Singing with Eyes Wide Shut


To close or not to close: that is the question –says Mark DeLisser

It has often been said that the eyes are the windows of the soul.

Singers often confront me with the question, “is it wrong to close my eyes throughout a song?”

The simple answer is that just using your eyes in any intentional way is going to enhance your performance.

The key is that your eyes are linked to your thought process that, in turn, should be rooted in the meaning of the song.

Communication, whether in speech or song, should include facial expressions no matter how small or big.

Knowing the meaning of a song is key to truthful communication – if you achieve this, then your eyes will do what is right for that song.

Try and see the eyes, open or closed, as a device that you can use in any way you feel, rather than making a conscious or mechanical decision to open or close them.

The Meaning of Closed and Open Eyes

I think that closed eyes show an internalised thought, a thought that requires us to ponder, remember or visualise an image –or maybe convey a state of solitude.

However, some songs demand that we speak to people directly.

In this music, we have some kind of message to deliver; we need to bare our soul!

These kinds of intentions will require direct eye contact; when delivered with confidence – and eyes – the words really hit home.

Just think of a moment of time that you enjoyed: the taste of a meal that was so divine, that rollercoaster ride that you went on, a good night sleep that you really needed, how angry you got when some let you down, or how happy you were when you received that gift from that special someone.

All of these states of mind come from a true place and will instinctively have a facial expression with either open or closed eyes.

So the answer to the question is: let the meaning of the song and your thoughts control the opening and closing of your soul-windows.

My Reactions to This Week’s Peer Review Vids

Sira Subieta –Motorcycle Drive By (Cover)

Hi Sira – You have a nice clean innocent tone. Be careful on your tuning and articulation. You display quite a lot of jaw tension which restricts your vowel shaping and overall articulation, especially when singing softly. Remember that you still need to articulate even when singing softly. Good “gear change” of energy towards the close; this worked well -a really nice moment of emotional connection.

Joe Andre – Shake it Out (Cover)

Hi Joe Good energy –and you play well too. You also display a good range use which feels supported. I would love to see more of an emotional connection: allow your eyes to really reflect the meaning of this song. Are you reading the lyrics? There were some tuning issues in the second half of the song which you need to watch – don’t let your energy make you lose your intonation. Watch your posture when sitting down too. Well performed, but I’d like to see you standing next time. This will just give this the extra spark to really fly.

Katie – I Wanna Be Like You (Cover)

Hi Katie – This is a really fun song to sing. You need to have fun with it as it feels like you are taking it too seriously. There were moments that your pitching suffered throughout. You need to really work on your intonation to make sure you are hitting all the notes. You are also putting an ‘h’ at the end of some of your words where it shouldn’t be. Main message: just have some fun with this song.

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Mark De-Lisser is a vocal coach, vocal arranger, choir leader and vocal producer who has worked with some of the top vocal talent in contemporary music today including Jessie J, Olly Murs, Jamie Woon and Beverly Knight. Mark has taught at many recognized music institutions and held several high profile TV roles including Vocal Coach on BBC’s The Voice UK. Mark actively leads the renowned ACM Gospel Choir and has published “Sing Out!”, two volumes of pop songs for contemporary choirs. Find out more on Mark’s website: www.markdelisser.com

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  • al-andrew

    A great article on this topic ! So many singers close their eyes to cop out of looking at their audience,this is possibly one of the worst habbits to have as a performer….but as always there is a time and place and a motive for everything we do from the platform :)