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Glasses for pianists


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#1 Aquarelle

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Posted 25 October 2019 - 15:17

I have started a new thread as I don't want to hijack Funkie Piano's thread.

 

Here in France I have been totally unable to convince either my ophthalmologist or my optician that my progressive lenses are pretty useless for the piano. I can't seem to get them to understand that I have difficulty in reading the music and that the combination of looking at the music and glancing down at the keyboard seems to just create fuzz. For all other activities my glasses work well. I have been met with blank stares when I have asked about glasses for musicians. Can anyone suggest

(in simple terms) what might work and what I should ask the optician to try to get?  I tried explaining the distance between my eyes and the music and my eyes and the keyboard but  no one seems able to say anything other than "You just need progressive lenses."


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#2 andante_in_c

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Posted 25 October 2019 - 16:14

Have you tried using the term 'computer glasses/specs'? When my optician asked me to measure the distance between eyes and music stand and I returned with a measurement of 60cm, he said immediately, 'Oh, you need computer specs'. They are slightly varied so I can use them for reading books too, but are absolutely fine for both piano and music stand reading.


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#3 jenny

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Posted 25 October 2019 - 16:24

I was very pleased when my optician was both interested and helpful when I told him about the difficulties of reading music at the piano. (I use varyifocals and, as Aquarelle finds, they make reading and playing very difficult.) My optician told me that when he was training, they used to discuss the problems of music reading and he seemed very pleased to help me. I ended up with a pair just for playing and they're great, but I can't wear them 'around the house' so I have to remember to swap over when I finish playing. 


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#4 chris13

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Posted 25 October 2019 - 17:06

I had a pair of specs specially for piano earlier this year. I can't remember what distance I specified between the front of my eye and the music but it must have been something like 60cm as andante in c suggests. The optician suggested a prescription that gave some depth of vision at round about 60cm. Since having them my reading ability has improved, also ability to play and enjoyment. I think they are plain lenses without having any variofocal aspect.


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#5 chris13

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Posted 25 October 2019 - 20:10

Post script. I chose a pair of frames which were relatively deep from the top of the lens to the bottom so that when I glance downwards to the keyboard  I still have line of sight through the lens.


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#6 fsharpminor

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Posted 25 October 2019 - 20:16

As mentioned on another thread, I have reading glasses with a focal length of about 14 in , and an extra pair for music at about 18 in. Can use either for laptop as thats at about 16 in.


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#7 Tenor Viol

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Posted 25 October 2019 - 20:27

After I had replacement eye lens surgery a few years ago (which corrected my distance vision) I no longer needed full-on varifocals. What my optician suggested to handle standard and intermediate reading requirements for both working with computers and playing cello and sax were "occupational lenses". These have an intermediate reading section and a standard reading section, but have greater depth of field, which means more stuff is in focus at the same time. This means I can see the conductor easily for example in orchestra as well as reading the music.

 

I'm on my second pair now and they work well. Lenses are expensive, but cheaper than varifocals at about £200 rather than £400.


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#8 Boogaloo

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Posted 26 October 2019 - 00:01

Try any of the above names, but also "mid distance" lenses are what they are sometimes called. I've got these for music playing, readers for, well, reading! and my bi-focals for normal stuff as vari-focals make me feel sick owing to the fact that I get motion sickness and that is a possible side effect of them! My pupils all say I should have gone to Specsavers as I have so many pairs, but actually, I did go there!


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#9 Gran'piano

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Posted 26 October 2019 - 19:57

Thanks Aquarelle for putting this into a separate thread. When I mentioned this problem in the 'Older Beginner' thread, I had not realised how many other folk would add their experiences to mine.

When I started to use the computer a great deal, I discussed my problem with my optician. I had bad astigmatism, wore varifocals to correct this and overcome my presbiopia (I was over fifty) and in addition had glaucoma and cataracts in both eyes. As my glasses needing correcting each year which was very expensive, he suggested that instead of buying a second pair of glasses with the expensive astigmatism correction and a focal length of 60cms,  I could have a clip made which would fit onto my varifocals, and give me the right focal length over the whole lens. After I started to play the piano, I used the same clip for that too. Worked very well indeed.

