My journey to see the music – A guest blog by Bassoonist Michele Hickie

A Bassoonist’s vision and her journey to see the music

Here we have our first guest blog from a very happy client. Read our guest blog by Bassoonist Michele Hickie from Phoenix Concert Band. Michele talks all about her musician‘s journey to find the right glasses to help her.

September 2017

A new term is ahead with concerts for the Christmas period in West Yorkshire. In the dimly lit practice venue of one of my regular woodwind ensembles, I began to realise that my eyesight was gradually beginning to let me down. As a bassoonist in my early 50’s, I had coped well with single focal lens glasses for close up reading work such as
manuscript, but I was now struggling with long distance too. When you miss the conductor’s cue with the baton or don’t realise that you are being talked to with tuition over phrasing due to failing vision, then something had to be done to improve the overall enjoyment of music performance.

Michele Hickie - Bassoonist at Allegro Optical The Musicians Optician
I initially went to my regular local optician who tried to find a suitable lens to read music and be able to focus 2-3 metres away on the conductor. The lens that was chosen for me was an office-style lens for near and far work in a static position. They were unsuitable for playing the bassoon as the head and eyes are moving quickly to scan in all directions and vision is also partially obscured by the bassoon.

The next step

I went home feeling very disheartened, emotional and passionate about the importance in getting lenses correct for my music enjoyment. I searched online with questions and eventually came upon a specialist company called Allegro Optical in Meltham, near Holmfirth, West Yorkshire who specialise in musicians with similar problems like mine. After several emails and lovely friendly conversation on the phone with Sheryl Doe, I went to Meltham with my bassoon. I spent a thorough two hours having an eye test, measuring all angles and distances sat with the bassoon in playing position in front of a music stand with the manuscript. The staff were so friendly and helpful and bent over backwards to get the prescription correct.

Although a little sceptical as to whether the prescription would be correct, I waited with anticipation. A few weeks later, Sheryl contacted me and said that she would be in the area and would come to my house to deliver the new lenses.  So I set up my instrument and stand and put on the glasses while Sheryl stood 2-3 metres away. I could see clearly the A4 manuscript, play and see her conducting when I had to scan up from the music stand. I have been trialling the lenses now for the last month and I am very happy with them. I can read the manuscript and follow the conductor who I’ve never seen so clearly before!  I use the glasses much more and for longer periods.


A big thank you

I would like to say a big thank you to all the staff at Allegro Optical for being so helpful and persevering to get the prescription correct for my needs. I have been using them most days this week in different music environments. The outcome is that I can read both my music and see the conductor clearly.  A miracle! In fact, the conductor is crystal clear all the time and I don’t have to work at all there, I’ve never seen him so clear before!

I now know that I can continue to enjoy performing music for many more years to come. I will definitely recommend Allegro Optical to other musicians with similar needs as mine.

Michele Hickie

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