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Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!

the lemonade lady 24 Sep 02 - 12:28 PM
Crane Driver 24 Sep 02 - 05:42 PM
Noreen 24 Sep 02 - 06:20 PM
CraigS 24 Sep 02 - 06:55 PM
GUEST,Boab 25 Sep 02 - 04:54 AM
Schantieman 25 Sep 02 - 01:53 PM
An Croenen 25 Sep 02 - 06:16 PM
An Croenen 25 Sep 02 - 06:16 PM
the lemonade lady 29 Sep 02 - 02:41 PM
RWJ 29 Sep 02 - 02:47 PM
the lemonade lady 14 Oct 02 - 08:19 AM
McGrath of Harlow 14 Oct 02 - 08:31 AM
Kim C 14 Oct 02 - 10:19 AM
GUEST,leeneia 15 Oct 02 - 09:49 AM
Thomas the Rhymer 15 Oct 02 - 10:55 AM
the lemonade lady 04 Nov 02 - 01:33 PM
McGrath of Harlow 04 Nov 02 - 02:17 PM
Crane Driver 04 Nov 02 - 02:29 PM
Deni-C 10 Mar 03 - 08:16 AM
beadie 10 Mar 03 - 03:02 PM
GUEST 15 Jul 03 - 01:18 PM
Ebbie 15 Jul 03 - 04:49 PM
Deckman 15 Jul 03 - 08:19 PM
Kim C 15 Jul 03 - 08:36 PM
Deckman 15 Jul 03 - 08:45 PM
Rapparee 16 Jul 03 - 09:00 AM
GUEST,minkest 16 Jul 03 - 09:20 AM
Deckman 16 Jul 03 - 11:53 PM
GUEST 04 Aug 03 - 02:06 AM
mousethief 04 Aug 03 - 02:24 AM
JennyO 04 Aug 03 - 08:11 AM
the lemonade lady 31 Mar 05 - 06:21 AM
GUEST,MBSLynne 31 Mar 05 - 06:38 AM
the lemonade lady 02 May 06 - 05:43 PM
keberoxu 08 May 16 - 06:27 PM
Andy7 26 May 16 - 06:42 PM
Steve Shaw 26 May 16 - 06:50 PM
meself 27 May 16 - 01:14 AM
vectis 27 May 16 - 06:38 AM
Jim Carroll 27 May 16 - 06:43 AM
Jack Campin 27 May 16 - 10:00 AM
Harmonium Hero 27 May 16 - 10:13 AM
Jim Carroll 27 May 16 - 10:48 AM
Jim Carroll 27 May 16 - 10:50 AM
Ged Fox 27 May 16 - 11:01 AM
meself 27 May 16 - 11:30 AM
meself 27 May 16 - 11:48 AM
Tunesmith 27 May 16 - 12:58 PM
meself 27 May 16 - 02:26 PM
Jim Carroll 27 May 16 - 02:58 PM
GUEST,ST 27 May 16 - 02:58 PM
meself 27 May 16 - 03:11 PM
GUEST,Andiliqueur 27 May 16 - 03:25 PM
Ged Fox 27 May 16 - 06:14 PM
Steve Shaw 27 May 16 - 08:00 PM
meself 27 May 16 - 10:16 PM
Jim Carroll 28 May 16 - 04:20 AM
Steve Shaw 28 May 16 - 05:24 AM
Ged Fox 28 May 16 - 06:10 AM
Jim Carroll 28 May 16 - 06:45 AM
Ged Fox 28 May 16 - 07:04 AM
Jim Carroll 28 May 16 - 07:19 AM
meself 28 May 16 - 10:43 AM
Steve Shaw 28 May 16 - 12:13 PM
Tunesmith 28 May 16 - 12:43 PM
Lonesome EJ 28 May 16 - 02:15 PM
Jack Blandiver 28 May 16 - 06:20 PM
meself 28 May 16 - 08:48 PM
Harmonium Hero 31 May 16 - 06:42 PM
GUEST,andiliqueur 01 Jun 16 - 04:11 AM
GUEST 01 Jun 16 - 04:34 AM
Jim Carroll 01 Jun 16 - 04:39 AM
Johnny J 01 Jun 16 - 05:17 AM
Andy7 01 Jun 16 - 05:40 AM
Harmonium Hero 01 Jun 16 - 09:57 AM
Uncle Tone 06 Sep 16 - 03:54 PM
meself 06 Sep 16 - 04:03 PM
Steve Shaw 06 Sep 16 - 04:56 PM
The Sandman 06 Sep 16 - 05:08 PM
Steve Shaw 06 Sep 16 - 06:31 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 06 Sep 16 - 07:54 PM
Uncle Tone 06 Sep 16 - 09:22 PM
peregrina 07 Sep 16 - 02:51 AM
GUEST,For it is he 07 Sep 16 - 03:27 AM
Will Fly 07 Sep 16 - 03:48 AM
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Subject: Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 24 Sep 02 - 12:28 PM

Well we hit the magic 100 so we go round again. I'm enjoying every bit of this thread.

