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Now Edwina’s vision is Abso-Flute-Ly Amazing

Finding a Flute-ful solution

Edwina Smith has been playing the flute for most of her life, her ability as a musician is beyond question. However, over the last few years, Edwina has had a few problems when playing. With her vision beginning to deteriorate Edwina, who plays for Yorkshire Baroque Soloists had tried various solutions suggested by her regular optometrist, but none were completely satisfactory. Edwina, an established varifocal wearer found playing a flute in a semi-professional or professional situation in varifocals far from ideal. Due mainly to the very narrow field of view offered by varifocals at music stand distance. Edwina followed her optician’s suggestion of a using a single vision mid-distance pair of spectacle lenses. These gave her a clear view of the music but blurred the conductor.

Edwina Smith Flutist gets her spectacles from Allegro Optical the musicians optician

Having discussed her concerns with friends and family Edwina came to Allegro Optical on a friends recommendation. Edwina explained her problems to our experienced team of Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians.  They worked together to create a completely bespoke lens design. This improved Edwin’s vision at all her working distances when she plays. Both in rehearsals and when performing.

 

Now Edwina can see the music

When asked about her new spectacles Edwina said “On 7th November I did a series of concerts and workshops on period instruments in Birkenhead School. Playing a Vivaldi flute concerto and the last movement of Bach Brandenburg 5 to various different age groups, plus conducting a baroque woodwind session. It was a very long day but it all went fine. I felt comfortable looking up from my music when playing in the ensemble. Conducting was easier when I could see both the music and the players equally comfortably. When I did a baroque flute demonstration as part of a study session for the A level and GCSE students (in a large chapel), I was able to see the students in the audience easily without having to take my glasses off!

Last Saturday I played for a choral concert in Newcastle (JS and CPE Bach Magnificats), again on baroque flute. I’ve got so used to wearing the new glasses now that I didn’t worry too much about it.  I just tried to remain focused (in every way!) and didn’t misread anything. My vision of the conductor was better than for many years. It’s only now that I realise how fuzzy conductors have been for a long time! I thought that I might have trouble refocusing when looking down at the music again after looking at the conductor. But actually, I think that aspect is easier than it was when I was using single vision middle distance lenses.

In the past, I think when I looked at the conductor my eyes would try and focus even though it was fuzzy, so when I looked down at the music again they would have to readjust.  It’s a lot better than I ever thought it would be, I’m very happy.”

Why are musicians so special?

Musicians have a variety of different working distances and this can pose real problems to the more mature player. Many presenters and musicians also suffer from postural problems as a result of trying to compensate or adapt to deteriorating vision.

As musicians ourselves, at Allegro Optical we have a working understanding of the playing and seating positions of musicians. This allows us to resolve their vision problems in a different way.  A musician’s working and playing life can easily be extended by the visual improvements that this solution provides.

A great many musicians who experience focusing problems at different distances are completely unaware that there is a solution to these problems. Many optometrists and opticians do not fully understand the issues and either prescribe and dispense single vision lenses for the music stand, or varifocals which often exacerbate the problems due to the narrow corridor. At Allegro Optical we approach the problems from the musicians’ viewpoint and we have developed a range of lenses and dispensing techniques that give a wider and more comfortable field of view and greater depth of field.

We’re always happy to offer advice

If you are a musician who is experiencing visual or focusing issues when playing give us a call to book an appointment or for an informal chat. Call Allegro Optical in Meltham, near Huddersfield on  01484 907090.

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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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Angelo gets his eye back

Geneva Instruments’ Angelo Bearpark get’s his eyes back

Just imagine having a passion in life and it is under threat, all because your eyesight is failing. You’ve spent your whole life pursuing something you love, honing your skill until you’re at the top of your game. Then disaster strikes, you begin to have problems seeing to read.  Looking at your phone becomes difficult and out of focus. When you are a musician things get even more problematic as the music on the stand starts to blur.

