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Outstanding performance from start to finish – A blog by violinist Richard Bottom of Slaithwaite Philharmonic Orchestra

A violinist’s view

We love to receive feedback, good and maybe not so good, it is all helpful and helps us to grow and improve our business and products. We’re even happier when a happy customer offers to write a blog about their experience. In this blog Violinist Richard Bottom from Slaithwaite Philharmonic Orchestra talks all about his journey to find the right glasses to help him see the music.

Violinist Richard Bottom at Huddersfield town hall with Sheryl from ALlegro Optical, the musicians optician

Struggling to see music

I decided to give Allegro Opticians a try after reading their claims and some of the testimonials on their website.

I have been struggling to see music when playing my violin and viola for several years. My normal varifocals just didn’t work when playing. I tried single lens glasses, which were fine for reading the music in front of me, but didn’t work playing in the orchestra. My regular optician suggested bi focals but these made me feel sick.

Things came to a head in July Slaithwaite Philharmonic Orchestra were reading through Beethoven’s Eroica, a symphony which, for some reason I had never played and was really looking forward to doing. I struggled to see the music so much I went home in tears, convinced my playing days in an orchestra were over.

Looking for a solution

The following day I rang Allegro and made an appointment for later that same day. It was clear from the outset that Allegro were different from other opticians and really did understand the quite complex requirements for glasses for musicians.

The initial eye test was thorough, similar to what you would expect from any other examination. 

What followed, however is in my opinion what makes Allegro stand out from the crowd.

Next came a detailed discussion took place with Sheryl Doe, the dispensing optician. Sheryl covered all aspects of what I needed to be able to see. And it didn’t stop there. Violin out, music on stand, distances I needed to be able to see at measured:

  • height of the music on the stand, 
  • how far away the conductor was, 
  • distance to the desk in front (for copying bowings during rehearsal), 
  • writing on my own part. 
  • tracking my eye movement to see which parts of the lens I was using when playing. 

You name it, it was checked and double checked.

 

Seeing is believing

And the attention to detail continued. When the glasses came back from the factory Sheryl wasn’t happy with them. Slight changes were made and the lenses re-made till she was satisfied they would do the job. Even then I was sent home to play and make sure I was completely happy.

The glasses are not cheap, around what you would pay for high end varifocals. But the end result is, I now have a pair of glasses I previously thought it was impossible to make. As a result I can look forward to playing again. Allegro really do understand the needs of musicians and their attention to detail is outstanding.

I have no reservations whatsoever in recommending them to anyone looking for an optician who will go that extra mile to get it right and would like to thank all their staff for their professionalism and help.

Why do musicians come to Allegro Optical?

As an independent family run business we are gaining an international reputation 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 a field. 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 to provide the very best glasses for musicians.

Award-winning eye-care

So successful has Allegro Optical been in helping performers that this year 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‘ and she has been shortlisted for the AOP Dispensing Optician of the year 2020.

During March Allegro Optical was awarded the ‘Scale-Up Business of the Year‘ at the regional finals of the Federation of Small Business awards in York and went on to receive the FSB Chairman’s award at the national finals in May. Finally winning the FBU Yorkshire family business of the year. Allegro Optical’s unique optical solution and our cutting edge approach to dispensing has led to the group being named finalists in the Huddersfield Examiners Business Awards in the Innovation and Enterprise category.

Allegro Optical the musicians optician Sheryl winning Dispensing Optician of the Year 2019 Award for their work with Musicians eye care

The company has been featured in many national publications including The Times 4BarsRest, The British Bandsman and Music Teacher Magazine.

Are you are a musician who is struggling with their vision? Is making music is no longer the enjoyable experience it once was? Are you looking for the perfect pair of glasses for musicians? If so call us at either Greenfield on 01457 353100 or Meltham on 01484 907090.

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Nouvelle “Entente Cordiale” lorsqu’Agnès, joueuse de cornemuse, cherche du côté de Saddleworth et Holmfirth pour résoudre ses problèmes de vue.