Do you sing with your eyes open or closed? Why?


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Crane Driver
Date: 24 Sep 02 - 05:42 PM

Closed. I hate to see people suffer.

Andrew


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Noreen
Date: 24 Sep 02 - 06:20 PM

Continued from:
Eyes open or closed?


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: CraigS
Date: 24 Sep 02 - 06:55 PM

I try to sing with my eyes open - but when I sweat, the sweat is acid, and it makes my eyes sting. If I'm nervous, I sweat more. If I'm not playing as I sing, I wipe the sweat out of my eyes as I go along. If I'm playing, I close my eyes because otherwise it hurts. If I've been playing in public frequently I'm less nervous, so I can go four to five songs without shutting my eyes. Two weeks ago I played a two-song floorspot in a club for the first time in three months. Just before I went on someone told me that a man in the audience would give our new band it's first gig if I was good. My eyes were shut before I'd played two lines! (We got the gig)


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: GUEST,Boab
Date: 25 Sep 02 - 04:54 AM

By closing your eyes, you exclude most of what goes on around you, and thereby make mental concentration easier. As an engineering apprentice, one of the first things I learned from the old hands was, in attempting to fit a nut on a fine-pitch thread in an awkward position, to close my eyes and concentrate on the touch sense. It works, time and time again!


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Schantieman
Date: 25 Sep 02 - 01:53 PM

I agree - it does make concentration easier. Many's the time I've been distracted by something going on and nearly (or actually) stopped singing.

On the other hand, it does make communicating with the audience harder (someone must have said this before!). I suppose it depends how well you know the song - and there's only one answer to that!

Steve


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: An Croenen
Date: 25 Sep 02 - 06:16 PM

I try to keep my eyes open because it allows me to communicate/connect with the audience, but when I'm well into an emotional song I will close my eyes or look sideways so that I don't see anybody. i don't go off into my own world unless I'm sure I've got the audience with me. An


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: An Croenen
Date: 25 Sep 02 - 06:16 PM

I try to keep my eyes open because it allows me to communicate/connect with the audience, but when I'm well into an emotional song I will close my eyes or look sideways so that I don't see anybody. i don't go off into my own world unless I'm sure I've got the audience with me. An


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 29 Sep 02 - 02:41 PM

Jaws is another one! Have you noticed any one singing with their jaws clamped shut? It exudes a strangulated sound.


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: RWJ
Date: 29 Sep 02 - 02:47 PM

I try to keep my eues open to stop the audience walking out


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 14 Oct 02 - 08:19 AM

#;-) eye'm still watching, but only with one eye!


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 14 Oct 02 - 08:31 AM

How about closing your eyes while you are listening to a song of a piece of music? I quite often do that.


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Kim C
Date: 14 Oct 02 - 10:19 AM

Bruce Springsteen is notorious for the jaws-clamped-shut thing. It makes too much stress on the neck and face. Ouch.


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 15 Oct 02 - 09:49 AM

I find that if I close my eyes when singing, I hear myself better. As a result, I sing more in tune and keep better control over the tone.

I don't sing to the public, so the question of looking at others doesn't arise. I do recommend practicing with your eyes closed to anyone.


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 15 Oct 02 - 10:55 AM

When I'm at home, I often sing with my eyes closed. But then again, I'm often reading lyrics, and thats even more removed from the present visual moment. If I'm distracted by a beautiful woman, I often like to look at everyone but her... unless she is actually into the music... If we're in love and it's OK... eye contact with her durring the songs is fantastic! In the last year or so, I've been watching the scene a lot more while I'm playing. It is just so much more fun to notice the "where it's at"...


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 04 Nov 02 - 01:33 PM

refresh

((X))


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 Nov 02 - 02:17 PM

I was observing myself at the weekend's Winter Sing in Buntingford, and I found that more often than not I found myself closing my eyes to listen to other singers. It just seems to sound better.

Mind, this kind of thing makes it harder to be sure whether the singers were closing their eyes too...


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Crane Driver
Date: 04 Nov 02 - 02:29 PM

Reminds me of a time a friend was singing a long, bad salad with his eyes shut, and we all crept out. When he finished and looked around, he was alone. Laugh? We nearly started.

