Orchestral playing for people with bifocals

September 11, 2009 at 04:15 AM ·

I am curious to hear from other orchestral violinists who wear bifocals in their nonmusical lives, what sort of lenses you use for your orchestral work - and how happy are you with those lenses.  Do you wear progressive lenses, and if so, is there a particular type of progressive lense that works for you?  I have heard that there are different types of progressive lenses - that have differently- shaped fields of correction, and I'm wondering if some of these might work better for violinists sharing a stand.  Or do you wear a single-vision lense set for one particular distance?  The no-line progressive lenses I wore originally, worked for me, but in recent years, with further correction, they don't work anymore.  I think it is harder for us violinists than for wind players, who do not have to share a stand.  The combination of our visual and posture requirements make this a nontrivial problem! 

Replies (49)

September 11, 2009 at 05:40 AM ·

I don't wear bifocals (but I probably should!).  I am quite near-sighted, so I wear contact lenses to correct for distance.  For the closer-up work, I wear over-the-counter readers.  For orchestra/computer work, I have one set.  For reading and very close-up work, I have another set.  The conductor is a bit blurred, but hey, better her than the music!

September 11, 2009 at 01:01 PM ·

I also wear bi-focals.  However, for playing violin, I have a set of single-vision lens  glasses which I refer to as my "violin glasses."  I told my opthalmologist at what distance I need everything to be clear, and he gave me a prescription.  The glasses themselves weren't that expensive, and they make it much easier than bi-focals of progressives.

September 11, 2009 at 01:39 PM ·

I think you are referring to reading music.  I have a different problem, in that I am still at the learning stage where I have to watch where my fingers are on the fingerboard.  My reading glasses don't focus well at that distance.  I am due for a checkup and probably new glasses, so I would appreciate any insight anyone can provide.

September 11, 2009 at 01:53 PM ·

I had a terrible time w/progressive lenses for music reading. The field of vision for that distance was just too small, and I had to move my head around to see - not helpful for violin-playing . My eye doctor gave me a single-lens prescription that was supposed to enable me to read the music and still be able to see the conductor. The first prescription he gave me was not possible to make in high-index lenses and would have been too heavy, so I had to go back and try again. This time we got it right. My only problem now - the distance vision is actually pretty good with them, and sometimes I discover as I'm driving home from rehearsal that everything's a bit blurry - because I forgot to take them off.

September 11, 2009 at 02:05 PM ·

My friend sat at the piano and had her husband take measurements of the height of the center of the page from the floor& the distance from her face to the page. If my eyesight for music-reading gets much worse, I'm taking the fiddle, the music & a stand to the eye doctor w/me. I test at 20-20 both eyes for my driving license, btw, but have reading glasses which don' t necessarily help w/reading music especially when sharing a stand. Sue


September 11, 2009 at 02:13 PM ·

A good friend of mine was the concertmaster of a major symphony, and as time went on he reached the age where one can be both nearsighted and farsighted at the same time! His solution was to have his optometrist make a pair of "upside-down" bifocals. The lenses were sized to allow him the best possible field of vision when both looking up at the conductor and down at the music.

I use progressive lenses for everyday activities, but for work I have a special-purpose pair that optimizes my vision in my normal working range. It cost me several hundred dollars, but the absence of eyestrain and headaches at the end of the day made it money well-spent. I remind myself that time is not always kind. In school, the kids used to call me "four-eyes." Well, now it's six! :-)

September 12, 2009 at 05:11 PM ·

I have progressive lenses which I asked that the bottom part of the lens be "progressed" earlier, leaving me with a larger reading area on the lens to view the music. But quite frankly, it still presents occasional problems--especially if it is an unusually oversized sheet. I also had a pair of single lens music glasses made for my reading vision with the focal point at about 28" away. This works better for me. I can't see a conductor as clearly as with the progressive lenses, but... ;-)

September 12, 2009 at 07:37 PM ·

From friends in the Chicago Symphony who use him, I got a recommendation to an eye doctor here in Chicago. They would take their instruments, stands, and music to his office, set up, and he builds them an appropriate set of glasses. I did the same: after figuring out what distance I preferred doing most of my critical violin making jobs, I went to him with a distance, and he built me a set of "reading" glasses for 11".  It's really great, and now I have multiple pairs spotted around my shop and house. I also had him make me a pair for computer use. When you consider the comfort you get, it's not that expensive.