Focusing on the problem

This is exactly what happened to world-famous brass band soloist Angelo Bearpark. Angelo who is a Geneva Instruments Performing Artist, Development & Promotional Consultant began to struggle with his vision at 30 cm for a mobile phone reading, and about 40 cm when reading menus and for eating etc. He tried varifocals but they were far from ideal. Out of desperation, Angelo turned to refractive laser surgery in 2005. To make the multiple working distances easier, Angelo opted for monovision LASIK surgery to reduce the need for reading glasses. Using this technique, the surgeon fully corrects the distance vision of one eye (usually the dominant eye), and intentionally leaves the nondominant eye mildly short sighted. Angelo Bearpark Geneva Instuments artist gets his glasses at Allegro Optical

A temporary fix

This solution worked well at first but over the course of time, Angelo began to struggle again, this time with his mid-range. In fact exactly where his music stand is. A disaster for a musician, but especially so for a player of Angelo’s calibre. In addition to teaching in his music school Angelo, works as a music consultant with a variety of ensembles. Like many mature musicians, he became increasingly frustrated with his focusing problems when playing and teaching.

Whit Friday in Saddleworth

Angelo, who lives in Chermignon in Switzerland travelled to the UK to compete in the famous Whit Friday band contests with his local band. Angelo Bearpark needed help with sight reading

Designing an individual solution for a very individual musician

As a post Lasik patient, Angelo suffers from glare caused by scarring from the refractive surgery. For this reason, we felt a photochromic lens with a multi-layer broadband anti-reflective coating was the ideal solution. Especially as sunlight in Switzerland is very bright all year round. Angelo Bearpark of Geneva Instruments gets his glasses at Allegro Optical, the musician's optician in Huddersfield Because Angelo now has monovision, we also had the difference in image sizes to overcome. Being more long-sighted in one eye, all spectacle corrections will make the image he sees in that eye larger as well as sharper. This potentially could have been a problem as it may have induced double vision. We addressed this problem by making the two lenses in different index materials but produced them with the same photochromic layer and multilayer broadband anti-reflective coating to match the lens surface appearances. This created a cosmetically pleasing pair of lenses and controlled the double vision.

The wider the better

The next issue to address was the field of view. Angelo needed a much wider field of view than that provided by any progressive addition lenses (Varifocals). He needed to be able to see three sheets of music on the stand clearly at the same time. Even if sat to one side when teaching. An occupational lens didn’t provide enough depth or width of visual field, so our only option was to design a completely bespoke pair of lenses, suited to Angelos very specific needs, from lyre to the conductor.

A one off Angelo Bearpark in Allegro Optical Meltham

Having spent a great deal of time measuring lens position, the direction of gaze and head position, we were able to produce completely individual lenses. The resulting lenses provide the power for the specific distances exactly where he needs it while maintaining a wide, clear field of view. We glazed the lenses into a titanium supra frame to provide a tough and durable lightweight mount, with the added benefit of being almost invisible when on stage. The lenses also have a coating which is anti-static, scratch resistant, hydro and oleophobic, for an excellent cosmetic and long-lasting finish. When Angelo collected his glasses he was delighted commenting that he felt he had got his eyes back. Anglo said, “I am so pleased with my new glasses. They allow me to see music over three sheets on the stand perfectly well and I can look up and see the conductor. I am able to drive in them and I can see to read. They are so much better than my old varifocals and my old degressive lenses. I can now concentrate on my playing rather than trying to concentrate on seeing.” Conclusion Musicians can present the dispensing optician with many challenges both regarding working distances and head position. But with the right approach and asking pertinent questions, these issues can all be resolved. Allegro Optical specialises in correcting musicians and we produce individual solutions to suit their needs, which are not available elsewhere. Allegro Optical approach the musician’s vision problems from their perspective and have built up a considerable following as a result. We are passionate about the specific visual needs of musicians and presenters. By providing a range of tailor-made services including advice on eye health, optical correction on-site vision assessments, and specialist technology for those affected by reduced visual clarity. Our clients are wide-ranging, from professional classical musicians to members of well-known brass bands. We also help music teachers and performers, TV presenters as well as keen amateur musicians of all genres and those who have taken up a new instrument later in life.
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Clearly Harping on

Meltham’s Musician’s Optician

It wasn’t long after we had opened our practice in Meltham, near Huddersfield and Holmfirth, that Rhian Evans walked through our door. A friend had told her about our new optician practice and that we specialised in helping musicians. Professional Harpist Rhian explained that she had been experiencing focusing problems when performing. It is the close proximity of the strings of her harp and the more distant position of the music stand that was causing her problems Rhian Evans Harpist Musicians glasses Allegro Optical Rhian needed to see the high-pitched strings immediately to her right at a distance of just 23 cm. Her music stand, however, is 95cm to her left, and the conductor usually 5 meters away directly in front of her.