Andrew


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Deni-C
Date: 10 Mar 03 - 08:16 AM

You don't just communicate with eye-contact. I sometimes like looking at singers who sing with their eyes closed, because free from any embarrassment caused by my staring at them, I can concentrate on the song and enjoy how much they are getting into their performance. I don't feel shut out. I feel included.


who's going to start a new thread.

'Singing with mouths open or closed.....'

Remember that guy from amen corner who sang with his teeth together. If you can't see their fillings it's not folk....


Deni


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: beadie
Date: 10 Mar 03 - 03:02 PM

If you want the classic image of clenched teeth singing, get a video of an old George Jones performance. The man looks like a frustrated ventriloquist.


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Jul 03 - 01:18 PM


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Ebbie
Date: 15 Jul 03 - 04:49 PM

"Do you sing with your eyes open or closed? Why?"

Yes. Because I've never learned to do anything else with them. :)


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Deckman
Date: 15 Jul 03 - 08:19 PM

Open ... because I like to see myself! Bob


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Kim C
Date: 15 Jul 03 - 08:36 PM

Since we first started this discussion, and so many people said they thought it was rude to sing with eyes closed, I have tried to be more conscious of it. There are still some situations that require me to not look at anything, lest I lose my concentration.


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Deckman
Date: 15 Jul 03 - 08:45 PM

Kim C ... are we still talking about singing? Bob (hee hee)


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Rapparee
Date: 16 Jul 03 - 09:00 AM

Open. Definitely wide open. How else can you dodge what the audience is throwing?


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: GUEST,minkest
Date: 16 Jul 03 - 09:20 AM

Even if my eyes are open, very often I'll not register anything visually until I finish the song - then its always a weird shock as my senses come back online. Occasionally I'll see very darkly, but its almost like 2d - mostly I'm not aware of anything but the act of singing.
I am not whether its chicken or egg, but when I'm singing less completely then I hear and see more of the outside world (or vice versa).


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Deckman
Date: 16 Jul 03 - 11:53 PM


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Aug 03 - 02:06 AM

Isn't THIS a music thread stuck below the line? Where are the clones?


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: mousethief
Date: 04 Aug 03 - 02:24 AM

I thought it must be about kissing.

Alex


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: JennyO
Date: 04 Aug 03 - 08:11 AM

.....send in the clones,
there aught to be clones.........


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 31 Mar 05 - 06:21 AM

Any new ideas on this subject?

Sal


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: GUEST,MBSLynne
Date: 31 Mar 05 - 06:38 AM

Only just seen this thread for the first time. I usually sing with my eyes open, because I like to see audience reaction, especially when I'm singing funny songs. You couldn't really sing a music hall type song with your eyes shut! However, when I sang the four-part song at Miskin at the weekend, I found it was easier with my eyes shut, partly because I could then concentrate better on my part, and partly because it increased the sensation of being part of a group and blending our voices together. Having discovered this, I may try closing my eyes when I sing a serious song occasionally and see how that feels.

I've only just started playing my recorder in public and I've found that I am far less nervous and make less mistakes if I close my eyes to play.

Love Lynne


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 02 May 06 - 05:43 PM

Here I am again...Any new ideas on this subject?

Sal


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: keberoxu
Date: 08 May 16 - 06:27 PM

Not for me to decide where this thread belongs in relation to The Line. I came here from the earlier thread that started the discussion. [Yes, it should have been in the music section. -Joe Offer-]

Yes, this question, regarding singing in public, in concert, with the audience directly before you, does polarize people. My own experience comes out of recitals of classical music: those I have attended myself; and the legendary singers I am too young to have seen, but whom people recall seeing. There are vivid opinions both ways.

I recognize the sentiments and the choices of words, not at the OP of this newer thread, but in the OP of the earlier thread (August 22, 2002).   It is like the echo of a conversation that I recall from many years earlier: I was a young student, the speaker was a retired classical singer, and he was speaking of the late Marian Anderson.

Marian Anderson was on the concert/recital stage for years and years, both when her voice was in its prime, and, sadly, long after her voice was too aged to sound as it had once done. And Ms. Anderson was well-known for shutting her eyes when she poured that deep great voice into any given song, be it the German Lied or an African-American spiritual -- she sang both with equal authority.

The older singer of whom I spoke, had spent much of his career in opera and in the theater, with some distinction, he was a very worldly, sophisticated person. Eyes Open was his default position. And he sounded as frustrated as Mrs. Lemon, if not more so, when he spoke of looking at Ms. Anderson with her eyes shut and singing away: "She cut herself off from her audience!" he protested, and passionately too, I can still hear his vehemence.

