Connecting with Your Audience through the Song Lyrics
Acting Your Song: Accounting for Interludes
Performing Like a Singing Pro: Audience Concerns

Where to Focus when Performing Your Song

When singing a song, you can sometimes focus on one spot and sometimes have to look around. Knowing the story of your song helps you understand the type of song that you’re singing, and this understanding tells you where to focus your eyes. If you’re talking to just one person, you may focus on the back wall or a place out in front of you.

An example of a song in which you may talk to just one person is “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” by Mike Reid and Allen Shamblin. If that person isn’t in the room, but you’re daydreaming of him, you may gaze out into the distance longingly. An example of this is Elton John singing for Princess Diana’s funeral. She wasn’t present, but you knew that he was singing to her.

Your eyes may move around when you’re talking to a group of people, but they don’t move like you’re watching a tennis match. In the opera Così fan tutte, Guglielmo talks to all the women in the audience when he sings, “Donne mie, la fate a tanti,” which translates, “I would like a word with all you lovely women.”

Notice other people as they’re telling a story: Their eyes automatically look around in different ways. When you’re trying to remember something, you may look up at the ceiling. This is a common reflex when you’re trying to dig something out of your memory bank. When you’re watching one person, you may hold your gaze on that person and not look away.

If you start to think about what you’re saying, you may look away from your audience as you think. These are all natural and normal movements of your eyes. When singing a song, you can also have this same natural movement of your eyes moving away from the person you’re addressing and then back.

Closing your eyes isn’t an option when you want to act and sing. In everyday conversations with other people, you keep your eyes open. You don’t have a conversation with someone and close your eyes unless you’re lying on the couch talking to someone across the room.

Singing a song involves having a conversation with someone and telling a story. You want your eyes open to talk to your audience. Closing your eyes cuts off your biggest means of communicating with your audience. They’re left out because, by closing your eyes, you’re communicating only with yourself. Give your audience a reason to look at you and watch you when you sing.

If you get distracted looking someone in the eye as you’re singing, try looking at their hairline instead. Try it sometime on some friends and ask them if they can tell whether you’re looking them in the eye. More often than not, they probably have no idea.

Ask your friend to do the same to you so you can see what you look like. Try this until you’re comfortable singing your song and maintaining your focus on your task.

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