September 13, 2009 at 12:25 PM ·

With advancing years I had to move to varifocals some years back. They are totally impossible to use in an orchestra! Luckily, the music is just about the right distance for me to read without glasses, so I just take them off to play. If that didn't work, I'd get single-vision glasses made specifically for that distance.


September 20, 2009 at 04:32 AM ·

Thank you all for sharing your experiences with me.  When I went back to my eye doctor the other day to try to solve the problem (he'd given me some progressives that were in the mid range on top and close range on the bottom, and they weren't working), as soon as I put the music at the angle I normally have it at (when sharing the stand), both he and the optician said "That's not going to work!"  I had to laugh, since it hadn't worked, which was why I was back in there!  We're going to try a single vision lense with a tiny half moon at the bottom that will enable me to see closer - for marking bowings, etc.  We don't know if it'll work, but I thought it would be worth trying.  If that doesn't work, it will be back to single-vision mid-range ones for me (which is what I've used for the past ~12 years, but the prescription was no longer working for me). 

September 20, 2009 at 06:29 AM ·

For performance, I used contact lenses prescribed for long distance and use weak reading glass (+1.50) to read music. I look above the reading glasses to glance at my quartet members or conductor, and look down through the reading glasses to read music  It's important to have a stand that adjusts to the right height and angle to optimize the effectiveness of the reading glasses.

Progressive lenses, bi-focal contacts, contacts with different L and R prescriptions,  either gave me headaches or insufficient sharpness.  

For practicing at home, I have single focal length pair of glasses. But when I tried to perform with those glasses, glancing from form to semi-blurry people, I got terrible headaches.

It's such a drag. Wish I had my 21 one year old eyes back.

Good luck!


September 20, 2009 at 10:38 AM ·

It sounds so complicated to have a different pair of glasses for every activity.  Why not improve your eyesight?  Here is my story and some information for anyone wishing to learn:

I have been following the Bates method of eyesight improvement for 2 years now and have improved my eyesight considerably.  The method is for anyone, myopic, presbyopic, hypermetropic, astigmatic, cross eyes.  The doctor who discovered it relieved himself of having to always search for multiple pairs of glasses as many of you described above. 

Within 1 year of teaching myself, my optometrist reduced my prescription by 0.5 diopter, and practically, it's changed my life:  before:   I wore -8 glasses from the time I woke up to turning off the light, and I couldn't recognize the difference between a tree and a person from 5 feet without glasses.  Now, without glasses I can bike and read the license plates on cars from 10-30 feet.  I rarely, if ever, wear my glasses.  I keep a blog of my continued progress:  sorrisi.wordpress.com where I happily answer questions from newcomers (my screen name for the blog is sorrisi).  At the moment, the writing on the blog is at a more advanced level because I have nearly fully recovered my eyesight, but please don't let that discourage you from asking questions or help getting started.  Many free lessons can be found at cleareyesight.info .  I teach people for free from my blog.  The method is so simple (things like breathing properly, blinking regularly, noticing details and oppositional movement), it is commitment to practice the method that most people have difficulty with.  Beware, anyone claiming to improve eyesight with eye exercizes (especially quickly and for lots of money)  is a fake.  Follow the links from my blog to get a sense of what legitimate Bates method websites look like.  Internet searches for eyesight improvement generally turn up a lot of expensive garbage.  The method, and what I write, is NOT medical advice.  It is a method of teaching to see as the normal eye sees.

How can one learn the method and how long will it take?  I recommend finding a teacher, simply because they will incorporate lessons from the traditional Bates method as well as modern relaxation techniques.  Progress is much faster when you have someone to turn to for motivation, questions, and support.  There are many parallels between relearning to see and learning to play the violin.  Many people ask the exact questions on the violinist.com forum as they do on eyesight improvement forums:  do I need a teacher? how long does it take to learn?  am I too old?  The answers are also the same:  Yes, if you want to learn as quickly as possible and don't want to acquire bad habits.  Time required to learn depends on you, your creative ability, and your commitment to daily practice.  No one is too old to gain benefit.

