Categories
About Allegro Music News

“In conversation” with Cory Band’s Flugelhorn star;  Helen Williams

Allegro Optical talks to Helen WIlliams

“Green Eyewear” for green eyes

“In Conversation” will be a regular interview series, in which one of our team sits down with leading lights from the world of music. From musicians to dancers, public speakers to instrument makers, this series will allow us to chat with some of the creative people we have helped and talk to them in-depth, about their careers, creative processes, and most importantly their vision and eyewear.

Allegro Optical, “the musician’s optician” MD Stephen Tighe, talks to Cory Band’s Flugelhorn player and good friend of the musician’s optician, Helen Williams.

Cory Band Helen Williams wearing David Green Eyewear

ST – Helen, how have you coped with lock-down?

I’m fortunate to be in lockdown with my best friend, (and husband!), Glyn. So, apart from a few business and financial worries that we’re coping with by being extra savvy at the moment, it has been OK…, well apart from not going to rehearsals and giving concerts. That is what we’re missing almost as much as our families!

ST – We’ve noticed lots of online activity from you, Glyn and the band. How was the interactive experience for you?

We have been craving the performance element of our lives, so having projects to work on with Cory and the individual things we have been doing, has been helping a lot. We’ve tried using the Acapella App… and really enjoyed the process. What a brilliant practice tool it has turned into! Listening back to recordings has helped work on tuning and ensemble. The aspects of playing that we almost do without thinking, whilst in a band rehearsal or performance and something we are missing most. I’ve taught myself several new IT skills involved with recording and editing, using (new to me) software apps, and enjoyed doing it as I’ve had the time on my hands to do it properly!

ST – How have your specialist musicians’ glasses helped? Or Since coming to Allegro, have our lenses helped with your playing and previous eye-sight issues?

To be honest, I really couldn’t do without my glasses from Allegro. I would liken it to having had my failing eyesight, (due to my age), totally corrected. I wear my glasses all the time. Not only can I see my music on my stand as I practice, rehearse, and teach, but also when I’m performing as a soloist. This is when I’m using my left eye more than my right (dominant eye), because of the nature and positioning of my instrument. It’s very important to have this knowledge, as you stand in front of an audience that you are going to be able to see what you’re playing. Then literally, all you have to do is perform! I wear my glasses for driving, watching TV, using the computer…ALL THE TIME.

ST – Would you recommend our in-depth consultation process to other musicians?

The consultation process was key to finding a solution to my very particular difficulties with wearing glasses to read music. There was some trial and error involved, but Sheryl quickly got to grips with what I needed, (and the solutions required to overcome my problems), and found the perfect solution for me. I cannot recommend Allegro highly enough and have done so lots of times!

ST – What’s with the stamp collecting?

This will follow me to my grave now won’t it?!?!? It is literally something I’ve always said just before going on stage in a contest. Just when the apprehension reaches its peak, the moment you are about to step on stage, another less perilous hobby springs to mind. I mentioned it when we were making the SkyArts documentaries in 2018 and they edited just that one comment from me into the titles for each programme. If I had £1 for every time someone has mentioned it to me since…

ST – You chose a handcrafted David Green eyewear frame, what attracted you to these frames?

I like the design of the frame and the ones I chose are a change from my usual glasses. I’m a creature of habit and a bit of a plain Jane normally, always going for the same or similar. My new frames are just a bit different for me.

David Green eyewear Cerris - Helen Williams frame

ST: Is the idea of low impact and environmentally friendly eyewear important to you?

Environmentally friendly is not something I had ever really considered before when looking at new eyewear, but what a fabulous idea. I’m delighted that my new frames fall into this category!

ST: Isn’t it a bit of a coincidence that you chose a handcrafted frame by David Green Eyewear considering your childhood nickname?

For many years at school, my nickname was “Green-eye”….not surprisingly because my eyes are greenish, (though I think they’re getting browner as I age!). It’s totally appropriate that my eyewear should be from David Green Eyewear!

ST: You’ve been visiting Allegro Optical, the musician’s optician for some time now, and it’s quite a trek from Wales, why do you feel, as a musician, that specialist eye care is important?

It takes about 4 ½ hours for us to get from South Wales to Allegro Optical, but having an optician who understands and can come up with solutions to some very musician specific problems, is an absolute godsend. Why would I go elsewhere?

