A year with the Musician’s Optician. Helping musicians to See The Music – Part four

As the leaves begin to fall, we look at Allegro Autumn and the music


As autumn arrived we were still keeping busy helping musicians to see the music. During October we helped two Clarinetists, two violinists, a Cellist, a Guitarist, a saxophonist, a Television Presenter, a Pianist, a French Horn Player, a String Bassist, a cornet player, a Tuba player, a Trombonist, an oboist and two conductors. Choreographer George Balanchine famously said; “See the music, hear the dance”. But what does a musicians do when they can no longer see the music they have to play? That was a question violinist Richard Bottom asked himself when he moved desks. Richard plays for Slaithwaite Philharmonic Orchestra and began to struggle with the symptoms of presbyopia when he moved his position within the ensemble. Suddenly Richards eyes we’re giving him clear vision of the music. Following the eye test with optometrist Sara Ackroyd, Richard then had a meeting with Dispensing Optician Sheryl. She dispensed Richard with our Fogotto lenses to give the best field of view, especially as his head movement is limited when playing the violin. When looking from the music on the desk up to the conductor, Richard can only move his eyes. He also needs to be able to see the music on the desk of the player in front of him. On trying the new lenses Richard was delighted and very confident.

Thumbs up

A few days later a  group of us from Allegro Optical went to see Slaithwaite Philharmonic Orchestra with an evening of  Magic and Reimagining; featuring Prokofiev, Suite from Lieutenant Kije. While there the team caught up with Richard during the interval and asked him how he was getting on with his new glasses.  He said; They are fantastic! Slaithwaite Phil are renowned for taking risks with the programmes they perform and the complexity of some of the music we tackle means you have to be able to see not only the music on the stand but everything else going on around. Two of the pieces we played tonight were new to me and, for the first time for ages I have been able to become totally absorbed in  the music and performance because I haven’t been struggling to see. Considering I only picked the glasses up two days ago that is quite remarkable“

EEb Bass Player Peter plays in Mono

It’s always nice to catch up with a musical friend and EEb Bass player Peter Minshull from Cheshire has become just that. Having visited Allegro Optical in the past and being one of our early clients purchasing a pair of specialist musicians glasses. It was lovely to see him again when he visited us for his yearly check.

It’s not always better in stereo

Peter who is presbyopic, also has a strong right eye dominance, the tendency to prefer visual input from one eye to the other. This is a bit of a challenge for an EEb Bass player. The large bell of the instrument partially obscures his field of view. This  means he has to read the music with his non dominant eye. This can present as his right eye was dominating his vision and his brain was processing the right image by preference. We resolved this by suppressing Peter’s dominance. Preventing the right eye from disturbing his vision of the music on the stand. We dispensed a monocular solution which allowed Peter a clear view of the conductor. In his right lens we also gave him a little notation field to the bottom of the lens. While in the left we concentrated on giving the widest field at music stand distance. Both lenses are fully personalised freeform lenses, manufactured using the latest digital ray-path technology, to maximise visual performance.

An excellent result

Thankfully Peter adapted really quickly. After an initial adjustment period to his new prescription, his vision seemed to settle very quickly. All our musicians lenses come with a full guarantee, just like all varifocals. If it isn’t perfect the first time, we will change the design until it is. Peter was back at the practice a couple of weeks later when his wife came to collect her new glasses. While there he commented on the wide field of view he has of the music on his stand. We asked him how he was getting along with his new glasses and he said; “I was becoming increasingly frustrated by High Street opticians who could only offer what they called ‘work’ glasses (intermediate/long distance varifocals) which did not work for reading music and seeing the conductor clearly.  When I met Sheryl at the Blackpool area band contest it was a ‘no-brainer’. To go to an optician who not only understood the problems musicians have, but are very capable of solving these problems. My latest glasses work very well – when I first started using them it was obvious that I was using my left eye to read the music, rather than my right eye which I had previously. However, having used them for a little while now I have become accustomed to them. I now don’t notice which I eye I am using. All I notice is that the music is always in focus no matter what size of the print.”


As the time ticked by and the festive season loomed ever nearer we kept busy looking after two more Clarinetists, a Saxophonist, a Baritone player, a Pianist, a conductor, two Tuba Players, three Cornet players, a Flautist, a Trombonist, two Dancers and a Radio Presenter. We were busy, busy, busy!

Double trouble for a musical duo – A couples search for specialist musician’s glasses

Conductor and Tuba player Marcus Jones and his partner, Louise Crane rang to book an appointment together. Louise complained of some eye strain with her current glasses, she felt it was time to seek a new prescription. We dispensed Louise with specialist musicians glasses with lenses from our turba range, as she still has relatively low adds. We did however want to balance her vision as best we could to make playing, conducting and life in general as easy as possible. The higher add was given for her left and less accommodative eye. While we have kept the addition to a minimum for the dominant right eye.    When asked about her new glasses Louise, who conducts the Middleton youth band and plays soprano cornet for the main band, said; “I’m loving my musicians glasses! I was a bit skeptical at first having always had a single vision lens. But the Allegro team took the time to carefully tailor my new prescription and lenses really well. The eye strain and headaches I was experiencing have completely gone and I can now see fine print and music much more clearly, highly recommended.”

