sound understanding of the playing and seating positions and the needs of a musician, these problems can be overcome. The musicians working and playing life can easily be extended due to the improvement that this unique optical solution provides.
Many Musicians experience focusing problems at different distances and they are unaware that there is a solution to the problem. Many Optometrists and Opticians either prescribe and dispense single vision lenses for the music stand distance. Some will dispense varifocals which often exacerbate the problems due to the narrow corridor. There are a plethora of lens solutions available for the sports person, but until now musicians haven’t received the service, support and products they deserve.
This case study has illustrated the variety of dispensing challenges that practitioners may face when a musician presents in practice. The individual needs of the musician are often NOT understood.
About the authors
Jane Collins is a talented Violinist with The Huddersfield Philharmonic Orchestra. The Huddersfield Philharmonic Orchestra perform either in Huddersfield Town Hall, Dewsbury Town Hall or Huddersfield Parish Church. The group bring together a broad mix of players from the surrounding areas who share their talent and love of music.
Allegro Optical Opticians in Meltham are proud supporters and sponsors of The Huddersfield Philharmonic and our staff regularly attend concerts by the orchestra. The Musician’s Optician continues to support Huddersfield Philharmonic Orchestra to enable them to keep growing and performing for the many music lovers in the area.
Allegro Optical, the musicians’ optician is a dispensing led practice with a highly professional team that specialises in the optical correction of musicians, presenters and performers. Managing Director (Optics) and proprietor Sheryl Doe BSc (Hons), FBDO, is a dispensing optician who excels at providing bespoke optical solutions.