Helen WIlliams of Cory Band and Sheryl Doe the musicians optician at the Sage Brass in Concert

ST – Can you see how our in-depth “musician focused” eye-care can prolong a musician’s career?

Being able to see the music is vital to musicians. Losing that ability is frustrating at best and totally disabling at worst. I wouldn’t be able to continue playing for Cory Band without my glasses specifically tailored for me by Allegro. Fact!

Why do musicians come to Allegro Optical?

As an independent family run business, we are gaining an international reputation. Both for professional excellence and an inventive approach to meeting customer needs.

Now known internationally as the ‘Musician’s Opticians’ we are attracting many clients from across Europe and further afield. Our groundbreaking work with performers, players and conductors have resulted in Allegro Optical becoming the first and only opticians to gain registration with the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM). We are currently working with Bapam and The Royal College of Music Healthy Performer project. As part of the project, the Royal College of Music has commissioned Twenty-five short films, one of which features Allegro Optical. Although the release of the film has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The films feature specialist healthcare and medical professionals talking about their area of expertise. As part of the Healthy Conservatoires Network, the films will provide practical advice to help performers recognise symptoms and give preventative advice or discuss treatments available for common conditions.

We treat each client as an individual because they are. It is true that no two musicians are the same, so why should their vision correction be? We enjoy creating unique lenses to meet a musician’s particular needs. As musicians ourselves we can ask the right questions and interpret the answers accordingly.

Award-winning eye-care

We’ve been pretty successful in helping performers to #SeeTheMusic. In fact, in the last twelve months alone we have scooped no less than five national and regional awards for our work in this field. These awards include the National ‘Best New Arts & Entertainment Business of the Year at a gala event in London. Managing Director Sheryl Doe was awarded the 2019 Dispensing Optician of the Year and she was a finalist in the AOP Dispensing Optician of the year 2020. She has also reached the finals of the  National Business Women’s Awards, for the Business Owner of the Year category.  Allegro Optical’s cutting edge approach to dispensing and their musical experience has led to the team being shortlisted for the prestigious Opticians Awards, Optical Assistant team of the year 2020

During March 2019, Allegro Optical was awarded the Scale-Up Business of the Year, at the regional finals of the Federation of Small Business awards in York. They then went on to receive the FSB Chairman’s award at the national finals in May. Finally winning the FBU Yorkshire family business of the year.

Allegro Optical has been featured in many national publications including The Times, 4BarsRest, The British Bandsman and Music Teacher Magazine.

If you are a musician who is struggling with their vision and making music no longer the enjoyable experience it once was, give us a call at either Greenfield on 01457 353100 or Meltham on 01484 907090.

Categories
About Allegro News

Open for routine eye care in Meltham and Saddleworth once more

Amy-and-Sheryl-in-masks we're back

We are open again and welcoming one and all

We are delighted to have finally been able to reopen our doors for routine eye-care in Greenfield and Meltham. When we say reopened, we really mean by appointment, in order to maintain the 2-metre social distancing requirement. At least we can welcome clients back for routine eye tests and essential monitoring. Since the beginning of last week, we have been able to provide routine eye-care for the first time in nearly three months.  It’s been lovely to catch up with old friends and familiar faces who we’ve missed so much during the lockdown. 

Many people have expressed surprise to see us working during the Lockdown. We felt we owed it to our clients to continue to provide our award-winning customer service, as best we could, at a very challenging time. In the last few months, we’ve been busy providing a daily emergency service to assist key workers, vulnerable residents and anyone else that needed urgent support.

Proud to support our local community by providing emergency eye-care during the pandemic

Josie Dawson of Allegro Optical answers emergency phone calls and triages optician care in Meltham and Saddleworth

From late March 2020,  despite the COVID-19 lockdown, we have been running an emergency telephone service. Our clients have been able to call us to obtain free specialist advice and if needed access urgent emergency eye-care.  Both practices received a great many telephone calls from concerned local residents and some from further afield, who were worried about their vision. All callers received advice, assistance and when necessary callers were referred to an emergency eye care centre or hospital.

