When singing, we bare our souls, standing in front of an audience, in an attempt to convey a message, and truly show how good the music is. In essence, singing is storytelling.
I recently taught several masterclasses in which the students asked: What is the most important thing I can do to improve my performance? I'm sure they were expecting me to talk about diction, lyrical line, dynamics or perhaps even vocal pedagogy. As singers we are taught technique, languages, stage movement, and in the early years are even taught pitch and counting. However, we are forgetting the most basic form of communication: THE EYES.
Definition of EYE:
(Noun): Globular organs in the head through which people see
(Verb): To look at or watch closely with interest.
I can't tell you the number of times I have watched artists performing in concert, and they sing an entire piece with their eyes closed, or look bored, and then wonder why they don't have the audience sitting in the palm of their hand. The answer is simple: THE EYES SPEAK VOLUMES! Would you ever go to a job interview and look down or close your eyes every time you responded to a question? No, because that would show a lack of self confidence, and you would come across as less believable, disinterested, insecure, or masking emotions. The same is true when singing--THE EYES ARE THE WINDOW TO THE SOUL. It is a form of nonverbal communication which allows you to portray confidence, and a respect for the audience, and an understanding for the music. Use this tool to flirt with the audience, or express the emotion in your heart, and you will surely inspire. If you sing with your eyes closed all the time, you might as well be singing in the shower for yourself, because we won't be able to fully connect with you. You don’t have to look directly into the audience members eyes, but look slightly above them, so they can FEEL you are present and connecting to them.
Since the beginning of time, we have valued the Eye. In India and the yoga/meditation world we talk of awakening the 3rd eye, the Bible mentions the eye more than 800 times, and in many cultures, charms in the shape of eyes are used to protect us from bad energy.
Eye contact is how souls catch on fire. Practice in front of a mirror, looking into your own eyes, and you will see how important that connection is. If you covered your face from the upper lip downward with a piece of paper, could someone still tell what you were thinking about? Allow your eyes to tell a story. Eye contact is more intimate than words will ever be.
"The face is the mirror of the mind, and eyes, without speaking, confess the secrets of the heart". --St. Jerome.