Ms. Anderson was venerated, adored, by many -- ever see that television interview with Odetta (Dick Cavett), when she described how she first walked up to Ms. Anderson in order to say something about how much she meant to her, and she -- Odetta the Great -- dissolved into tears on the spot? So I can just imagine all those people in the audience who would respond indignantly and vehemently that Ms. Anderson could do no possible wrong. As she was well before my time, I never experienced anything but the documents/recordings she left behind.

But I prefer not to generalize with singers, for singing is such a particularly intimate engagement of one's individual character, and what works for one singer will be thoroughly inappropriate for another singer. From what I can observe of Marian Anderson, when she closed her eyes and sang, she did what was most natural and characteristic for her, regardless of the expectations of the public.   She certainly had people coming out in their droves to attend her performances, regardless.


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Subject: Please Open Your Eyes!
From: Andy7
Date: 26 May 16 - 06:42 PM

A plea to all folk singers: please open your eyes, when you're singing to an audience!

I see very many singers - including amazingly good singers! - go through a whole song with closed eyelids.

Yes, I can totally appreciate that you're 'in the zone', and feeling very deeply the song that you're performing.

But your audience - whether a packed auditorium or a handful of fellow members at a folk club - would love to see your eyes, and have that personal connection with you as you sing!


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Subject: RE: Please Open Your Eyes!
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 26 May 16 - 06:50 PM

And I'd add people who play instruments too. For years I thought I could play only with my eyes tight shut. Someone told me off so I made the effort, and I never looked back. I was more relaxed, more in touch with the audience as well as the other chaps in the session - and I'll swear that I played better!


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: meself
Date: 27 May 16 - 01:14 AM

There's something wrong with anyone who thinks there's something wrong with someone closing their eyes when they're singing or playing an instrument. If you don't like it, ask for your money back.


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: vectis
Date: 27 May 16 - 06:38 AM

I have noticed that singers that perform to large audiences and are used to being unable to see them are more prone to singing with their eyes closed. Folk club performers destroy the intimacy of their performance when they close their eyes and I, personally, find it rude.


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 May 16 - 06:43 AM

It was suggested to me that a useful technique was to sing with your eyes open, but pick a spot slightly above the heads of the audience so that looking directly at them doesn't become a distraction to the song - they are not looking at a 'closed' face - you are looking at the song.
Eye contact is fine in some types of song, but, in my opinion, never necessary unless you have no confidence in the song working (a sort of, "nudge, nudge - know what I mean")
We once asked Walter Pardon where he looked while he was singing - he replied; "At the microphone, if there is one - if there' isn't, down my nose"
He compared singing to reading a book _ "You've got to have imagination; there's no pont of singing a song if you can't see it".
He was a prodigious reader and had read all of Dickens and Hardy at least half a dozen times and could tell chunks from them all as detailed stories.
He once said, "it's a pity you can't read with your eyes closed" much easier to get into it".
Of all the singers we met, Walter was the most insistent that you had to become involved in the songs yourself to make them work.
Not sure that is possible if you are trying to catch the attention of a sea of faces.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Jack Campin
Date: 27 May 16 - 10:00 AM

your audience - whether a packed auditorium or a handful of fellow members at a folk club - would love to see your eyes, and have that personal connection with you as you sing!

You get an even better personal connection if you sing with your flies open. Especially with a really attractive audience.


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 27 May 16 - 10:13 AM

As one of the guilty parties, I should throw in my tuppence worth, I suppose. If I'm singing a ballad, I'll probably have my eyes closed; if it's something lighter, or a chorus song, then I sing with my eyes open. It's all very well talking about communicating with the audience, but I've always been a nervous performer (although less so if I'm out singing regularly, which just isn't happening at the moment), and I often have to close my eyes, even in a song where I normally would have them open, because I'm struggling to concentrate. Which is more important - seeing my eyes or hearing the right words?
Someone above commented on audiences having their eyes closed, and I have often noticed this when I'm singing - and no, they haven't fallen asleep! There's no intention of rudeness on my part. I'm just trying to perform the song as well as I can. It's not about me; it's about the song, and it's the song that should be communicating with the audience. This ain't showbiz.
John Kelly.


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 May 16 - 10:48 AM

"You get an even better personal connection if you sing with your flies open. Especially with a really attractive audience."
I knowwwwwww!!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 May 16 - 10:50 AM

I'm sure you all know the policy of Burn's Crochalan Fencibles:
"Sing a sang, tell a story or put your prick on the table".
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Ged Fox
Date: 27 May 16 - 11:01 AM

"it's about the song, and it's the song that should be communicating with the audience. This ain't showbiz."

