Harp-y to help Joan see the music and more

Harpist Joan wears musicians glasses when playing her harp

Harpist Joan’s journey to see the music

After twelve months of rising COVID19 cases and over 100,000 COVID19 deaths, many of us are hoping we are now seeing a return to some normality. It has been a strange year at Allegro Optical. Particularly as millions of people all over the country began working from home. Millions more, including most of those working in the performing arts, were furloughed. The Musicians’ Optician switched from performing arts eye care to providing emergency care as the country was plunged into lockdown. Since then we have seen a reemergence with increasing social distancing measures. The introduction of a tier system across the UK and then another national lockdown. One major difference between the first and latest lockdown was the ongoing advice given in May 2020. That everyone continues their routine healthcare appointments.   Many performers, particularly amateurs, are yet to return to the rehearsal room and the stage. But many are practising at home. We are beginning to see a steady return of our performing arts clients, one, in particular, is Harpist Joan Dearnley. 

Essential eyecare

Joan visited Allegro Optical in early October as she was having problems with her near vision in her right eye. Increasingly Joan was experiencing eye strain, she was struggling to shift her focus from an intermediate distance to near. General reading and computer work were becoming problematic. Joan also found that when playing her harp she could read the music but not accidentals and dynamic markings. Even though Joan was only playing in the comfort of her own home things were becoming challenging.  A low Myope with moderate astigmatism Joan is also presbyopic and relies on progressive lenses for her everyday tasks and playing. After a detailed consultation with Bapam Registered Optometrist, Amy Ogden, Amy found that Joan has early cataracts in both eyes and as a result a small prescription change. Having calculated a prescription for everyday use and for making music Amy and Dispensing Optician Sheryl Doe set about designing a pair of lenses for Joan to play in. 

What’s so different about correcting a Harpists vision?

On the page harp music looks very similar to piano music, however, there are differences. Like all sheet music, Joan needs to see the sheet music on her music stand including the accidentals, and dynamics but she also needs to see the fingering instructions.  As expected Sheryl and Amy opted for the Arpista lens for the left eye and a Fagotto CR lens for the right. The Arpista or Harpist’s lenses have an outward set near vision area to enable harpists to see their top strings easily while still being able to see the sheet music on the stand and the conductor.  It was necessary to calculate Joan’s ocular dominance, as we were asking Joan’s two eyes to work differently when performing different tasks. This is something we do frequently, to allow performers to carry out the many visual tasks required by their craft. When Joan collected her new glasses she was pleased to find that the music on the stand was much clearer. 

Something for everyday

Joan used her new musician’s glasses for four months and was so pleased with them she contacted us in February to order a pair of progressive lenses, (varifocals), for her everyday tasks. Joan had seen a frame when she visited in October and we had her measurements on record. It was pretty straightforward to produce these spectacles for Joan and she was delighted with the result when she collected them. 

From the Harpist’s mouth

When asked about her experience with Allegro Optical and her new glasses she said; “The near sight in my right eye began to deteriorate in January last year. For the first time ever I couldn’t read my harp music, see the bass strings (or anything else in close range) without getting quite severe eye strain. My local optician prescribed varifocals, which really didn’t help – especially for reading music, which has to be a ‘harp length’ away.  “By mid-October, when I contacted Allegro Opticians. I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever be able to cope with reading harp easily music again. My first specialist appointment (2 hours I think) became almost a whole afternoon; Sheryl and Amy, with endless patience, took time to test my sight. They measured the distance from me to my music stand and Harp strings. Taking in further distances for looking at a conductor or other players. Most importantly Sheryl and Amy understand the special needs musicians have when reading music. They understand our need to look from instrument to conductor, back to the music, and so on. By the end of the afternoon, I was looking forward to getting not just one pair of harp music-reading specs. But also a pair of half-frames for reading piano music (which I find are equally useful when using my laptop). Also, to my great surprise in a style of red and blue frame, I would never have thought I’d like.  “For any harpists struggling to read the music and see their harp strings I can’t recommend Allegro highly enough”. 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 ‘Musicians 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

So successful has Allegro Optical been in helping performers in 2019 alone we have scooped no less than five national and regional awards. 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‘. In 2020 SME News awarded Allegro Optical the accolade of West Yorkshire’s Most Trusted Family Run Eye Care Clinic, 2020. The company has been featured in many national publications including The Times 4BarsRest, The British Bandsman and Music Teacher Magazine. Sheryl has recently been named as a judge in this years SME National Business Awards Are you are a musician who is struggling with their vision? Is making music is no longer the enjoyable experience it once was? If so call us at either Greenfield on 01457 353100 or Meltham on 01484 907090.

The dangers of mascara

Halloween, Bonfire night, Christmas, New Years – there’s so much going on during this time of year, and it’s filled with parties, meals out, and

Read More »