Un bon nombre de musiciens dépités nous contactent par téléphones et quelques-uns sur notre site Internet. À l’occasion, une requête nous donne à réfléchir, ce qui a bien été le cas quand Agnès Lefèbvre, enseignante de cornemuse à Paris, nous a contactés. Agnès nous a expliqué qu’elle avait de sérieuses difficultés à fixer son regard non pas sur la musique de son pupitre mais sur celle de ses étudiants. Après avoir consulté au moins quatre différents optométristes dans l’espoir de trouver des lunettes qui correspondent à ses besoins, Agnès se retrouvait déçue et dépitée. Elle nous a expliqué qu’elle avait besoin de lire à la fois la musique sur son pupitre et sur celui de ses étudiants. Elle avait tout essayé : des verres uni-focaux avec un point focal pour son pupitre, des verres uni-focaux pour le pupitre de ses étudiants, des verres progressifs et professionnels. Rien ne marchait et elle ne savait plus quoi faire. Piper Agnes plays with a number of marching pip bands and turned to Allegro Optical the musicians optician for help to see the music and reducing eyesight De plus en plus désappointée, Agnès s’est dirigée vers Internet dans sa quête d’une solution à ses difficultés visuelles et elle a trouvé Allegro Optical. Quand elle a pris contact avec nous, elle a expliqué ce dont elle avait besoin et a décrit ce qu’elle attendait d’une paire de “lunettes de musique“. Agnès se tient à droite de ses étudiants et a souvent besoin de deux pupitres, un devant l’étudiant et un pour elle. Agnès enseigne à ses étudiants à jouer une variété de cornemuses et de binious soit français soit écossais. Un trait de nombreuses cornemuses françaises est la position du bourdon ténor sur la même souche que le tuyau mélodique au lieu d’être le long du bourdon de basse. Ceci positionne l’étudiant à gauche de l’enseignant et peut occasionner un défi visuel.

Tout est question de tuyaux

Piper Agnes plays with a number of marching pip bands and turned to Allegro Optical the musicians optician for help to see the music and reducing eyesight Heureusement notre Directeur Général Stephen Tighe a un bon nombre d’amis qui jouent de la cornemuse et ainsi d’anciens collègues de fanfare militaire ont reçu quelques coups de téléphone. En général on joue de la cornemuse de mémoire, sans partition, dans un défilé ; il n’y avait donc que le problème des leçons à résoudre. Nous avons donc travaillé avec A gnès sur Skype et l’avons observée pendant ses leçons pour arriver à une solution intéressante. Ce dont Agnès avait besoin était une lentille à puissance dioptrique moindre à l’œil gauche pour lui permettre de voir sa propre partition et celle de ses étudiants. Nous avons donc préparé pour Agnès un verre uni-focal à l’œil droit pour son propre pupitre et un de nos verres Fogotto, pivoté à 90 degrés à l’œil gauche.

Une perspective de musiciens

Agnes loves her new glasses from Allegro OPtical opticians in Greenfield Saddleworth and Holmfirth The musician's optician Ces solutions monoculaires permettent ainsi à Agnès de lire sa partition tout en suivant ce que ses étudiants sont en train de jouer. Nous avons posté les nouvelles lunettes d’Agnès sous une quinzaine et avons attendu sa réaction. Très vite Agnès a pris contact avec ces mots : “Les lunettes sont les meilleures que j’aie jamais eues, merci beaucoup. Je dois toujours bouger un peu, il me semble, mais pas autant qu’avec les lunettes d’avant. Je vois beaucoup mieux la partition de mes étudiants et monbureau, et celles-ci sont vraiment supérieures à mes anciennes lunettes. J’avais un peu peur d’acheter des lunettes en ligne, mais je suis vraiment satisfaite de la qualité de la monture et des verres. Votre service clientèle est sans pareil et je ferai de nouveau appel à vous sans le moindre doute. J’ai déjà recommandé votre entreprise à plusieurs amis.”

Pourquoi les musiciens viennent-ils à Allegro Optical ?