A creative solution

Rhian had been struggling with 2 pairs of single vision glasses for distance and near. We dispensed a pair of adapted progressive lenses with a compensated orientation to take into account Rhian’s working distances and head position. The lenses were mounted into a rimless frame to be less conspicuous on stage. We used a high index lens for durability, with an anti-reflective coating to improve vision, reduce glare and improve the cosmetic appearance of the lenses. Rhian collected her spectacles two weeks later. As with all progressive lenses, there was a period of adaptation, but as with all things, practice makes perfect.

An excellent performance from the musician’s lenses

Rhian Evans professional harpist musicians lenses Allegro optical the musicians optician Rhian said “From the moment I walked into Allegro Optical I knew I would be dealt with efficiently and professionally. The shop itself is well equipped whilst retaining a reassuring intimacy, and all the staff are welcoming and friendly. Sheryl was very thorough and asked all the right questions regarding my specific vision issues. When I received my new glasses, the first thing I noticed was the weight of the frames,  they’re as light as a feather! I was less concerned with the cosmetic appearance of my glasses but I acknowledge that they are very discreet. Rhian Harpist After initially experiencing some difficulty focusing on my printed sheet music, both at home and in my performance work, I returned to Sheryl. After some discussion, she decided on a solution to my problems. I have now tested my new glasses in both rehearsal and concert situations and I am delighted with the results. No more stooping down to focus on the dots and then lifting my head to see the conductor. After 2 years of wearing badly fitting frames in order to compensate for my specific issues, I can feel my confidence returning. I would highly recommend a visit to Allegro Optical to any musician seeking a solution to their vision problems. Sheryl and her team will do everything they can to help.”  
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New glasses hit the right note

We can see a bright future for this young cornet player

On this very wet September day, summer is now nothing but a memory. The kids are now all back at school and Autumn is with us, with the leaves turning to those beautiful reds and oranges.

The beginning of the Autumn term is always a busy time for opticians. It is now that we see a steady stream of our younger clients in need of new specs for the new school year. 

 

Children’s eye tests

Many parents have their children’s vision tested in the couple of weeks prior to the return to school. Just to be sure that they have clear vision for the academic year ahead and that nothing untoward with their eyes has developed. Children’s eye tests are free on the NHS and if the need glasses those can be obtained free of charge too with the NHS optical voucher scheme.

We had a visit last week from one very musical family who had 2 young boys in need of spectacles. One of the young gentlemen is very fond of playing his cornet and loves making music. He’s not at all shy of giving us an impromptu performance.

Infants glasses

While the family have come to us for some time, the youngest member came to collect his first pair of glasses.

As there was a strong family history of ametropia the youngest member of the family, who is just 11 months old, was tested at the hospital eye clinic and unsurprisingly he was prescribed corrective lenses.
Free childrens glasses and eye tests at Allegro Optical Meltham

The new glasses he collected will allow his vision to develop normally and as a result, he is unlikely to have any long-term effects.

Children’s eyesight develops from birth to around the age of five years. Good vision and eye health play a critical role in an infant’s development and children like everything else need to learn to see.

Poor eye health and vision problems can cause developmental delays in children so it is important to detect any problems early.  

At Allegro Optical in Meltham, our team of qualified optometrists and dispensing opticians are on hand to help with all your child’s visual needs. Children’s eye tests are free on the NHS as are their spectacles if needed. To book your child’s eye test give us a call on 01484 907090

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Music to our ears and eyes

Xanthe has fun with our new piano

If you haven’t heard Allegro Optical has a new piece of kit in our test room and I’m rather excited to have a go with it. If you, in fact, haven’t heard (you must be living under a rock if you haven’t) we’ve got a piano! Yes, you read that right, we have a piano and I for one am VERY! excited. Now before you get all excited thinking I can play you’d be sadly mistaken. As I have said in previous blogs when it comes to instrument my biggest achievement is playing Frere Jacques on the recorder but will that stop me having a go? Um no! in fact, I think my goal will be to make the most noise as possible…not that said noise will have any sort of rhythm or tune but hey you can’t win them all. So I for one will be thoroughly enjoying our new bit of kit. (may have to buy my mum some ear plugs though…)

Why a Piano??

