Now The Beat Goes On, For A Talented Pianist and Timpanist

Pianist and Timpanist Cheryl Bratkowski wanted to see the music

When playing timpani at the back of an orchestra, it can be very difficult to see the conductor at the front. Conductor’s batons are often a natural wood colour, which is hard to see, especially if a conductor wears a light-coloured shirt or jacket.

Cheryl Bratkowski like all good timpanists or percussion players has a superb sense of rhythm. She also has an instinct for drama and a feeling for the ensemble. However, sometimes she has to anticipate playing a wide variety of percussion instruments, relying on what she sees (the conductor’s beat, because she’s usually at the back of the stage where she experiences a slight time lag. If the conductor isn’t clear this makes things very difficult for Cheryl. Add to that, a problem with seeing the written music and Cheryl was really struggling.

Why Allegro?

Cheryl contacted Allegro Optical on the recommendation of two colleagues (a cellist and vioalaist) who had been delighted with the results their new glasses had given them. In addition to being a very talented Timpanist, Cheryl is also an accomplished pianist. She regularly accompanies students during their exams and again for this, she needs a wide field of view, as she is often playing and watching the student. Cheryl frequently also plays a Grand Piano and on these occasions, she uses an elevated music stand and has to glance frequently between the student, the examiner and see her the music.
Pianist Cheryl Bratkowski buys her glasses from Allegro Optical, The Musicians' in Meltham

An articulato solution

A high myope with pronounced astigmatism in her right eye Cheryl’s prescription is far from straightforward. The lens for her right eye will always carry a higher than average amount of distortion, so dispensing even freeform varifocal lenses would not have sufficed.  Because of the many working distances and varied music stand distances, designing Cheryl’s music lenses took quite a bit of planning to ensure both eyes worked together and gave Cheryl the widest possible field of view. We ran a couple of models and eventually settled on a completely bespoke design,  which gave her a wide field while maintaining plenty of depth at her music stand and a nice wide field for the conductor.

Pianist Cheryl Bratkowski buys her glasses from Allegro Optical, The Musicians' in Meltham

To complement her music glasses we dispensed Cheryl with a pair of Rodenstock Impression 1.67 lenses, with a solitaire Protect Coating to use on a daily basis.  Cheryl has been using her music glasses for some time now. When asked about her glasses she said: “At last I can see the conductor, music and the indices on the timps-all with the same glasses!”


Musicians can present the Dispensing Optician with a great many challenges. Mainly because of their varied working distances and strict seating positions. However, adding Cheryl’s high prescription and pronounced astigmatism in one eye, things became even more challenging. But as musicians ourselves, we’re able to ask the right questions and interpret the answers to create a truly unique pair of lenses. Using our combined optical and musical skills addressed and resolved the many visual problems Cheryl encountered.

As a specialist independent optical team, we are able to produce individual solutions to suit many musicians and performers needs. We work closely with the surfacing and glazing laboratory to give our musician’s’ the very best solution available. This service is not available anywhere else and we approach the problem in a completely different way to any other Opticians’. By looking at the vision problems from the musician’s perspective we are able to solve their many visual challenges.  Our unique lens designs enable us to design a solution to suit all types of performers and we have built up a considerable following of performing arts professionals as a result.

Allegro Optical Opticians in Meltham The Musicians' Optician

Award WInning Eye Care

In less than two years Allegro Optical Opticians has been shortlisted for the Yorkshire and Humberside Federation of Small Businesses, Celebrating Small Business Awards, for the Start-up Business of the Year category. Our Co-founder and Dispensing Optician Sheryl Doe has also reached the finals of the Opticians Awards Dispensing Optician  Of The Year award, one of only three professionals to do so. We are proud winners of the Eaton Smith Business of the Month award, an award given in conjunction with the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce and The Department for International Trade. We have also been shortlisted in three categories of the 2018 National Best New Business Awards.

ALLEGRO OPTICAL IN MELTHAM are optician_awards_finalist_image Allegro Optical Opticians in Meltham finalists in the FSB Awards

Allegro Optical are winners of the Eaton Smith BOTM

Allegro Optical Opticians are finalists in the Best New Business Awards

At Allegro Optical we are passionate about helping to correct the specific visual problems faced by musicians and performers. We provide a range of tailor-made solutions and services including our on-site vision assessments. Using specialist optical technology our team of professionals can visit any musical institution to help those affected by reduced visual clarity. Our team has built up a broad client base, from professional classical musicians to members of well-known brass bands and many keen amateurs. We have also helped music teachers, performers, TV presenters and many keen amateur musicians of all genres. We love helping musicians to see their music again and in turn extending their playing careers.

If you are a musician and you are struggling with your vision call us on 01484 907090.

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 »