James Brooks talks to Cory Band’s Tommy Tynan

Allegro Optical’s James Brooks, talks to Cory Band Principal Eb Tuba player, Tommy Tynan. They cover topics from how Tommy started playing, to how his new glasses from Allegro Optical have helped not only with his playing, but in everyday life as well.

JB: “First of all Tommy, can you tell us how you ended up playing Eb bass? Having known you for many years, I know myself it’s not been the most conventional route, but could you tell our followers how it all happened?”

TT: “I guess I was always destined to play the Tuba. I had always played brass as a child but every instrument I tried was just too small! I then took some time playing percussion, where I met you at Dobcross Band when I was 12 years old. I found a tuba in the storage room at Dobcross and began to just mess around on it, until I decided to apply for the Junior RNCM and I needed to take it a bit more seriously! So on very short notice, I asked James for help on a piece of music I chose for my audition and my relationship with the Tuba officially began. I joined local top section band, Marsden Silver (conducted by my current Cory Band colleague Glyn Williams) on percussion whilst still playing the Tuba in other settings. A year down the line, we were missing a few bass players at a rehearsal on Harmony Music for the “areas”. So I picked up an old mouthpiece off the shelf in Marsden band room and did the rehearsal on bass. I remember the mouthpiece being filled with mould and I was ill for days after! After this Glyn decided to give me an opportunity in the band on Bb Bass. This then became my chosen instrument for years, until eventually I decided to get my degree from Huddersfield University where I started to play the Eb Bass a lot more and do a lot more practice!” 

JB: “What do you enjoy about music making and playing in a brass band?”

TT: “It’s always been my passion. When I was in school and all the kids my age used to meet on a Friday night, I was at band practice. I’ve always devoted my spare time to it and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I love the buzz of competition, making good music and the social side of it. I tried following a more orchestral path in my mid/late teens but I just wasn’t interested. I didn’t feel the same buzz as I did in a brass band. It’s just “my thing”! I’m very privileged to be able to perform around the world with the Cory Band, having performed in South Korea, Austria and France in my first year with the band, and more overseas trips booked in next year. The things you can experience playing in a band of any level, not just the top, is second-to-none.”

JB: “So when was it you first started wearing glasses?”

TT: “I was in my 3rd year at university studying music when I noticed some strain on my eyes. I spent a lot of my time either playing, conducting or arranging music, especially during the pandemic when there wasn’t much else to do, so I was constantly using my eyes to concentrate on the music in front of me. In February 2022 I was on my way back from a rehearsal with Fairey Band when I really noticed some pain in my eyes. I had to sit with my eyes closed the whole way home. I spoke to you and you advised me to go for an eye test, and shortly after I received my prescription. I now wear glasses when reading music – whether performing, conducting or arranging – and when driving, especially at night. Although I don’t feel like my eyesight is at a really bad level, I’d rather start to take care of my eyes now than suffer in a number of years’ time.”

JB: “What effect did the poor vision and eye problems have on your daily regime as a musician and have you found that things have become more challenging as you get older?”

TT: “It’s definitely affected my regime. I found myself struggling to read some music without glasses, and just missing the occasional note disrupted my practice on a daily basis, especially when playing music which was written/printed a long time ago. Without even knowing, I was squinting quite a lot whilst playing and this put a lot of strain on my eyes.”

JB: “Were you aware that musicians had specialist needs, before discovering Allegro Optical?”

TT: “Visiting Allegro Optical was quite literally eye-opening for me. I’d only ever had one eye test in adulthood previously, and they didn’t understand my needs at all. You guys quite simply understand my needs as a musician. You tested my eyes in all the same ways as the other place but also reading music, checked the distance between my eyes and where I have my music stand, and also tested my eyes whilst in a playing scenario. There’s no doubt you are experts in your field and niche.”

JB: “So what difference would you say your new glasses have made to your playing and your banding?”

TT: “I honestly can’t stress this enough, but it’s made a world of difference. Within no time my eyes felt a lot more relaxed and the music was a lot clearer than I remember it being for years. This makes a huge impact with the amount of performing and arranging I do. Even more so with the Cory Band, where we play so much new music for publishers, new composers and CDs. I can’t get away with already being familiar with the music so my sight-reading needs to be on point.  This means my vision is really important in these times.”

JB: “Finally, can you see how performing arts eye-care can be of benefit to prolonging musical careers?”

TT: “Absolutely. It’s clear you guys are masters of your niche and the advice and services you can offer a musician and their vision is second-to-none.”

JB: “Well Tommy, it’s been a pleasure. Thanks for chatting with me and I hope all goes well with your music career down at Cory Band. It’s a truly magnificent achievement to hold the Principal Eb Tuba seat at a band like Cory and much deserved.”

TT: “Thanks James! I’m sure I’ll see you on the contest circuit before I come back for my next sight test!”

AMD and the performing artist

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a degenerative eye disease that can significantly impact the lives and careers of performing artists, particularly musicians. The disease progresses

Read More »