Your gaze on stage can take your song to a new level –says Jeannie Deva
It may not be appropriate to sing every lyric of every song looking directly at your audience or individual audience members.
But if you’re avoiding looking at them, your audience may feel shut out or unengaged. Being withdrawn from your audience like that, your performance might lack magnetism.
On what basis can do you choose to connect with your eyes?
Eye contact should be a decision based on suitability for the song, not on a fixed method or emotional restriction.
Similar to books or movies, song lyrics represent a dialogue, a narration of thoughts in a character’s mind.
Let the Lyrics Guide You
Additionally, the lyrics can be in first (“I”), second (“you”) or third person (“he” or “she”) in a grammatical sense.
Registering whether or not you’re singing to someone in a dialogue or are relaying your thoughts as in a daydream can add depth to your song interpretation.
This will inform you as to what to do with your eyes, with your gaze, while on stage.
However, even when your eyes are closed, continue to project the energy of the song outward. This will help you maintain your audience connection.
What you do with your eyes and whether they’re open or closed will differ, depending upon your message.
There are no rules about this except that what you do with your eyes, your gaze and facial expressions will either complement the song interpretation or it will detract from it.
The point is to make a choice.
Try This Out
Look over the lyrics of a song and take note of whether they represent a dialogue, narrative or introspective thoughts; notice if that changes as the song progresses.
The lines that can be sung to someone else can be sung directly to the audience and would ordinarily include looking at audience members.
Other sentiments can be sung with eyes closed or looking somewhere other than at the audience.
If you feel uncomfortable with eye contact, you can look in between faces or just over a person’s head (or video camera) as if you’re looking into someone’s eyes.
From the audience’s perspective, it will look as though you’re making eye contact.
As you build confidence, transition into making direct eye contact to build greater performance power.
My Reactions To This Week’s Peer Review Vids
Mike – Never Will (original)
Cheers Mike! You have a wonderful voice and perform with passion. Your voice beautifully supported your expression of the song. As well, you use good mic technique which kept your voice present throughout this dynamic performance. I really wanted you to look at me at least some of the time so I’d feel the song even more. Looking at your audience is certainly not something that’s needed or appropriate all the time. However, since a song needs to be a communication that is going from you to your listening/viewing audience, find those phrases that make sense to share directly to your audience with your eyes as well as your voice – you’ll create an even more powerful connection with your audience. For more on this, see my article for VoiceCouncil above.
Dr. Spark & the Soul Diva – Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow (cover)
It looks like you were both having fun, which certainly makes watching enjoyable. “The soul diva” has a sweet voice and the song choice and key chosen for the song suited her. Unfortunately, most of the backup harmony was off pitch. If this is due to not being able to hear what you’re singing, I hope you can rectify your monitor level or otherwise better situate your PA speakers for use as monitors. At an outdoor café or restaurant, performers are mostly providing ambiance. Resultantly, giving a song “your all” would not necessarily be your objective. To better show what you can do, I encourage you to make and submit a video of a song that you can really perform with gusto.
© 2011 All Rights Reserved. This article has been adapted from Jeannie Deva’s soon to be released eBook: “Singer’s Guide to Powerful Performances” which includes hundreds of linked video examples, 23 information-packed chapters, 55 exercises and numerous practice and application tips. For a few of the exercises available, go to: www.YouTube.com/PowerfulPerformances and subscribe for updates. Follow @JeannieDeva
Jeannie Deva is a celebrity voice and performance coach and recording studio vocal specialist with a list of impressive clients and endorsements. Jeannie teaches privately in Los Angeles and in the very near future to students worldwide via her Online Vocal Academy. Visit her new singer’s performance development channel: www.YouTube.com/PowerfulPerformances and her voice enhancement for vocalists: The Contemporary Vocalist Book and CD series and The Deva Method® Vocal Warm-Ups and Cool-Downs CD. www.JeannieDeva.com www.Facebook.com/JeannieDeva – www.Twitter.com/JeannieDeva