Another common question is why haven't I heard of the method? First of all because in the short term, it requires more patience and time than simply buying glasses.  Many people are not willing or feel unable to stick it out.  Although in the longer term, being able to use your own eyes to see at any distance saves considerable patience and time.  The method is also not exactly a lucrative career choice and is mainly taught by people similar to myself that are simply passionate about it and do it quietly for free.  This passion for teaching the method is pitted against optometry, a multi-billion dollar industry.  You probably also haven't heard that contact lenses have the more reported side effects and complications than any other medical devicee?

How was the method discovered?  Dr. Bates observed that even people with perfect sight do not have perfect sight all of the time, nor for all objects.  Observe someone with perfect sight (when they aren't aware, of course, that you're watching their habits).  Show them some symbols they have never seen before or watch them open a web page that they've never seen before, they will become temporarily myopic, move their head closer to look, and after a bit they accustom themselves to it they will lean back again and look with perfect sight.  To a lesser degree, people with imperfect sight notice this - have you noticed that at certain times of day you see better or worse?  He observed that glasses do not improve sight, and often after wearing glasses, what could once be read without glasses, now required ever increasing prescriptions to see.  Have you ever, or do you notice people with glasses occasionally removing them to rub and rest their eyes from them?  He discovered the cause of imperfect sight is strain.  He relieved it (and I have done the same for myself) in thousands of people by teaching them to rest properly.  This includes techniques that can be done anywhere, anytime, which use the aid of the memory and imagination to rest the mind and eyes.

If your do wish to learn, then go to my blog, sorrisi.wordpress.com, and there you will find advice for getting started, as well as many useful links to other websites.

best wishes,

September 20, 2009 at 05:12 PM ·

I use a type of "executive" bifocals I use only for music.  They have a straight line across the lens (as opposed to the small circlet at the bottom).  The top is only about 20% of the lens and is prescriptioned for distance--for seeing the conductor over the music stand.  The bottom 80% are prescriptioned for the distance of a music stand.

September 20, 2009 at 10:04 PM ·


I know exactly what you mean.  As my bifocal, progressive prescription changed over the years the difference between the near and far got bigger and bigger, and as it did, the area of the lens that was functional got smaller and smaller.  I think this is an inevitable artifact of how progressive lenses work.  I also had a lot of astigmatism that made the problem worse.

My solution was Lasik with monovision.  Now I have one eye corrected for near vision and the other corrected for far.  It took me about a week to adjust, but after that I totally forgot about the monovision and now at 58 I see better now than I have for many years, all without glasses.  I really like being able to clearly see in all directions without having to move my head and point my nose at everything I need to see clearly.

You can test it out with contact lenses if you want to see how you like it before you commit to surgery.

September 21, 2009 at 12:30 AM ·

I'm having vision problems as well.  I can no longer wear my contacts - my eyes are too dry.  I can't see the music on my stand clearly with my progressives so if I make a mistake while reading,  it takes me forever to get caught up again.

Last week I also ordered a pair of reading glasses designed to focus in on 'stand' distance.  I haven't gotten them yet...but I'm hopeful they'll do the trick.

Yes - changing glasses will be irritating...but not seeing the music clearly is driving me insane.



November 5, 2010 at 07:55 PM ·

Tom - I have had the monovision lenses for about 20 years.  I've been a chicken as far as getting the surgery, and the lenses work great, so why change?  The only problem I have with my lenses is that the building in which I take my lessons has very dim lighting. 

I can barely make out the fingering or the positions.  I recently had to explain to my instructor that I only had 1 eye doing all the work as she was wondering why during lessons I struggled.  I suppose I'll have to get a stand light.

---Ann Marie

November 5, 2010 at 09:51 PM ·

 The problem I had with bifocals (I'm long-sighted) is that only too often I'd see 6 lines on the stave or perhaps only 4.  Sight-reading was really entertaining! So I changed to varifocals a couple of years ago and the problem was now solved.  My varifocals have 3 principal regions, the lowest is for very close work, the middle is for general vision including reading music from a stand (I specified this) and the top for long distance, and a smooth transition from one region to another.  

