Navigating the Score and Strings: A Discussion for tonebuddies with Bifocals and Progressive Lenses
We hope you're all hitting the right notes! Recently, an intriguing topic surfaced in our discussions. We found ourselves delving into the often overlooked challenge of reading sheet music and seeing guitar strings clearly while wearing bifocals or progressive lenses.
Here are some of the points that came up:
The struggle with traditional advice on music stand placement: It seems it doesn't quite work for everyone, especially those wearing bifocals.
The dilemma between seeing the strings or the music: We discovered that sometimes it's tough to have both in clear sight.
The potential of progressive lenses: These were suggested as an alternative. Has anyone tried them?
The close relationship with sheet music: One of our Tonebuddies shared that they need to have the music so close, it's practically touching their nose!
The success of "computer" glasses: Progressive lenses covering near and medium distance have been helpful for some.
Varifocal contact lenses to the rescue: One Tonebuddy found success with this solution recommended by their optician.
Accepting a bit of blur: Another member has come to terms with the fact that the strings might be a bit blurred when focusing on the sheet music.
We thought this topic deserved a bigger platform, and that's why we're here. We'd love to hear about your experiences with this issue. Have you found an ingenious solution or are you still looking for answers? Let's share our struggles and our handy advice. We're sure we can help each other out.
Looking forward to hearing your experiences and solutions, tonebuddies!
I’ve just got Some bi-focals made up for exactly this purpose! Took my guitar and music stand into the opticians who measured for music at 1m in the upper part of the lens and fingers at 30cm in a special lower part. Lower part works extremely well, upper part not too sure yet. You have to tilt your head down or have a high music stand to see through the upper part of the lens.
What a welcomed topic! Now I know that I’m not alone in the struggle. Even with prescription glasses it’s difficult to see both sheet music and the strings clearly. I get a headache having to adjust my focus constantly. So I enlarge a photocopy of the score and play without glasses as a work around.
I have been using progressive reading glasses for decades. The only problem I have is when performing with the score on my iPad and a very low music stand, which puts the notes just a bit too far away. Nothing compares, though, to when I was young and did not have such nearsightedness and presbyopia.
I experienced the stress of reading and playing when I was working on my Advanced Certificate in Jazz with Berklee online.
I would get finished and find that I was dizzy and could not focus for 40 - 50 minutes after playing. This was with progressives ... I discovered that the minimum focus distance was
not close enough so I was stressing my eyes to focus when looking at the fretboard.
So I had a set of progressives made with a closer focus distance but also a medium to long
distance for reading.
Works very well ... as long as I remember to wear them. I recommend close distance of
about 8 inches .... you will rarely be that close but it gives a bit of room to accomodate for
different distances. You may also want the minimum focus position to be in the top of the
lower third of the lens so that you are not moving your head like a bobblehead when you
transition from strings to score.
And I try to memorize music and hand position .... the less I look away from the music the more
I can stay in the score. I do look when making big shifts in position ... until I gain the root position
for the shift.
At one point I took my guitar, music and music stand to my eye doctor appointment. That really helped (and I do add additional fret markers for quick location on the fretboard).
This worked until I started to play in a guitar orchestra where they like us to share stands. I needed to go against the standard so that I could position the music where it would be in focus for me and I could still see the music director. I take my own chair (a drum throne) to rehearsals so that all the setup is optimal for me.
I do wear progressives. And the newest digital lenses work great. However, I am facing cataract surgery in the future and I guess that will require me to start all over again figuring out what to do.
Overall, I am pleased that into my 8th decade this is the biggest problem I face as I continue to play guitar.
I have 2 pairs of glasses – my everyday glasses and my “computer” glasses. At least, that is what my previous two optometrists call them. Both pairs have progressive lenses.
The computer glasses are the pair I use when playing my guitar. The bottom half of the glasses are set up to focus on things close to my face, such as reading a book. This section of the glasses does reasonably well with looking at the fretboard. The top half is set to focus on things that are about an arm’s length from me, such as a computer monitor or my music stand.
All in all, this arrangement works best for me if I am focused on the score on my music stand or on my right hand. I get a bit of out-of-focus when I am looking at my left hand but I try not to do this too much unless I am trying to working on a difficult fingering or jumping between positions.
I read music (wearing progressive lenses) on my iPad. I find that the flexibility in lighting and the ability to flip to landscape mode when initially studying a new work to be a big help and the progressive lenses are easier to use than single purpose glasses I’d tried previously. Harmonics are a bit of an issue with progressives, as is parallax looking at the fingerboard, but the arrangement is still a great improvement over paper scores and other types of glasses.
Yes I have the same issue. I am glad to know I am not alone. I have to make sure the "type" is large enough for me to see it. Many times I have had to scan the score into, my computer and increase the font size and then print it even though I have progressive lenses I have also developed good fingering of the notes by not looking at the fret board. My hearing of the difference of the tones does tell me If I hit the wrong note. This is a constant learning challenge. If I completely memorize the score in detail I am able to look directly at the fret board. But the closeness makes the strings fuzzy. I tried "music" glasses from my eye Doctor but they were of little help. Over the years of playing this way I have adjusted to it. It takes me longer to, learn pieces and I hope my hearing stays good. I am 78 years old and I worry about my hearing. My ears are my eyes. I hope I have encouraged others to develop their hearing.