Nous sommes une entreprise familiale qui gagne une réputation internationale d’excellence professionnelle et de créativité face aux besoins de nos clients. Étant désormais connus à l’échelle internationale comme les “Opticiens des Musiciens” nous attirons une clientèle dans toute l’Europe et bien au-delà. Notre travail novateur avec des artistes, des interprètes et des chefs d’orchestre a fait d’Allegro Optical le premier et le seul opticien à être enregistré par l’Association Britannique de Médecine pour les Arts du Spectacle. Nous considérons chaque client individuellement et il est vrai que chaque musicien est unique. Pourquoi donc la correction de leur vision ne le serait-elle pas ? Nous sommes heureux de créer des verres uniques pour répondre aux besoins particuliers de chaque musicien. Étant nous-mêmes musiciens, nous savons poser les bonnes questions et en interpréter les réponses.

Soins oculaires primés

Un soin oculaire primé Le succès d’Allegro Optical dans son aide aux artistes a été tel que nous avons, rien que cette année, décroché cinq accolades nationales et régionales, dont le prix national de la Meilleure Nouvelle Entreprise des Arts et du Spectacle, à un évènement de Londres. En 2019 notre Directrice Générale, Sheryl Doe, a été nommée Opticienne de l’Année. En mars Allegro Optical a été nommée Entreprise en Croissance de l’Année en finale régionale de la Fédération des Petites Entreprises à York et par la suite a reçu le prix en finale nationale du Président de la Fédération des Petites Entreprises en mai. Enfin Allegro Optical a remporté le prix du Yorkshire comme Entreprise Familiale de l’Année. La compagnie a été présentée dans de nombreuses publications nationales telles que The Times, 4BarsRest, The British Bandsman et Music Teacher Magazine. Si vous êtes un musicien ou une musicienne qui a des problèmes de vue et si la musique n’est plus pour vous le plaisir qu’elle était, appelez-nous soit à Greenfield au (+44) 1457 353100 soit à Meltham au (+44) 1484 907090.
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Markus was wearing his troubled face when he was playing his Double Bass

Markus Van Horn is a very busy professional Double Bassist, specialising in Baroque, classical, and contemporary music. Markus plays with ensembles including the, City of London Sinfonia, London Sinfonietta, Orchestra of St John’s, London Mozart Players, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, English National Opera, English National Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Britten Sinfonia, Opera 80, London City Ballet, Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. He has also played in principal roles with Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Opera North.

 

A full-time varifocal wearer, Markus began experiencing problems focusing at music stand distance. He mentioned this to his local optician when he went for his regular eye examination. His opticians prescribed an additional pair of single vision spectacles for music stand distance. A musician not only needs to see the music stand. He also needs to see the conductor clearly and his fellow performers. Markus contacted Allegro Optical Opticians, as the spectacles prescribed failed to provide him with clear vision at all the working distances he needed during his work.

Allegro came to the rescue

The team invited Markus up to Meltham in Holmfirth for a consultation. Then plotted a performers lens designed to take into account all his working distances. We also measured and plotted the area and angle of his visual field at each distance. Once that was complete we adapted the music stand distance to give Markus as wide a field at the stand distance to enable him to see two full pages of sheet music, thus making it easier for him to concentrate on playing rather than seeing. As Markus lives in London we posted his new glasses to him a couple of weeks later, Just before Christmas.

Double Bassist Markus Van Horn buys his Spectacles from Allegro Optical the musicians optician

Markus took a few weeks for his eyes to fully adjust to the new lenses. Learning exactly where each area is and developing his muscle memory. Markus now says  “The new lenses have really helped make the music clearer on the page and are of immense benefit when the lighting is poor. I am very pleased with them

Conclusion

Musicians can present an optometrist or dispensing optician with a great many challenges. Mainly because of their working distances and the varying positions of their visual field. As musicians ourselves, we’re able to ask the musicians the right questions, and to interpret their answers. Using our combined optical and musical skills we are able to address and resolve the many visual problems encountered by older musicians.