A different problem I had with orchestral cello in recent years, and this was a significant factor that led me to make the change from cello to violin, was the side separation of two cellists reading from one stand, due to the width of the cello and the bowing, which is horizontally across the body.  This may cause a problem for one or both cellists, especially if age comes into the equation, in that the player on the right can sometimes have a problem in reading the left hand part of the left hand page at an acute angle, and vice  versa for the other player. I still play the cello in a quartet and in a barn dance band, but then I have my individual stand and there's no problem. 

At one time I tried glasses with a prescription specifically for reading music on a stand.  They were fine ... until I needed to glance at the conductor who would then be a blur at that distance, either through the glasses or above them.

November 5, 2010 at 09:54 PM ·

Well I wear varifocals - and they're useless in orchestra. Luckily, as I get older my short sight is lengthening, and I can see the music pretty well with no glasses. If I couldn't, I would get single-vision glasses specifically for music - maybe even take a stand and music along to the optician for an extra check in the eye test.

November 5, 2010 at 11:21 PM ·

I'm not yet up to orchestral level, but I do wear progressive lenses and find that they can be problematic.  If I don't hold my head exactly right the music isn't in focus.  Worse yet, sometimes I'll misread a note, and I've had one note of a double stop disappear completely.

You pretty much have to be looking exactly where you want to read.  In particular, I've found the lower outside corners of the lenses to be useless to look through.  So far I've usually been able to get by with tilting my head properly, but if it becomes too much I switch to my old set of single-focus glasses, which I keep in my violin case.

November 6, 2010 at 02:18 AM ·

 I have a wonderful eye doctor who will set up whatever glasses I need. He does glasses for orchestra people who bring in their instruments and music, and set up as they would play, then he makes glasses to fit the situation. For me he made a set for doing things like cutting bridges and fitting soundposts, after I decided the distance I preferred to work at, and I have a different set for the computer distance, too. It's really great, and not horribly expensive. Since I read mostly on the bus, commuting, he set up my bifocals for that (a bit closer because there's a seat in front of me keeping me from stretching out.

November 6, 2010 at 12:15 PM ·

In a parallel Universe that eye doctor would be a superb luthier! 

November 6, 2010 at 01:01 PM ·

I'm not in an orchestra, but do occasionally share a music stand with my teacher when we're working on duets.  I found my progressive lenses impossible to work with, and if I tried not wearing glasses I had to lean forward to see the music (leading to poor playing posture and the ever-present danger of whacking my violin or bow into the stand!).

I measured the ideal distance (safe for violins, bows AND stands), and had a pair of single-vision glasses made that would allow me to see well at that distance.  It's working very well.  The point someone made about not being able to see a conductor seems very valid, though -- I'm not sure what I'd do in that situation.

November 6, 2010 at 03:27 PM ·

One shouldn't worry about looking at the conductor, its often better for the performance not to!

I always get single vision lenses set for the right distance. The only problem is that I can't see the front desk stand if any new bowings are put in - so I insist on a very young desk partner aged between 17 and 24 and definitely female, who can do all the work on the bowings...

Thje last time a played in an orchestra a few months ago I had a very nice young lady aged about 21 who was a final year student at the Academy, and she managed the bowings extremely well. I sharpened her pencil for her, to show my appreciation. She even kept me from falling asleep during those long verbal instructions from the conductor, and when the winds played something for the tenth time to get it right, and when we had long rests in dirge like second violin and viola bits.

But who wants orchestra anyway, life is too short and there are better things to enjoy, like chamber musak.

November 6, 2010 at 03:51 PM ·

Peter, I agreed with everything you said until the last bit. While I enjoy my quartet rehearsals, for me anyway, orchestra is still the no. 1.

Agree about conductors - in one of the orchestras I was in, the girl directly behind me was only just over 5'. I'm 6'2" and not exactly slim (most would say that's an understatement). She was quite happy sat directly behind me, and said she moved the desk sideways if she ever wanted to watch the conductor.

November 6, 2010 at 04:13 PM ·


You should get a medal and a knighthood for still liking orchestra after all these years!!!