In addition to the telephone triage service, members of the Allegro Optical team also provided a home delivery service, delivering many pairs of glasses to clients over the last few months.  We also hand-delivered contact lenses, solutions and pharmaceuticals.  Ensuring all our clients and some new ones whose regular opticians were closed. We wanted to be sure that everyone had all the eye-care products they needed during the lockdown.  Anyone reporting a broken frame was also supported with a remote collection, repair and return delivery service, provided by each practice. Saving people the worry and risk of venturing out at such a worrying time.

Sheryl delivering emergency repairs in Holmfirth and Saddleworth

Emergency eye care at a time of emergency

“The need for eye care doesn’t stop.  In fact, it’s incredibly important that good eye health is maintained and that any changes are picked up as early as possible, to ensure the best possible outcomes,” said Sheryl Doe, Managing Director and Dispensing Optician.  “We knew we had to continue to provide that urgent care during the lockdown and ensure our patients had access to vital eyewear too.  We are delighted to be welcoming patients back soon for private routine eye care. Albeit with a few changes to our usual service to ensure everyone’s safety.

Bouncing Back

We were also busy during the lockdown preparing the practices for a time when we could welcome our clients back. They have been making sure it would be safe to do so. Both Josie and Steve have worked hard liaising with tradesmen and engineers. Sheryl and Amy have been working to ensure that all the care provided and the procedures in both practices conform to the new and rapidly changing guidelines. These have been provided by The College of Optometrists, Association of Optometrists (AOP), The Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO), The General Optical Council and NHS England. All the team members have completed courses in COVID-19 awareness and our optometrists have all complete an infection control and prevention certificate with the AOP.

Amy and Sheryl in N95 masks for your safety

Now we are open for routine eye care we have some fabulous new offers.

All our glasses are now available with two-years breakage cover and 25% off*. We are also making good use of our state of the art 3D OCT eye scanner, meaning our optometrists can examine clients eyes in detail while maintaining social distancing. 

In each of our practices, things have changed too. So when you’re visiting don’t be surprised to find the following safety measures in place;

  • pre-appointment health screening,
  • digital temperature recording,
  • hand sanitising stations, 
  • appointment only policy, 
  • social distancing measures with marked areas, 
  • a one-way system in both stores, 
  • perspex safety screens, 
  • our whole team are wearing sterile scrubs and PPE, 
  • the installation of ozone generators to clean the air, 
  • a rigorous cleaning regime, 

You honestly couldn’t be in safer hands. 

To book your routine eye exam and to view our gorgeous selection of frames call Greenfield 01457 353100 or Meltham 01484 907090.

Categories
About Allegro Music News

If it’s not ‘Baroque’………..

Allegro Optical musician Philip Sutcliffe Violas De Gamba wears musicians glasses

Don’t fix it

As we musicians, experience is something we grow in throughout our careers. With experience comes a broader sound and often a very individual musical persona.   However, as we gain experience so at some point seeing the music on the stand becomes an issue. It doesn’t matter what instrument you play. Eventually, for most of us seeing the music on the stand or the conductor will become a challenge. At Allegro Optical, the musician’s optician, we see many keyboard players, string players, percussionists, brass and woodwind players. We’ve even been consulted by the odd bagpiper. However, it is always a pleasure to be presented with something a little different. I have to admit I do have a bit of a penchant for medieval instruments. There is something about those Rebec’s, Dulcimers and Viols which really excites me. So it is little surprise that when I first met ‘Viola da Gamba’ player Philip Sutcliffe in early 2018 I was quite excited. 

What is a Viola de Gamba

The Viola da Gamba is a mid to late 15th-century instrument which was popular in the Renaissance and Baroque (1600–1750) periods. The Viola da Gamba or Viol for short, is played with a bow and is held on the lap or between the musician’s legs. It is a  stringed musical instrument with six strings, but unlike most modern bowed instruments it has frets. Philip Sutcliffe - Viola de gamba - The musician's Optician Violas da gamba come in seven sizes: the “pardessus de viole” (which is quite rare, exclusively French and didn’t exist before the 18th century). The treble (in French dessus), the alto, the tenor (in French taille), the bass, and two sizes of contrabass (also known as a violone). The smaller bass is tuned an octave below the tenor bass (violone in G, sometimes called great bass or in French grande basse) and the larger one tuned an octave below the bass (violone in D).