The man in the middle

Next in the chair was Marcus, current Music Director of Dove Holes Brass Band and talented Tuba player. Marcus is mildly short sighted and can see the music on his stand fairly well without his glasses. However taking specs on and off during rehearsals isn’t very practical. Like Louise we dispensed Marcus with two pairs of specialist musicians glasses. Both with Turba lenses to help with transitioning between the two working distances When he collected his new glasses Marcus commented on how comfortable they were in comparison to his old tight fitting spectacles. In fact Marcus went on to say; I’d recommend Allegro Optical Ltd to all glasses wearers musicians or not, their care and understanding goes above and beyond.”  Thank you.

A very specific problem for a Trombonist who just wanted to see the music

Trombonist Graham just wanted to see the music

Trombonist Graham Palmer from Wiltshire laid down a very specific challenge for us. Graham told us that he was noticing that the staves on his sheet music were merging into each other. For non musical readers, a stave is a set of five horizontal lines and four spaces used in Western musical notation to represent a different musical pitch. Sight reading had become very problematic for Graham as trying to distinguish which line he should be playing was almost impossible. As musicians, we usually enjoy playing a new piece, but this was far from a treat for Graham.

The Solution

We dispensed Graham with a pair of digital freeform lenses with prism. Specifically for music stand distance, incorporating a prismatic element. Graham found the new lenses to be better than the previous pair. He does still have to move his head a little, but his vision is much improved and he can enjoy making music again.

The verdict

I heard from Graham a few weeks after he had received his new glasses and he said;Simply put without Optical Allegro I would have had to stop playing. Two pairs of music glasses from a well known high street optician did not help. I was left  feeling as if the end of my playing had arrived I contacted Optical Allegro. The difference was enormous!  Nothing was too much trouble and they went that extra mile for me. Thank you Sheryl and all your staff for being so friendly, supportive and caring to both myself and my wife”. 

Specialist musicians glasses help a very musical couple

Making music is a wonderful thing and something that many couples love to share. Vivienne and Brian Murphy are no exception to this. Vivienne plays the clarinet and saxophone, while Brian’s instruments are the baritone horn, valved trombone and piano. While Brian has played the piano and baritone horn for some time, he had only recently taken up the valved trombone. The couple began making music together after they had retired and it’s a pastime they thoroughly enjoy. Mastering a new instrument is one thing. However, it is even more difficult when seeing the music on the stand is problematic.   Vivienne and Brian first visited Allegro Optical opticians last year, having heard about our specialism with musicians. Vivienne is an experienced varifocal wearer.  While they were fine for everyday visual tasks, they didn’t provide a good enough field of view when she was playing. Following a comprehensive eye examination, our Optometrist, who has some experience of playing the Saxophone herself, completely understood Vivienne’s predicament and was able to find a prescription to solve her focusing problems.

Annual Check

Jump forward twelve months and Brian and Vivienne returned to Allegro Optical for an annual check. It was so nice to catch up and hear about what they are playing and how they are getting along. As musicians ourselves we like to hear what pieces people are working on about any concerts which they may have coming up. While we were chatting we asked Brian and Vivienne how they liked their music glasses. Vivienne said: “These glasses have helped me a lot with my music. I now no longer misread the notes as I did when using my varifocal’s. So they have improved my standard of play.  I also was surprised to find that they are really useful when I use my computer.” Brian added;I am very pleased with these glasses.  They are particularly effective when I have to share a music stand in band practice.” December As de-icing the cars became an everyday occurrence and the festive decorations went up we continued to stay busy. With a stream of musicians from a few Faultists and  Guitarists, a Cellist, a French Horn Player a few Clarinetists and two Pianists.

An Army musicians search for specialist musicians’ glasses

An accomplished clarinetist, Lorraine Bontoft has joined The Band of The Royal Logistic Corps. This is no small undertaking and requires an extensive training requirement and a good level of fitness. The band regularly undertake a varied programme of engagements, such as; regimental dinners, concerts, church services, parades and marching displays. 

Lorraine needed to see the music

Having always had relatively good vision Lorraine only needed to use glasses occasionally for close work. However, the varied focusing distance required of a military musician presented her with a problem which is very familiar to us at Allegro Optical. Lorraine needed to see her music on the stand, her conductor, her music on her lyre when in marching band and a good view in her periphery.  When Lorraine visited her optician, they suggested she try varifocal lenses. Unfortunately this wasn’t ideal and she struggled to get along with them. Marching and playing proved to be exceptionally difficult. Having had three sight tests in four months Lorraine was at the end of her tether and she began to look for a solution on the internet. We will be featuring Lorraine’s case study here soon, so watch this space. Keep your eyes peels for more December case studies soon.          

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