By the way, Peter Mountain studied with Sasha Lasserson for a while here in London many years ago. I think I met him (PM) when I deputised in the BBC Straining orchestra which he led. A long time ago. I seem to remember once crashing my car on ice trying to get to a rehearsal on time. Mad days.

November 6, 2010 at 07:15 PM ·

Our new chamber orchestra conductor who took over a few months ago insisted right from the start that he must be able to see everybody and that everybody must be able to see him.  No hiding from the fellow.  But he is a very good conductor (and cellist), and we're very happy to have him.

November 7, 2010 at 01:09 AM ·

Peter, I was probably there in Bristol in those days. 1970-73. And for the last year, we were cut down to the Academy of the BBC. I learned most of the little I know from Peter - he changed my playing completely, and still by far the best leader I've played for. He's written a couple of fascinating books - "Scraping a Living" and "Further Scrapings". About life in the Philharmonia in the early 50s, then Liverpool and then Bristol.

November 7, 2010 at 08:20 AM ·

This is much beyond a simple glasses solution but when I had Lasik surgery one eye was focused for reading and my dominant distance eye was focused for distance. It took about a week to get used to flipping between eyes, but now I have complete control over looking at my fingerboard (left eye dominant ) and looking up at the conductor (right eye dominant).

November 7, 2010 at 10:51 AM ·


Re the BBC Academy/training orchestra

It's highly likely that we have met then. In those days I was under sentence and a viola player - unlike now when I've been given parole and can enjoy playing the lovely old fiddle again. So much easier and much more fun than the viola. I was always a rubbish viola player anyway. I used to drive peolpe mad by playing violin works on the viola, even the ones that nobody had yet arranged, such as the Spring sonata, and the Beethoven Romances, not to mention choice snippets from the Brahms, Beethoven and Bruch concertos.

Oh yes, and I played the Walton viola concerto, but I hated it. (The Bartok was great, but the Walton ...)

November 7, 2010 at 11:04 AM ·

@ Hope & Stanley

This may be an impertinent question which exposes once and for all my complete ignorance and my imminent departure in disgrace - but you look at your fingerboard while playing in an orchestral situation? The only time I look at my fingerboard is when I pick up and put down the violin before and after playing.

November 7, 2010 at 11:17 AM ·

I think you are right Juian, I normally wouldn't think of looking at the fingerboard (even when sober ...) - but then maybe occasionally when doing pizz as I'm not too good at that, but even then, hardly ever.

Of course I do check my left hand position and action in a mirror sometimes, to see how bad it might have become, and if the fingers are working too hard. Always useful for me at least.

By the way, which bit is the fingerboard?

November 7, 2010 at 02:27 PM ·

I got my first (and last) pair of progressive glasses a few years ago. All that expense and I find them useless for everything. If you have astigmatism they can be a real problem. Optometrists these days seem to base exams with their new machines on prescribing progressive lenses, so you have to be careful if you want "single-vision" glasses that actually work for reading books or for reading music.

My last eye exam led to eyeglasses for both book reading and music reading that were set to close. I had be be re-examined and tested without the new infernal machine - just the old fashioned way by testing various lenses at the actual distances that I read books (I have long arms) and for music (a compromise between cello and violin).  Actually I can do OK with store-bought readers at 1.50 diopters.

I am probably fortunate that in the past few years I no longer need glasses for driving, or movies, of TV.


November 8, 2010 at 12:37 AM ·

I have progressive lenses.  Whether in orchestra, or anytime I use a music stand, they only get in the way.  Since the method for progressive lenses is to move your head up and down, when I move my head up, there goes the fiddle, wherever it wants... 

The only solution is to keep the glasses in the case while I play.



October 19, 2011 at 06:08 PM ·

 I'd like to resurrect this thread in order to help me understand this phenomenon.  I think I understand why progressive lenses don't work well for reading music--because the field of vision is too small?  However, what I don't get, and am kind of frustrated about, is the "solution" that people in my orchestra are resorting to because of this problem:  refusal to share a stand with someone else.  How does this help?