 

In my two cataract operations a couple of years back,  special implanted lenses gave me monovision.  I see distance clearly with my right eye and read with my left. I no longer need glasses in the normal run of things. However, for the piano/computer I have glasses which make the left 'reading eye' slightly more long-sighted and the right 'distance eye' more short-sighted. I see really well with them. Unfortunately, I still cannot play the piano... but we cannot have everything.

 

Edited 25.11.2019

This post from another thread gives a link to the RNIB, which gives information on Scores in Larger Print.


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#10 Banjogirl

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Posted 27 October 2019 - 07:10

I have expensive top quality varifocals which work for everything. They're amazing. It's like getting the perfect eyesight I never had. My problem these days when playing the piano is not that anything is out of focus but when looking from keyboard to music my brain just seems to take a fraction of a second too long to work out what I'm doing!
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#11 Gran'piano

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Posted 27 October 2019 - 07:32

Ach. So. Eyes in focus. Brain out of focus. Been there. Done that.
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#12 Gran'piano

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Posted 27 October 2019 - 13:51

I have expensive top quality varifocals which work for everything. They're amazing. It's like getting the perfect eyesight I never had.

I do wonder though, if it is not just the quality of the varifocals which affects the outcome but in addition the difference in the amount of correction required between the distance area, the piano area and the reading area of the lens. Also, maybe how much accomodation the lens in the eye can still achieve by itself. 

 

As I said in the other thread, varifocals may cause more problems for a beginner with the large span between the staves, as opposed to the situation of a more advanced player who has the staves smaller and closer together.

How much does not seeing perfectly affect a beginner who is lacking the ability to 'comprehend' what he or she sees? A bit like reading handwriting as opposed to printing, or reading a text printed in German Gothik or using anything other than our standard alphabet. The better one knows the language, the quicker the brain 'guesses' words correctly which the eyes cannot really read. A piano-beginner reads notes; pianists recognise patterns of notes, intervals and the like. 

 

I think these points, and the need for very good lighting, are things which need consideration in an adult pupil, particularly a beginner. It might save a lot of time and  frustration.


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#13 Aquarelle

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Posted 27 October 2019 - 14:29

I have expensive top quality varifocals which work for everything. They're amazing. It's like getting the perfect eyesight I never had. My problem these days when playing the piano is not that anything is out of focus but when looking from keyboard to music my brain just seems to take a fraction of a second too long to work out what I'm doing!

I had  progressive lenses  almost from the time they were invented and for distance, reading and even for the piano they were no problem. But over the years my eyesight has changed and although my present prescription works for almost everything it is useless for the piano. When I explained the problem to my optician she said that the newest (and most expensive) progressive lenses would solve the problem. but they haven't.. So I am asking  Banjogirl if she has any specific make of lenses. Interestingly I don't have any problem when using my computer. I can read  the screen and type and when I look from one to the other I don't have the blurring problem that I get when playing the piano. Can anyone suggest why?


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#14 Gran'piano

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Posted 27 October 2019 - 14:35

Do you have bad astigmatism?
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#15 fionamck

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Posted 27 October 2019 - 18:37

So glad I’m not the only one with this problem! My optician suggested varifocals and when I asked how they’d work for playing the piano I was told I’d need to ‘point my nose’ at whatever I wanted to see. When I explained that pianists don’t physically look down from the sheet music to the keyboard but merely move their eyes in a quick downward glance she told me I needed to change the way I played the piano!! ???? The best she could offer me were a pair of second glasses with a longer focal length than my reading specs. These work well for playing, however when teaching, the focal length from sitting to the side of the pupil to the music desk is longer again so still a problem. I need 3 pairs of glasses to switch between: 1 for writing in notebooks, 1 for demonstrating a technique and 1 for looking at a pupil’s music when they’re playing!!
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