If that were true, we might as well stay at home and listen to CDs


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: meself
Date: 27 May 16 - 11:30 AM

A singer should not only keep his eyes open, he should also roll them, widen and narrow them, squint, and, furthermore, should mug, pull faces, leer, ogle, grimace, and otherwise put his face through a series of contortions as a source of ongoing amusement - if a singer fails to do this, I will feel personally insulted. Nor will I be entirely pleased if a singer refrains from gamboling, capering, and prancing. It should be noted as well that the occasional somersault or cartwheel is never out of order, but, of course, these acrobatics are not to be overdone - it is all about the song and the singing, after all.

And don't get me started on the perversity of those instrumentalists who refuse to maintain the grin of a deranged chimpanzee while they play ... how dare they inflict such painful humiliation on their listeners!!


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: meself
Date: 27 May 16 - 11:48 AM

Don't worry - pretty soon we'll be able to just lie in our pods with electrodes or something stuck in our brains and lead completely satisfying lives without ever having to interact with another human being. And we can have all the entertainment we want on our own terms! Can't come soon enough ....


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Tunesmith
Date: 27 May 16 - 12:58 PM

I love the way Willie Nelson has his eyes open.
His eyes seem to wander over the audience but I have the feeling that he's lost in the song and doesn't really look at anything in particular.


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: meself
Date: 27 May 16 - 02:26 PM

I find it rude when I have the feeling that a singer is lost in the song and isn't really looking at anything in particular.


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 May 16 - 02:58 PM

"I find it rude when I have the feeling that a singer is lost in the song "
I feel cheated when they aren't.
He or she's there to address the song, not you.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: GUEST,ST
Date: 27 May 16 - 02:58 PM

If a singer can't make me get lost in the song then I couldn't care less whether they have their eyes open or not - I'm interested in the song not the singer. To some extent, if the singer's too busy trying to make eye contact or please the audience by "acting" then they are, perhaps, not paying enough respect to the song.


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: meself
Date: 27 May 16 - 03:11 PM

Jim: Please flick on the sarcasm meter please.


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: GUEST,Andiliqueur
Date: 27 May 16 - 03:25 PM

If I'm standing when I sing I can focus on a point above the audience and sing with my eyes open. If it's a new song then I may have to close my eyes to concentrate on the words. However when in my usual position (seated) at a singaround my problem is that old chestnut the 'page turners' and fidgiters who are only waiting for their own turn and very distracting. Then I have to close my eyes in order to be lost in my song.I would like to keep them open but have no choice but to close them.,


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Ged Fox
Date: 27 May 16 - 06:14 PM

When I sing in the bath or the car I am happy to sing with my eyes shut, because there is no audience and the song is there to be lost in. However, when there is an audience, they are participants in the song and, to me, of considerable importance. It is not fair to them to get lost in the song. One reason for singing in front of an audience is to entertain or edify that audience, not just to give the song an airing, (no pun intended.) I, therefore, sing with my eyes open. Sometimes the demands of the words, music, performance and audience do overwhelm my abilities, but that is at least a good antidote to hubris.
Of course, I accept that people come to folk clubs etc. from a variety of traditions. My preference is almost certainly conditioned by the church choir, camp fire, communal singing setting, where the singing is always and only in the context of the participants. The sharing is more important than the song. In other traditions that is not necessarily the case.


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 27 May 16 - 08:00 PM

Well Mrs Steve and I went to folk clubs for years in the 90s (more recently, sessions with a few songs) and we witnessed lots of eyes-tight-shut singers. She was making her way up to bed just now, and I brought up the issue. I asked her if she thought eyes shut equalled rudeness. She said she hadn't seen it as rudeness particularly, but considered that the culprits were somewhat up their own arses. She does have a way with words, does Mrs Steve...

I do think that when you're putting a song or a tune out there, you're putting it out there. The recipients do have a stake, entirely voluntarily, of course. You don't owe them anything, but they're not just experiencing a song, as on a CD, they're experiencing you and your delivery in its entirety. That includes those vital aspects of your demeanour that facilitate communication. You can be as arrogant as you like about your right to shut your eyes, but you can't blame the recipients if they see that as a barrier. We do communicate with each other with our eyes open, generally. I well remember my mum standing there with her arms folded, eyes shut, head shaking, steadfastly refusing my request for an ice cream/play out for a bit longer/stay up late. The eyes shut were part of the big final NO. Conditioning, innit...


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: meself
Date: 27 May 16 - 10:16 PM

My mom didn't close her eyes in those situations - in fact, she glared right at me. I suppose that's why I feel so disconcerted when someone sings with their eyes open.