This business of having so many people on their own stands is problematic for a host of reasons, but mainly these: not enough stands to go around; not enough room; confusion about seating in general and in particular about who is sitting inside/outside for divisi parts; disorganized and unprofessional appearance of the orchestra; entire section dropping out on page turns; and general lack of musical cohesion within the section.  

I have tried asking individuals to sit together and they just refuse due to "eye issues" or "progressive lenses" as if this is an obvious solution. I feel like it would be insensitive to press the point too far, but I also think it's a serious enough problem that it could use some creative problem solving.  Thanks!

October 19, 2011 at 06:47 PM ·

I sympathize with the players who have vision issues. Corrective lenses can only do so much, and they limit your field of vision considerably.

Speaking as a conductor, I would prefer that each player be able to see their part, and work out a system for divisi and staggered page turning if enough players are using their own stands, than force people to share and have them make playing errors as a result of line-of-sight issues. Have the players who require their own stand to bring one to rehearsal.

Ultimately, it's about how the music sounds, and not how the group looks. After all, the wind sections of all major orchestras each use their own stands and they don't seem to have a problem with "musical cohesion." :)

October 19, 2011 at 07:01 PM ·

Great, so what kind of system would you work out?  I agree it's ultimately about sound rather than looks, but if there's not enough room for all those stands, or the section isn't together, or if everyone is dropping out on page turns, that's not just looks.  And I am not sure that wind and string sections are comparable because string sections are bigger--15 or 16 people relative to 3 or 4 at most in a wind section.  My issue is that there is no protocol or system for everyone on their own stand, but it seems like there probably should be.

October 20, 2011 at 01:08 AM ·

 I have made larger copies of the music before and used a large black piece of cardboard to extend the stand size and then moved over to the side a bit more so that the person with the eyesight issues had the stand a little more of a straight-line view.  This only works if that person sits the "page turning" seat.   I've seen others in a section sit the odd seat in the back or middle rows to accomodate the single stand.

October 20, 2011 at 05:17 AM ·

> if there's not enough room for all those stands

A music stand doesn't take up very much space.

> or the section isn't together

That's an ensemble issue resolved by rehearsal, not by changing the numbers of stands.

> if everyone is dropping out on page turns

So assign every other player a number (1 and 2), and the 1's drop out and turn their pages four bars earlier, and the 2's play to the end of the page then turn.

> My issue is that there is no protocol or system for everyone on their own stand

And then it becomes our job to create protocols for these sorts of situations. I like the idea of providing enlarged parts so people can share stands...I would prefer that the strings stay two to a stand so that they can sit closer together, but sometimes my preferences are overruled by physical necessity...

October 20, 2011 at 10:47 AM ·

If you look closely at my profile photo you just might see that I'm wearing two pairs of glasses, one over the other: my normal ones for correcting myopia and the odd cylinder, and a pair of over-the-counter +1 dioptry ones to adjust for the distance of the music stand. Apart from looking odd, the setup works quite well. I have been going to have new ones made for over a year.

October 20, 2011 at 05:16 PM ·

I posted two years ago...and am still trying to find the best fix to the problem.

The 'reading' glasses I ordered didn't work for me...so I never really wore them.  But I suppose I had to try.

I just got new progressives with bigger lenses.  I don't like the bigger lenses, but they are much better.

I'm trying out different contacts too.  I have dry eye issues, but the new monovision lenses I'm testing are quite comfortable - but not the best either for seeing details with (it's not a clarity issue - can't quite describe what it is that makes it hard to see).  Now I'm waiting to try bifocal contact lenses.  I'm hoping they do the trick.

In our orchestra, mostly due to all the eye issues...we each have our own stand.  It's really not a big deal - and it's been my saving grace.


October 20, 2011 at 08:39 PM ·

Karen, I agree with you that this is a problem.  The section I usually play in contains a couple of people who won't share stands, and more often than not, the people who prefer to share end up sitting with the ones who won't.  I feel like it does have a negative effect on the cohesiveness of the section; everyone is off in their own little world.  (The comparison to the winds overlooks that each wind player is playing a different part- they couldn't share if they wanted to.)