Keeping everything sharp

Philip, like most enthusiasts, has quite a collection of Violas da gamba and it was my pleasure to get to see some of them. Philip returned to Allegro Optical for his bi-annual appointment just before lockdown in March 2020. Optometrist Sara Ackroyd tested Philip’s vision and found it to be very stable, but Philip fancied a change and took advantage of his stable prescription and updated both his varifocals and his specialist musician’s glasses. Having an amblyopic prescription Philip copes quite well with the image size difference between his two eyes. Amblyopia is sometimes called “lazy eye,” it is a condition that occurs in children. It occurs when one eye has poorer vision than the other. However, Philip is more troubled by his advancing presbyopia than the amblyopia. With a reading addition of 2.25 seeing the music has become a challenge in later life. Music teacher Philip also plays the keyboards and often accompanies many local musical groups. These groups include; the Millhouse Green Male voice choir, All Souls’ Amateur Operatic Society, The Halifax Gilbert and Sullivan Society and the Huddersfield Gilbert and Sullivan Society for his bi-annual appointment Sara checked Philips vision at all his working distances. After an extensive examination she was able to prescribe a correction for all his working distances. Philip opted for Power addition lenses (PAL’s) or varifocals for his everyday wear. But for music-making, he opted for our Sessione lenses. These lenses provide an unrestricted field of vision, perfect for when working in a recording studio or orchestra pit.

All framed 

Philip chose two frames, for his PAL’s he chose the Jaguar 36808 Jaguar 36808 6100and for his specialist musician’s glasses he chose the ever-popular round crystal frames Inspired by and designed in London, Hook LDN, a British company that specialises in creating high quality, style-led designs. Hook LDN HKS003 clear When Philip collected his glasses a few weeks later he was delighted and treated us all to an impromptu recital. When we asked Philip how he liked his new glasses he said: “They’re great! They are so comfortable I hardly know I’ve got them on. And now I can see my music so clearly I’ve got no excuse for all the wrong notes I play!” Philip Sutcliffe - Piano

Why do musicians come to Allegro Optical?

As an independent family run business, we are gaining an international reputation. Both for professional excellence and an inventive approach to meeting customer needs. Now known internationally as the ‘Musician’s Opticians’ we are attracting many clients from across Europe and further afield. Our groundbreaking work with performers, players and conductors have resulted in Allegro Optical becoming the first and only opticians to gain registration with the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM). We treat each client as an individual because they are. It is true that no two musicians are the same, so why should their vision correction be? We enjoy creating unique lenses to meet a musician’s particular needs. As musicians ourselves we can ask the right questions and interpret the answers accordingly.

Award-winning eye-care

We’ve been pretty successful in helping performers to #SeeTheMusic. In fact, in the last twelve months alone we have scooped no less than five national and regional awards for our work in this field. These awards include the National ‘Best New Arts & Entertainment Business of the Year at a gala event in London. Managing Director Sheryl Doe was awarded the 2019 Dispensing Optician of the Year and she was a finalist in the AOP Dispensing Optician of the year 2020. She has also reached the finals of the  National Business Women’s Awards, for the Business Owner of the Year category.  Allegro Optical’s cutting edge approach to dispensing and their musical experience has led to the team being shortlisted for the prestigious Opticians Awards, Optical Assistant team of the year 2020 During March 2019, Allegro Optical was awarded the Scale-Up Business of the Year, at the regional finals of the Federation of Small Business awards in York. They then went on to receive the FSB Chairman’s award at the national finals in May. Finally winning the FBU Yorkshire family business of the year. Allegro Optical has been featured in many national publications including The Times, 4BarsRest, The British Bandsman and Music Teacher Magazine. If you are a musician who is struggling with their vision and making music no longer the enjoyable experience it once was, give us a call at either Greenfield on 01457 353100 or Meltham on 01484 907090.
Categories
About Allegro News

PPE explained – visiting your optician – Face masks

Allegro Covid-19-response - o zone generators

Face masks explained

As we all gear up to come out of Lockdown many of us are a little confused about wearing face masks. At TheMusiciansOptician we have invested heavily in PPE and other protective equipment to keep all our clients and team safe. So we thought we would explain what PPE is available and explain what the three primary types of face masks are.