So why do we have a piano in an opticians test room, that’s rather an extravagant bit of décor. But be assured this is a rather important bit of kit, most instrument players can transport their instrument with them and will be able to use it to show our team what they need from their glasses to help them see the music. But unfortunately, pianos they aren’t so easy to transport (who knew?!) So we had the great idea to cater for our pianists by having a piano in our test room (aren’t we a resourceful bunch) I would like to point out though that quite frankly if my mum could fit a whole musical band of instruments into our test room she would and she would be the women to make it all fit.  So if you’re a pianist then please pop into, Allegro Optical, at 1-3 Station Street, Meltham. It’s not far from Holmfirth or Huddersfield, and come show the team what you’ve got. Read more about how my Mum can help musicians at https://www.befund.org/blog/client-stories/a-vision-of-business-success-for-musical-duo
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Seeing the dots

Whit Friday Marches

The fabulous spectacle that is the Whit Friday Brass Band competition, looms large on the 9th June and we have had quite a few new customers for our musicians’ glasses. These are to help musicians cope with the different distances required during playing and marching.

As we get older, our eyes are less flexible in the way they work and Allegro understand the issues involved and have developed solutions for each of our customers. If you are having this problem, you need to get in touch as we are running out of time.

 

One of our clients who, solo horn player at Emley Brass Band said,

“The marching glasses worked a treat. Seeing the ground and around me was fine. Seeing the music was also fine. Durham Miner’s gala next. Thanks so much for your help with this; it’s really made a difference to the experience.”

The ageing eye and playing

Ageing eyes can present problems for musicians which we can help solve. As musicians ourselves we understand the many vision problems musicians’ experience. We know that many mature musicians’ struggle to see both their sheet music and the conductor while playing their instrument. We also know that many opticians don’t really understand how to correct the musician’s vision clearly at the many visual distances required by the professional or keen amateur musicians. If you are a professional, it could even potentially shorten your career? So if you need help to see the music visit www.allegrooptical.oc.uk

Whit Friday Brass Band competition 9th June 2017

As a matter of interest, the team at Allegro will be acting as hosts to a Championship class Swiss Brass band over the whole weekend. As part of the Champion Brass team, we will be acting as guides on the night and hosting trips and events for the band.

We’ll see you there.

Remember, if you need help to see the music, call Meltham, near Huddersfield on 01484 90 70 90 now. Allegro Optical, helping you see the music.

 

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Cello good.

 

Fiona Mayo BA(Hons) Dip Mus, LRSM, LTCL, is a Cellist and Cello teacher. Like many mature musicians, she was struggling with the effects of presbyopia. Sight reading was a problem as was focusing on the music on the stand. She was also having problems seeing the music when teaching, as she uses a shared music stand.

A problem with sight reading

A long term varifocal wearer Fiona was experiencing difficulty with the narrow corridor and peripheral distortion provided by the spectacles her optician provided. Fiona needed to be able to see the conductor from as near as a few feet (when leading a cello section), to as far as the furthest distance on a concert stage(when providing playing support from the last desk of cellists in a big symphony orchestra).

She was finding particular difficulty when teaching, as music teachers often position the music stand in front of their pupils and then read the piece being played from the side. Although Fiona’s current lenses were a free form design this had become problematic, due to the narrower field of view provided by the lens corridor.

Seeing the music

We dispensed a pair of spectacles adapted to take into account Fiona’s  various working distances and seating positions. Having collected and used the new spectacles Fiona said: “I have been wearing my new spectacles since I got them”.  “I have worn them for:

  • Cutting tiny wedges to fit mortices in the re-hairing of cello bows
  • Teaching, from a single music stand, as well as sideways on from a stand placed in front of the pupil.
  • Reading piano music to accompany pupils.
  • Attending a String Quartet concert at Leeds College of Music and being able to see clearly.

The biggest surprise is that I no longer have to take the specs off for close work. It’s all looking fantastic. Thanks again for helping me and  the service has been exceptional.”

Harrogate philharmonic orchestra

Summary

Focusing at many different distances can pose real problems to musicians. Many struggle with the varying focal distances they work with. In fact, many musicians also suffer from postural problems as a result. With an understanding of the playing and seating positions of professional musicians, this problem can be overcome. The musicians working and playing life can easily be extended, due to the improvement that this solution provides. Many Musicians who experience focusing problems at different distances are unaware that there is a solution to the problem. Many optometrists and opticians either prescribe and dispense single vision lenses for the music stand or varifocals, which often exacerbate the problems due to the narrow corridor.

Conclusion

This case study has illustrated the variety of dispensing challenges that practitioners may face when a musician presents in practice and the individual.