Mendy's suggestion to blow up the music is a good one.  Especially when using old, heavily marked, yellowed rental parts, clean copies on white paper, a little larger, can make a huge difference.  As concertmaster, are you responsible for seating assignments?  If so, do put the people who will share together.  How is the light in the rehearsal hall and performance space?  Using stand lights can help if the light isn't the best.  Can you tell how many people genuinely have a problem seeing and how many are just feeling a little special?  Does anyone want their own stand because they loathe the person they are supposed to sit with?


October 20, 2011 at 09:36 PM ·

I don't think it's a matter of sharing a stand.  I have enough trouble just practising by myself.  I have progressive lenses which work beautifully for other things, because I've gotten so used to moving my head so I'm looking through the proper part of the lens that I don't even notice it.  But when playing violin you don't have that freedom of movement; you have to hold your head just right as part of holding the violin, and can't easily move to use the right part of your lenses.  As a result there are always parts of the page that are sufficiently out of focus that I often misread notes.

My solution was to get a pair of single-focus glasses designed for the distance to the stand.  It's not perfect, but it's better than progressives in this case.

October 20, 2011 at 10:25 PM ·

Go to 39 dollar glasses.com. The cellist in my quartet bought 3 pair - he sticks one at his computer at work, one at home, and one in his cello case. He had single focus lenses designed for an average of his computer, music stand, and for reading distance.


Also, you can look for coupons to get the price below $39.

October 21, 2011 at 06:19 PM ·

 Lisa, yes, the enlarged parts are good and I have already made some.  (I was making an enlarged copy for someone last week and then decided while I was at it to make one for myself and my stand partner too.)  We do have stand lights and the church where we rehearse and perform recently upgraded the lighting--a very much needed upgrade.  I wear corrective (although not progressive) lenses myself and have for more than 30 years--so it's not that I don't understand vision problems altogether.  

As concertmaster I am not "officially" responsible for seating--but no one is officially responsible (except that the conductor chooses the principals) so I get asked a lot.

I think you put your finger on it--it's the issue of genuine eye problems vs. "feeling a little special". I can't tell which is which. There is an 80+ year old lady with big thick glasses who is willing and even wants to share a stand, and there is a youngish one with average glasses who isn't--you can't tell by just looking at age or size/type of glasses.  It's absolutely no problem to have one or 2 players on their own stand in any given section, but above that number it becomes kind of chaotic.  And then sometimes new people come who would be more than happy to share a stand, but if no one is willing to share with them that's not a very welcoming atmosphere.   

October 21, 2011 at 09:33 PM ·

I am not sure I understand the stand sharing issue.  Unless both players need to be very close to the stand, there should be enough room for them to sit wherever they need to to read the music.  One may sit a bit further away than the other, but it is not clear to me why this would be a problem unless someone has to sit quite far away from the stand.  Presumably, most people have glasses that allow them to see the music at some reasonable distance from the stand.  Maybe I lack imagination.

October 24, 2011 at 02:50 AM ·

During my last eye exam I learned you can be tested for different distances and full lenses made for just that distance, but he had already dilated my eyes, so we couldn't do that. I have to go back and be retested,  after telling him the distance. Because they will be single vision there will be none of those issues of limited areas like the bifocals and progressive lenses.

October 25, 2011 at 03:57 PM ·

The issue with sharing a stand, when one or both violinists are wearing progressive lenses, is that there is a very narrow 'clear' vision range.  It can be difficult  to get the stand 'just so' to accomodate the idiosyncracies of both players' lenses...

October 26, 2011 at 04:21 PM ·

Very interesting conversation.  I wear progressives but didn't meet this problem until I started getting music for a Scottish fiddle group I just joined.  I find that good light on the page helps a lot.  My teacher is in her 80's and until this year played in the Berkeley Symphony.  She wears glasses.  I'm going to ask her how she manages.

October 27, 2011 at 03:51 AM ·

I wear 2 different progressive lenses (or multifocals as we call them in Australia). One for everday use. Another one for orchestra, I had to have the optometrist make this specially; most of the lens is for reading but the last top part of the lens is for distance vision. It's working well.


This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email

Violinist.com is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Violinist.com Shopping Guide
Violinist.com Shopping Guide

Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Jargar Strings

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop



Los Angeles Violin Shop


String Masters

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of Violinist.com in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews.

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine