Robert Estrin - piano expert

Glasses Made for Reading Music at the Piano

Useful tips for anyone who uses glasses to read music

In this video, Robert provides tips that are useful if you use glasses to read music. If you are looking to buy a new pair of glasses, this is the perfect video for you.

Released on December 23, 2020

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Welcome to Robert Estrin, here, with a really interesting subject for you, for many people like myself, the challenge of playing music and playing the piano with glasses. Now, I was lucky enough to be born with perfect vision. And to this day, my distance vision is 20/20, no problems, but close vision, of course, I need reading glasses like almost everybody at a certain age. And one of the problems is you put on a pair of glasses, and you can see your score fine, but the bottom of the frames oftentimes forms a line right where ... These are the glasses I usually use. Now, if I had a score up here, be fine. I could see the score. But this line on the bottom is right where the keys are, and it blurs everything out.

Now, one possibility is to get glasses that are really big, so you can see everything through the reading glasses. But it's really not necessary. So what I've found is a pair of glasses that I can see the music just fine, but they don't go very low. It's kind of the opposite. You always see people like this with reading glasses, but I like it the opposite. I can see the score fine, but the keys, I don't need the glasses for the keys. I can see them fine. They're big. It's not a problem, whatsoever. So you have to find something that works for you. Now, people with bifocals, for example, this could be really distracting, trying to play the piano.

Now, my wife is a flutist. She has specific glasses just for being able to read the music and to see a conductor. The possibilities and the combinations of what you need to see, when playing the piano, will dictate what sort of eyewear. Contact lenses, of course, could make a great choice, but even people with contact lenses eventually need reading glasses. So I wonder how many of you have found little tricks, like I talked about, like the pair that I found here. I hope they don't break because it's a really pretty unusual pair of reading glasses that I just happened to notice worked really well for this purpose.

So that's a little tip for today, for reading your music and playing the piano with glasses. I'd love to hear from you, any challenges you've faced or solutions that might help other people. Thanks for joining me, again. I'm Robert Estrin, here at, your online piano resource. You're welcome to subscribe. Thank you, all that people who have already subscribed and Patreon followers. I'll see you next time. Once again, I'm Robert Estrin, here at
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Ken Cory * VSM MEMBER * on February 21, 2021 @7:59 pm PST
I've always had special glasses for reading sheet music (and coincidentally, for working at the computer, which is about the same distance). My optometrist adjusted the focal length to suit my needs. You will find they are very cooperative if you explain your reasons. These glasses are NOT bifocal or progressive, because that type of lens distorts the visual field and makes it hard to judge leaps, etc. The glasses I currently wear have large frames, so there is no issue with the lower edge blocking my view of the keyboard. My other glasses are for walking and driving, and for the theatre, and they are progressive.
Robert - host, on February 22, 2021 @11:34 am PST
Glad you found glasses that suit multiple purposes!
Wyn Galpin on December 26, 2020 @12:50 am PST
I have struggled to find the right glasses for playing piano but for practice I actually print the score quite large so I can concentrate on learning. It's only really suitable for practice but it helps me. For other occasions I use reading glasses with high magnification because I find I only need to read the music, I don't need to see the keys particularly.
Robert - host, on December 26, 2020 @9:16 am PST
The keys are no problem for me either! But reading glasses help to see the music more clearly. That's why the glasses that sit high on my face work so well!
Meera Thadani on December 23, 2020 @10:00 am PST
I have progressive lenses and asked my optometrist to make the intermediate distance section (to read music) deep enough to see 2 pages of music on my stand. I took my music and stand to show him where I placed my scores. When I look above this region I can see the conductor easily. It was the best solution for me.
Dr. Mark Atkinson on December 23, 2020 @9:45 am PST
No line bifocals were a disaster trying to play so like others I went to a single focal length pair of 'piano glasses' - 24.5 inches in my case with largish lenses. I still have one problem which is if I play a recital or under stage lights they can fog up. It's okay if playing from memory but from the score . . . any suggestions.
Bill McClellan * VSM MEMBER * on December 23, 2020 @8:26 am PST
I wear bifocals most of the time but for playing the piano I use my "piano glasses": I had the optometrist make a pair of glasses for me that are optimized at 24 inches.This way I can see both the music and the keyboard without a problem. These same glasses also work well when using a computer. In fact, the optometrist had a checkbox on the form for "computer" or "piano" glasses.
Robert Estrin on December 23, 2020 @10:18 am PST
My wife is a flutist and has a pair of glasses that are perfect for reading the music and seeing the conductor!
John Beach * VSM MEMBER * on December 23, 2020 @6:57 am PST
Anyone who has "hunted" for focus with a pair of lineless bi-focal glasses, bobbing one's head up-and-down until finding it, should experience satisfaction in reading glasses for situations such as sight-reading music or working at a PC or laptop.
Willene Botha * VSM MEMBER * on December 23, 2020 @6:09 am PST
Dear Robert,
Your piano reading glasses -- what type , make or category are they .I really need to improve my situation .Thanks for sharing

Robert Estrin on December 23, 2020 @10:20 am PST
The reading glasses I use at the piano are off the shelf glasses from Costco. They
happen to have a frame that sits very high on my face so I can see underneath the
glasses at the keys without going through the glasses or having interference from
the frames.
Fulvia * VSM MEMBER * on December 23, 2020 @5:44 am PST
People who end up wearing bifocals have a few choices when playing the piano. In my case, for normal day wearing I have long distance for the top part and reading for the bottom part. For the piano I have intermediate distance for the top and reading for the bottom, however I think that just intermediate distance for the entire lens would work as well. As for the frame, I try to chose one that is fairly large and does not have a dark color, because that becomes an issue when looking down. Once I tried to get a pair of glasses with progressive lenses, those without the horizontal line. It was a disaster for me, I would get dizzy especially going downstairs. But the real problem was that the field of sharp vision was very narrow, maybe only 30 degrees straight in front of me, The sides were badly blurred, I had to turn my head to look in the rear view mirror of my car, and even move my head side to side to read the page of a book.
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