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 May 16 - 04:20 AM

"Jim: Please flick on the sarcasm meter please."
Will do - apologies - usually quite good at picking it up as I'm prone to it's use myself.
I think the basic question is, 'What do you want to see when you listen to a song'.
From the point of view of both the audience and the singer, the answer to me appears simple - The song.
At least two of the older singers we recorded have described the act of singing as "like sitting in the cinema' (hopefully without the smell of that **** popcorn).
Perhaps it might be asked, "should the audience listen with eyes open or closed?"
I find myself listening to songs - particularly ballads - with closed eyes, though I have been told by several singers that they thought I'd fallen asleep.
Walter (again), provided extensive visual descriptions of his songs; the physical appearance of his characters, their dress, the surroundings......
He once made the fascinating comment about his long version of 'Van Dieman's Land', "That's a long old song, but it was a long old journey" - for me, a perfect example of a singer relating to his song.
We don't tell singers of other genres of songs how they should behave in front of an audience - why should we tell singers of folk songs - assuming that's what we are talking about (never sure nowadays).
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 28 May 16 - 05:24 AM

I don't think it's a matter of telling, Jim. We're just discussing a range of behaviours and a range of recipient reactions.


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Ged Fox
Date: 28 May 16 - 06:10 AM

"He once made the fascinating comment about his long version of 'Van Dieman's Land', "That's a long old song, but it was a long old journey" - for me, a perfect example of a singer relating to his song."

Depending on the singer and the context that might be a perfect example of inconsiderate self-indulgence. If it's a Walter concert, then he can be expected to sing as he sees fit, but at a singaround ..?


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 May 16 - 06:45 AM

"but at a singaround ..?"
Don't understand a word of that - whence the difference?
Surely not "the song is too long"???
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Ged Fox
Date: 28 May 16 - 07:04 AM

Put thus bluntly, yes.
Time is limited at a singaround and "everyone" wants a go. Mere courtesy should encourage most singers most of the time to select songs that do not take up more than their fair share of the time available. Some singers can sustain a long song without over-straining their welcome, but each individual privately considers himself to be the best performer present and entitled to an equal amount of floor time.


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 May 16 - 07:19 AM

Then we have to abandon may of our best folk songs - folk revival R.I.P.
Rhetorical anyway, Walter seldom, if ever sang in singarounds, but
I really don't know how some English folkies would survive in Ireland with its reperoire of long Seán Nós songs and it's enviable reperoire of ballads, newly emerging on the scene after a long absence.
it's good to have confirmation of something I have suspected for a long time.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: meself
Date: 28 May 16 - 10:43 AM

I find it depressing that appreciation of song and singing has sunk so low that the question of whether someone sings eyes open or shut could even be considered an issue. It brings to mind the New York critics rebuking Heifetz for not smiling at the audience while he was performing ....


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 28 May 16 - 12:13 PM

It's a valid discussion point with no right or wrong answer. As for Heifetz, well he was not, unlike a singer, expressing words, emotion via his human voice, wot comes out of his mouth, wot is three inches below his eyes. He's doing it with his fiddle. The comparison doesn't stand up.


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Tunesmith
Date: 28 May 16 - 12:43 PM

I mentioned Willie Nelson earlier. Here's Willie...with his eyes open!

Willie - Eyes Wide Open.


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 28 May 16 - 02:15 PM

Since I occasionally sing in public, I try to remind myself to keep eyes open and in contact with the audience. It feels natural when singing a peppy or raucous song and you have a smile on your face. The opposite seems to happen on a slow moody one. Sometimes I will have my eyes closed on one of these, remind myself to open them, and actually have one pair of eyelids almost locked, which must be an indication of how intensely I was trying to emote in the song. Anyway, it has to look fairly weird to the audience.


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 28 May 16 - 06:20 PM

When I sing in .... the car I am happy to sing with my eyes shut,

Stationary I trust??


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: meself
Date: 28 May 16 - 08:48 PM

If only, if only ... how much better they could have been:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYJO5fJgNSQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYpgsPB-Bkw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bn5TNqjuHiU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vvb7GpCZew

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkBciad6s_s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2W8KHz5Gbvk - he starts out fine, but at 2:55 .....

