Are you a singer or a listener? Maybe you are both; you are welcome either way. In this article, you will find out what singers think when they’re singing with her eyes closed and much much more.
Singers sing with their eyes closed because that empowers them to concentrate on their inner world and connect with their emotions. With their eyes closed they can wholly immerse themselves and scorn outer distractions. But they should proceed with caution since the audience might feel disconnected.
Singing in 3D Mode and Staying in Tune
I know for a fact that a lot of singers visualize the music when they close their eyes, but they might not be immediately aware that they are doing that. A friend of mine, who is also a singer, describes it as connecting with the song. This helps them stay in tune.
I bet that if we could see what was happening inside his mind while he is performing, we would see notes flying all over the place! This is what I call 3D singing! When you get the audio stimuli but also the visual stimuli that you create inside your mind.
I, for example, may not be a professional singer, but when I do sing, I sometimes can “see” the notes its as if I’m reading it a music sheet or as if I watch the song being programmed inside a DAW (digital audio workstation).
I see the notes in sequence and movement; I notice how the low notes transition to the highs and how harmonies are formed—seeing a musical note and its “place” works as a trigger that helps my voice to “hit” that note more accurately.
Try this. If you want, at your next performance, notice what you see and where your focus goes. Is it internal or external? Also, you don’t have to see something, but if you do “see,” it is interesting to know what it is, you see.
Singing with Close Eyes Can Feel Liberating
In music, there are rules, and these rules must be followed at least to some extent. That said “artistic freedom” or “artistic interpretation,” does exist and should be combined with the musical rules. This essentially means that every human perceives art (because music is art) in a very personal and likely different way.
Let’s take painting as an example. One may look at Mona Lisa and get a particular emotion while at the same moment, the person next to them that is looking at the same painting might experience a totally different feeling.
This also happens in music so much for the listener and the performer.
Therefore the emotional canvas of singer “A” may not just be different than the emotional canvas of singer “B,” but singer “A” may alter that canvas as time passes, adding and removing information.
Think about it, have you ever heard a breakup song? I’m guessing you have, and I’m also guessing it likely had a different impact on you when you were single and a much different impact right after the end of a relationship.
Where am I going with this? I am simply trying to point out that when a singer performs, they sometimes close her eyes in order to focus on a specific emotion so that they can “paint” the song with their feelings.
This gives them the freedom to add their own signature without changing too much the character of the song.
Signing with Eyes Closed Will Annoy Only 50% of the Audience
Most musicians are rather shy; singers are no exception. It is a paradox, really.
Musicians want to perform in front of large audiences, which is an act that requires mental strength, confidence, and self-assurance, yet many of these musicians will feel their legs shake, and palms sweat before a live show.
There are two different types of audiences.
About 50% of the audience prefers the singer to connect and engage them while they are on stage, and the remaining 50% don’t mind if the singer closes their eyes, creates their own bubble, and immerse themselves in their singing.
For me, it depends really. If they are performing an upbeat song, I want the singer to engage with me, and if it is a slow song like a ballad, I dont mind if they create their own cocoon and “get lost” in the music. Hell, sometimes, if they are totally immersed, I can “feel” their performance better!
This Is What Singers Have to Say About Performing with Their Eyes Closed
These are comments singers placed at an online forum answering the question: “Why do you close your eyes periodically when singing on stage.”
“I think it’s a concentration thing. When I’m playing, I find myself either closing my eyes or not actually looking at anything. My entire being is focused on one thing, the music I’m producing.”
Interesting. The following comment is my favorite:
“It can be a variety of things .
Sometimes I close my eyes to get in touch with my inner self and to really get an idea of what I want to come out. Instead of focusing on the audience.
Sometimes, the sheer intensity of the raw emotion is so much that it just happens of it’s own accord. It’s hard to explain. There is nothing like it on the face of the earth. At least nothing else that I’ve experienced. often it feels like something personal . . . Something important is being ripped out of my very soul. To the point where it is almost painful. Sometimes I will end a solo and I’m literally panting, out of breath, other times it feels like a great weight has been lifted off of my shoulders.
Basically, it is like every thought, feeling or emotion that you’ve never ever been able to successfully express to anyone before comes gushing out of you all at once. You put every single ounce of energy you have into what you are doing. And all of those people listening, watching and paying attention, on some deep, subconscious level, understand. And they respond to your energy by putting their own energy out there and it becomes this beautiful, infinite feedback loop. This interaction between musician and listener. Sometimes, it can be the most satisfying thing ever and gives you a sense of closure unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced. Other times it can be like slamming your head against a brick wall.
Music can be a very fickle mistress sometimes.“
Wow, this was very well said!
But not everyone’s answer was so poetic; this is what another singer posted:
“When I’m on stage, my eyes are almost always closed or permanently fixed on the ceiling. One simple reason – I am petrified of being on stage in front of people.”
What Type of Singer Are You and How Does This Affect Your Focus?