When you hear about face masks for COVID-19 prevention, it’s generally three types:
Homemade cloth face mask
Surgical mask
N95 respirator
Let’s explore each of them in a little more detail below.

The homemade cloth face mask

To help prevent the spread of the virus the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now recommending that we should all wear cloth face masks while in public places, such as the supermarket.

Homemade facemasks

This is because it’s often difficult to maintain a 6-foot distance from others. CDC recommends that most of us (except for those in at-risk groups) wear these masks in addition to continued social distancing and proper hygiene practices.

Surgical masks

These are disposable, loose-fitting face masks, they cover your nose, mouth, and chin. We will be using these to protect our team members from sprays, splashes, and large-particle droplets. We will also have these masks available for our clients to wear during their visit, should they wish.

Surgical facemasks

The surgical masks help to prevent the spread of potentially infectious respiratory secretions from the wearer to others.
These masks can vary in design, but the surgical mask itself is often flat and rectangular in shape with pleats or folds.
At the top of the mask, there is a small metal strip that can be formed to your nose. Straight ties or elastic help to hold a surgical mask in place while being worn. These can either be looped behind your ears or tied behind your head.

N95 respirator

This mask is much more tight-fitting. In addition to splashes, sprays, and large droplets, this mask can also filter out 95% of very small particles including viruses and bacteria.

N95 facemasks

All our staff will wear these to protect you and with all the other safety measures in practice you can rest assured we take client safety very seriously.

Categories
About Allegro Music News

Now Conductor Mark Peacock can #SeeTheMusic

Conductor-Mark-Peacock-in-Greenfield wears musicians glasses

It’s music to Marks eyes and ears

Coming from a large brass banding family, Mark Peacock MA, BA. (Hons), PGCE picked up the cornet at an early age. In his formative years, Mark played in the local Salvation Army band before moving onto flugelhorn and joining the Tyldesley Band. Mark first crossed paths with Allegro Optical Managing Director and professional conductor Stephen Tighe, in the early 1990s when he joined Bedford Leigh Band. Steve had been conducting the band since 1989 and he happily welcomed such a talented young player. 

Conductor Mark Peacock can now see the music musicians eye test musicians visionMark went on to study music at Salford University. He became the first “brass bander” to graduate with a 1st class honours degree. Mark then returned in 2007 to complete his Masters. Whilst at university he was invited to join the newly formed Yorkshire Building Society Band, now Hammonds Saltaire Band. It was at this point that Steve and Mark went their separate ways, but certainly didn’t become strangers.  In 1996 Mark fulfilled his lifelong ambition and joined the ranks of the Fairey Band cornet section, enjoying a great deal of concert and contest successes.

A bright future

With such an excellent pedigree it is no surprise that Mark has had a very successful Head of Music / Head of Year / Head of Faculty in a Cheshire comprehensive school for 17 years. He is now a self-employed musician with Wigan Music Service, an examiner and an associate lecturer for Manchester Metropolitan University. Marks conducting career began in 2003, when he was appointed Music Director of the Pemberton Old Band. Here he had a string of successful concert and contest outings, the highlight of which was the bands’ victory in the 2004 1st Section National Championships, thereby returning the band to the championship section. Since then Mark has been the resident conductor of Wingates and The Fairey Band. 

Musicians vision restored bad eye sight poor vision can't see the music

In 2010 Mark was asked to take The Longridge Band to the North West Area Contest and then on a more permanent basis.

Mark has always been blessed with good vision and has always been able to read a conductor’s score with ease. However, Mark was becoming increasingly frustrated as he was struggling to focus on the music on his stand. He had tried reading glasses but these were only really any good for reading music from the lyre. Unable to find a satisfactory solution, Mark often enlarged the score to make it more comfortable. He realised that he needed to see the score and the band clearly. Brian Law Musician tuba player Longridge Band see the music musicians optician varifocal spectacles

On the recommendation of  Bb Bass player Brian Law,  Mark came to visit us at Allegro Optical in Saddleworth.

Seeing the light

Our Optometrist and Flautist Amy Ogden, conducted a thorough eye examination and measured all Marks working distances. Amy found Mark is slightly myopic with bilateral  oblique astigmatism and he also requires a moderate reading addition. In short, Mark was experiencing the early symptoms of presbyopia. 