And of course: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfLvusKNU7U


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 31 May 16 - 06:42 PM

I try to give the best performance I can of the song, which means concentrating on what I'm doing. I am somewhat surprised and alarmed that some people in the folk world apparently judge my performance by whether or not I'm looking at them. I often see audience members with their eyes shut. Does this mean that they aren't listening properly? Should I be insulted? I'm not; on the contrary.They are concentrating on the song.
I know that, outside of folk music, performers are judged by whether or not they are smiling. Any idiot can smile. Idiots tend to. But it doesn't make them sing/dance/juggle/spin plates/make things disappear/walk tightropes etc any better.
But I see where I'm going wrong now. In future, I should stick to singing short, jolly, middle-of-the-road chorus songs, and smile. Completely revise my repertoire, in fact. Or stay at home. I'm becoming more and more convinced that I have no place in Folk Music.

John Kelly.







.


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: GUEST,andiliqueur
Date: 01 Jun 16 - 04:11 AM

Thanks Harmonium Hero. You have voiced my feelings far better than I could. I can't do 'funny'and find it very difficult to keep my eyes open when singing but I think (hope) I can still still entertain an audience. Why are we meant to feel so guilty and wrong about the way we choose to perform?


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Jun 16 - 04:34 AM

I'd be much happier if a lot of singers kept their mouths closed...especially many of the Singer/Songwriter variety.   ;-))


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Jun 16 - 04:39 AM

H.H.
Wholeheartedly agree with everything you have to say, but would qualify one point
"Any idiot can smile. Idiots tend to"
Smiling to please is, I agree, a pointless exercise - totally meaningless, but the "lath-shaped mouth" was a device very popular with Bert Lloyd, whose somewhat vacuous grin always disturbed me until I realised he deliberately used it to produce a hard tone which he otherwise found difficult.
I've used it myself on numerous occasions, extremely useful, but I have always been aware of the wrong impression it can give.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Johnny J
Date: 01 Jun 16 - 05:17 AM

"Any idiot can smile. Idiots tend to"

An extreme generalisation which I find very offensive.

While it's inappropriate to smile in many situations and there are times when it is necessary to adopt a serious disposition, there is is no need to be a "soor puss" either.

Many people have a natural "sunny" disposition but that doesn't make them idiots. Of course, I don't agree with those who "force smiles" or pretend either. Why be something you are not?


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Andy7
Date: 01 Jun 16 - 05:40 AM

"In future, I should stick to singing short, jolly, middle-of-the-road chorus songs, and smile. Completely revise my repertoire, in fact. Or stay at home. I'm becoming more and more convinced that I have no place in Folk Music."

A number of people have made negative comments about my high harmony singing. That doesn't make me want to stay at home; it makes me want to inflict more of it on them! ;-)


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 01 Jun 16 - 09:57 AM

Johnny J: I did not intend to imply that anyone who smiles is an idiot. Believe it or not, I smile sometimes, either because something is amusing me, or because I am pleased about something. However, there are a lot of people about who expect entertainers to perform with smiles on their faces, regardless of what it is they are doing, and I find this strange, to say the least. I am a clog dancer, and am mystified at how many people watch our faces, as if they haven't noticed where the sound is coming from. In the first place, primates bare their teeth when making eye contact, as a sign of non-agression. Fear, in other words (no doubt a resident anthropologist or summat will shoot me down in flames for this). But somehow - and I strongly suspect that Hollywood is at the root of this - it has become the expected thing to smile when performing/being photographed/talking etc. It's a showbiz thing. I always thought that folk music was nothing to do with showbiz - the antidote to it, if anything. It should be. Something needs to be.
Getting back to the eye contact thing; am I to take it that, if I were to go blind, people would no longer be able to enjoy my singing?

John Kelly.


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Subject: Shutting Eyes
From: Uncle Tone
Date: 06 Sep 16 - 03:54 PM

I'm sure this subject has probably been done to death here before, but I can't find it in the Mud.

Is it OK to shut one's eyes whilst singing in front of an audience?

I do it all the time. Always did. But that is because I am easily distracted.

I also do it when presenting on radio. Actually I think that probably helps because your listener is also blind to what you do and say.

But does it distract from the performance?

I tend to think it is the audience's eyes on me that count, not my eyes on them.

It also has the benefit that in a song I am less confident about I can sometimes almost read the lyrics off the back of my eyelids!

What do Mudcats think?
I moved this into a previous thread. -Mod


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: meself
Date: 06 Sep 16 - 04:03 PM

If you read through the thread, you will find that the nice, intelligent people agree that it is okay to close your eyes, while the nasty, unintelligent people object.