As a specialist optician, our team at Allegro Optical are able to produce individual solutions to suit many musician’s needs. This service is not available anywhere else. We approach the problem in a completely different way, looking at it from the musician’s perspective. Our unique design of lenses which will solve their individual unique problems. We have built up a considerable following among musicians and performers as a result.

It’s been less than twelve months since we opened our brand new practice in Meltham and we’re already getting noticed. Not only has the Allegro Optical Opticians 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 been named as a finalist in this year’s Optician Awards, Dispensing Optician of the year award.

At Allegro Optical we are passionate about helping to correct the specific visual problems faced by musicians and performers. Providing a range of tailor-made solutions and services including on-site vision assessments. Using specialist optical technology for those affected by reduced visual clarity. The team have 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 extending their playing careers.

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It’s “All About That Bass”

Helping Ruth see the music

Just think about it, you’ve had perfect vision all your life, then things start to go wrong. Slowly at first and nothing to serious, but over time your vision starts to deteriorate. It happens to most of us, those under 40 will find out in due course. We all adapt by using reading glasses from the opticians or varifocals or bifocals or some of us resort to using off the shelf ready readers, or magnifiers. But most people find a solution of sorts.

 

However, it isn’t that easy if you are a musician who relies on their sight to read and play music for a living. String Bassist Ruth Ker was experiencing these symptoms of presbyopia and it was really beginning to get in the way of her playing. Ruth was becoming very frustrated at not being able to see. A Cellist colleague Fiona Mayo recommended that she contact us at Allegro Optical Opticians.  Allegro Optical Opticians are specialist musicians’ opticians based in Meltham, near Holmfirth, Huddersfield and Saddleworth, arguably one of the most musical parts of the country. Ruth and Fiona play together quite often and Fiona had recently got some musicians glasses from us and was delighted with them. Ruth said she had  “gone from having brilliant eyesight to completely rubbish”! Ruth explained to us that she plays the double bass and would be interested to get some glasses from us.

Focusing on the music stand and the conductor

So we arranged a consultation with Ruth, does have very good vision with no refractive error for the distance at all. She did, however, struggle to see the music on the music stand. Music for large bass instruments does tend to be fairly large and that had been her saving grace up to now. All bass players tend to have their music stand a good 120cm in front of them so the print needs to be quite large. Ruth was managing by moving the stand away, but there is a limit to how far away you can move it without it interfering with playing.

Ruth plays with both orchestral groups and Jazz so her working distances are quite varied and this gave us some challenges when designing her lenses. We dispensed Ruth with a pair of adapted multifocal lenses, as even freeform digital varifocals would not have met her positional requirements. Ruth didn’t take to her new lenses straight away, and she is the first to admit that “They took some getting used to”.  We’ve had quite a few tweaks and frame adjustments to get them how Ruth liked them and there has been a prolonged period of retraining Ruth’s eyes. Now she has adjusted to wearing glasses Ruth is using them every day and finds they are really helping.

A musician’s opinion

When asked about her glasses Ruth said “I hate having to wear glasses, however, my new glasses are vastly better than anything my usual optician had been able to make for me. Sheryl has been incredibly patient and persistent.” There are a great many Musicians who experience focusing problems. They struggle with all the different distances required of their profession and are unaware that there is a solution to the problem. Many optometrists or opticians either prescribe and dispense single vision lenses for the music stand, leaving everything else blurred. Or they suggest varifocals which often exacerbate the problems due to the narrow corridor, or they recommend office lenses which give a reduced working distance.

Understanding a musician’s visual needs

At Allegro Optical Opticians we understand the many visual requirements placed on different musicians. As a result we prescribe a variety of our own lenses designed specifically to suit their needs. We either adapt existing lens designs or we will create a lens design especially for the client to create a perfect optical solution. We understand the variety of dispensing challenges that practitioners may face when a musician presents in practice, but as musicians ourselves we are able to meet their individual needs perfectly.

If you are a musician who has problems seeing the music give us a call at Allegro Optical Opticians on 01484 907090 for advice or to book a consultation.