Since reading these comments, I did some digging around and discovered something exciting! Us humans are divided into three types of learners: A) Visual, B) auditory, and C) kinesthetic.
Visual learners learn the best and retain more information when seeing it. They learn best through the means of text, pictures, charts, and diagrams.
Auditory learners learn the best and retain more information through listening; this type responds better to lectures, group discussions, audiobooks, and music.
Kinesthetic learners learn the best and retain more information through physical experience; they like to write, touch and feel an object.
Can you guess in which category do most musicians belong? The answer is the auditory category. As a result, when an auditory person is performing life, he would preferably focus only on the music and his voice while blocking all other incoming signals that come from feeling and looking.
Singing with Your Eyes Open Requires More Brainpower
Study shows that when musicians perform with her eyes open, they need more brainpower. They need that extra energy to be able to ignore what happens around them and focus on their performance.
Let’s say you are a singer and you are performing live, looking at the audience might distract you and interfere with your performance, that is why a lot of singers close their eyes periodically while singing.
Singing with Eyes Closed: Beware You Don’t Lose the Connection with the Audience
If you’re singing with your eyes closed while performing watch out, you don’t go too deep inside your head or avoid eye contact for too long.
I say this because becoming too self-conscious can have a negative result on your audience since you should at all times be communicating and showing emotion; this is what makes your listeners feel special. That is what a true performer does.
Singing with Eyes Closed Is Often a Sign of Stress
We already talked before on how many musicians are somewhat shy, but shyness often comes paired with stress.
- When someone sings with her eye closed is usually a sign of stress, and stress is a form of fear.
- There are a zillion things the performer could be stressing about but the most common is the fear of rejection.
Friends of mine discovered that while performing, they had a mental picture or movie that they kept playing before and during their show. The mental image one of my friends had was that after he finished his performance, the crowd instead of cheering booed him and demanded he gets off stage.
This, of course, never happened in real life, but since the mind, cant distinguish the difference between what is real and what is imaginary, his mental representation has a toll on him.
Consciously, we all know the difference between imagination and reality, but if you consistently imagine a particular situation matched with high emotional levels, you can create the same response you would have if the imaginary situation were real!
Trust me on this one. This is not my opinion; instead, this is backed by science.
Singing with Eyes Closed: Don’t Become Cartoonish
There is a difference between emphasizing and overemphasizing as there is a difference in performing and over performing.
Performing live can be challenging. It requires you to strike the right balance of passion and intensity. Every time I see someone performing a song without emotion, I lose my interest rather quickly, and if I see someone overemphasizing their movements on stage or over-articulating certain words, I might start laughing (on the inside lol) because their visual presentation is not in line with the audio message they are delivering.
Here is an example:
Think of someone singing “Hello” from Adele or “Yesterday” by The Beatles combined with opera movements and the exaggerated articulation style that goes with it. Wouldn’t that be funny? 🙂
The Eye Trick Pro Singers Use
I know first-hand that professional singers use a technique that allows them to keep their eyes open while singing without it having a negative impact on their performance.
This technique has no specific name, and it’s very simple.
It involves the singer keeping his/her eyes open while performing, looking towards the audience, but without looking at someone in particular. They simply gaze towards the crowd giving the illusion that they are looking at them when they are merely looking towards them without really paying attention to what’s happening.
The goal of this technique is to train your brain to know when its time to ignore external stimuli and when it’s time to interact with the audience.
If you try this in the beginning, you will likely focus 95% on yourself 5% on the audience; this is okay since you’re still in learning mode. As you keep practicing, your will be able to divide your attention 50-50. That is 50% focused on your performance and 50% focused on your surroundings.
When you achieve this, you will be able to sing in tune, deliver emotion while you’re singing, and also interact with the audience and your bandmates.
If you look at great performers such as Freddie Mercury, Michael Jackson, James Brown, or Bruno Mars, what sets them apart (and one of the reasons we like them so much) is that they make us feel special by interacting with us.
When a performer is doing their show, looking at the crowd and smiling or giving a wink at the camera can have a tremendous effect on the audience even if their actions are not intended to someone specific.
What Have Other Musicians to Say About Performing with Their Eyes Closed?
Singers are not the only ones who can perform with eyes closed. Look at guitar players, piano players, or any other musician, and you will see them close their eyes at some point. This usually happens when they’re soloing or delivering a very emotional song.
I have heard from pro musicians that performing with your eyes closed is a sign that you have entirely mastered that piece of music.
One player even said that after he learns a song, he tries to play it at night, in the dark, with just enough light to make out the keyboard. He continued saying that this allows him to exercise his memory of the piece and keeps him focused on the sound of his piano.
Another player said that “the ability to play with eyes closed only appears in a piece once I fully mastered it.”
I agree with him.
Playing a piece of music solely by memory and by ear requires a lot of effort and familiarity with the instrument. I can see how this can be similar to singers who must perform songs from memory.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I did writing it!
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