Following his eye examination, Mark and Dispensing Optician Sheryl Doe worked together to create the perfect spectacles for Marks needs. He has so many specific working distances. So single-vision spectacles, bifocals or occupational lenses, were not a viable solution. A standard varifocal wasn’t really an answer either, as he needs such a wide field of view. Mark has to be able to scan a large conductors score while still being able to see all the musicians he is conducting. Usually about 30 people. Conductors’ scores are usually 60cm wide by 21cm high and on a stand which often Mark varies the height. This changes according to the ensemble he is working with and the type of music being played. Mark needs to be able to see every musician’s part clearly so any area of distortion would be unacceptable. 

Mark chose a lovely Evatik supra frame in blue. The choice of a supra frame works well for anyone in Mark’s profession, as the frame provides a clear view right to the bottom of the lens, with no distracting bottom rim. Sheryl extended the depth of the lenses to give Mark a much deeper field of view that enables him to see the score on the conductor’s stand, no matter how low he has it set. Once they had chosen the frame Sheryl set about dispensing the lenses. She based Mark’s lens design on our Performers OV lens , but adapted it to provide Mark with clear distance vision as well as providing him with the best possible vision when working. The Performers OV lens provides musicians with a wide visual field and gives relaxed vision in this case up to 100 metres or more. 

Testing times

Mark collected his glasses quite a few weeks later as the Coronavirus lockdown caused quite a few delays. Like at many businesses, our surfacing and glazing lab had to place the majority of their staff on furlough. They have worked with a skeleton staff to fulfil orders while maintaining social distancing. 

Conductor Mark Peacock in Allegro Optical Opticians Greenfield

Never before have our lens lab colleagues had to reshape and adapt so quickly. To protect the team members who suddenly found themselves working under the most difficult and potentially hazardous circumstances. Operating with a minimal team, they were able to complete most orders, but it did take much longer than usual, but we are very grateful for their efforts. 

Seeing is believing

When he collected his glasses Mark commented on the improvement they made. He said; “I’m absolutely delighted with the glasses that Allegro Opticians prescribed for me. They fully understood my requirements and took great care and concern that my needs were met. As a conductor, having a clear view of both the music and ensemble, without any lack of clarity was impossible before, but now both key elements have been addressed. I cannot praise the service and help I received from Sheryl and her team. They are knowledgeable, approachable and understanding. A first class company who I recommend to any musician. Thank you so much!”

Why do musicians come to Allegro Optical?

As an independent family run business, we are gaining an international reputation for professional excellence and an inventive approach to meeting customer needs.

Now known internationally as the ‘Musician’s Opticians’ we are attracting many clients from across Europe and further afield. Our groundbreaking work with performers, players and conductors has resulted in Allegro Optical becoming the first and only opticians to gain registration with the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM).

We treat each client as an individual because they are. It is true that no two musicians are the same, so why should their vision correction be? We enjoy creating unique lenses to meet a musician’s particular needs. As musicians ourselves we can ask the right questions and interpret the answers accordingly.

Award-winning eye-care

We’ve been pretty successful in helping performers to #SeeTheMusic. In fact, in the last twelve months alone we have scooped no less than five national and regional awards for our work in this field. These awards include the National ‘Best New Arts & Entertainment Business of the Yearat a gala event in London. Managing Director Sheryl Doe was awarded the 2019Dispensing Optician of the Year and she was a finalist in the AOP Dispensing Optician of the year 2020.  Allegro Optical’s cutting edge approach to dispensing and their musical experience has led to the team being shortlisted for the prestigious Opticians Awards, Optical Assistant team of the year 2020 which again due to Coronavirus has been postponed

During March 2019, Allegro Optical was awarded the ‘Scale-Up Business of the Year‘, at the regional finals of the Federation of Small Business awards in York. They then went on to receive the FSB Chairman’s award at the national finals in May. Finally winning the FBU Yorkshire family business of the year.

Allegro Optical has been featured in many national publications including The Times, 4BarsRest, The British Bandsman and Music Teacher Magazine.

If you are a musician who is struggling with their vision and making music no longer the enjoyable experience it once was, give us a call at either Greenfield on 01457 353100 or Meltham on 01484 907090.