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 06 Sep 16 - 04:56 PM

Well, the notion of "performance" is an interesting one. Several years ago there were animated discussions on The Session website about whether players (like me) in pub sessions were playing exclusively for each other or whether they were performing for the punters in the bar. Well I always concluded that what we were doing was never a performance (even if we were getting paid with free beer). The people in the pub were not part of the transaction in any real way. If they constituted any kind of "audience" at all, it was of the loosest possible kind. Us musicians were fully committed to each other in that there had been no pre-planning, no rehearsal and no arrangements, so we were always on our mettle. The "audience" were free to chatter, shout, ignore us, talk loudly over us, clink their glasses, walk around, go for a piss or have a fight. If we added to the ambience, and clearly the landlord thought we did, that was a great bonus for all concerned, but that was never the aim. The word symbiosis comes to mind. Is singing any different? Well who are you singing for, or to? You are using the language in singing that everyone uses every day. I'd find it odd if people I encountered in any of my ordinary daily transactions kept their eyes shut when they were talking to me. I wouldn't be offended but I'd regard it as their problem. Just sayin'.


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Sep 16 - 05:08 PM

Steve you are not a singer, so I do not expect you to understand. unfortunately singers are not always able to sing in a concert situation where there are no distractions.
I remember years ago being booked at a festival and the venue was acceptable, however there was an open door in to another room, where there was a television on and a tennis match was very visible from the performing stage, to aid concentration the only answer was to sing with eyes shut, however if the performer interacts with the audience whilst introducing the song, a good performer/ audience relationship can be established, so that closing eyes during the song is not in any way detrimental to performance.


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 06 Sep 16 - 06:31 PM

Well, Dick, I do "sing" in the bath/shower/garden/when pissed. I am an aficionado of opera and choral music. You can't tell me one single fact about Beethoven or Mozart that I don't already know. I love many of the old traditional singers and my musical background, whilst not exactly affording me an intimate understanding of singing technique, hardly leaves me in total ignorance of what singing is about. I find your "you don't get it" attitude to be rather suspicious, actually. I'm going to be having a chat tomorrow with a 77-year-old fellow who wants to be able to play the harmonica in a folk group. I have a feeling that "he doesn't get it," but, instead of pulling rank on him, I'm going to try to get him to "get it." No exclusivity, no closed doors, no mystique.


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 06 Sep 16 - 07:54 PM

Please do, sing with the eyes open.
We need to see the ring 'round your purity."


Sincerely,
Gargoyle

A departed past cousin claimed he could read "racial purity" within the iris of the eye. He claimed that a "black-ring" outside the cornea indictated "Injun" roots. He died young....from the Indian affliction to whiskey, ruhn, and all distilled spirits.


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Uncle Tone
Date: 06 Sep 16 - 09:22 PM

Cyril Tawney used to sing with his eyes open, but he'd be looking at the wall at the back of the room, just above folk's heads.


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: peregrina
Date: 07 Sep 16 - 02:51 AM

I have heard several traditional singers say they need to shut their eyes to see the song.
It's particularly intriguing that they come from different traditions, but say strikingly similar things about their visual experience of the song.

But: why is this even a matter of prescription and judgement?

Let singers do what they need to. Now, singing with mouth shut, that would be another matter.


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: GUEST,For it is he
Date: 07 Sep 16 - 03:27 AM

Generally closed these days. Folk club audiences don't get any prettier as they get older...

Seriously, I have them open when gigging but to preserve my sanity, closed at singarounds. It isn't just because I'm singing and have a bloated opinion of myself, it's when anybody is singing. It really gets my goat when those who can't be bothered to learn songs sit leafing through their books and iPads whilst others are trying to entertain them. It's as if they think we are all there purely to hear their latest flat keyed attempt at a beautiful song about to be massacred.

I have to shut my eyes because looking at people ignoring you and wondering what they might sing next makes you wonder why they bothered coming. Presumably think people will listen attentively when they are on next... I prefer venues where you can't hear them from the bar.


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Subject: RE: Singing with Eyes Open or Closed? Again!
From: Will Fly
Date: 07 Sep 16 - 03:48 AM

I try my best to entertain people when I perform - whether it's at a singaround, or a session or at a paid gig - and I rarely perform anything longer than around 4-5 minutes (unless there's dancing). A legacy from my teenage, rock'n roll years.

So I look at the audience while I'm performing. Not to try and catch their attention or win them over, but to see how it's going - am I engaging their attention... are they bored shitless... should I change the mood/style for the next piece...? It's a reference point for me, and a very useful one.

For most paid gigs, which I usually do as part of a duo, we're performing for at least an hour and usually longer. We have a set list, but not a fixed and rigid one - one to be picked from as the evening progresses. So it's essential to get a feel for how the current song/tune is going, and what should follow next - more of the same or a contrast.

I rarely get stuck for words, luckily, but I can, if necessary, "see" them in my head - with eyes still open!


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