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Singing: Eyes open or closed?

the lemonade lady 15 Jul 03 - 11:20 AM
Noreen 24 Sep 02 - 06:21 PM
the lemonade lady 24 Sep 02 - 12:25 PM
GUEST,the fantum 23 Sep 02 - 08:35 AM
GUEST,Damsel 19 Sep 02 - 04:57 PM
the lemonade lady 17 Sep 02 - 06:50 AM
Kim C 16 Sep 02 - 06:09 PM
Amos 16 Sep 02 - 03:57 PM
the lemonade lady 16 Sep 02 - 03:55 PM
Allan Dennehy 13 Sep 02 - 08:32 AM
the lemonade lady 12 Sep 02 - 10:10 AM
Trevor 12 Sep 02 - 09:01 AM
Declan 12 Sep 02 - 05:15 AM
GUEST,Ian Darby (uncookied) 11 Sep 02 - 08:07 PM
GUEST 10 Sep 02 - 12:50 PM
Trevor 10 Sep 02 - 04:24 AM
Amos 09 Sep 02 - 01:13 PM
GUEST,John Bull 09 Sep 02 - 11:19 AM
Trevor 05 Sep 02 - 03:03 PM
GUEST,Steven G. 05 Sep 02 - 01:45 PM
GUEST,John Bull 05 Sep 02 - 11:50 AM
McGrath of Harlow 30 Aug 02 - 08:22 PM
the lemonade lady 30 Aug 02 - 03:31 PM
Alice 30 Aug 02 - 12:39 PM
Trevor 30 Aug 02 - 11:43 AM
Trevor 30 Aug 02 - 11:36 AM
Alice 30 Aug 02 - 11:31 AM
Trevor 30 Aug 02 - 11:28 AM
Trevor 30 Aug 02 - 11:26 AM
the lemonade lady 30 Aug 02 - 10:45 AM
Roger the Skiffler 30 Aug 02 - 10:15 AM
Mr Red 29 Aug 02 - 05:42 PM
GUEST 29 Aug 02 - 12:47 PM
GUEST 29 Aug 02 - 12:47 PM
Hecate 29 Aug 02 - 11:45 AM
Alice 29 Aug 02 - 11:41 AM
the lemonade lady 29 Aug 02 - 11:16 AM
Alice 28 Aug 02 - 09:35 PM
Bullfrog Jones 28 Aug 02 - 06:19 PM
Peg 28 Aug 02 - 11:12 AM
Jim Krause 28 Aug 02 - 11:07 AM
GUEST,eoin o'buadhaigh 28 Aug 02 - 07:42 AM
the lemonade lady 28 Aug 02 - 06:10 AM
Liz the Squeak 28 Aug 02 - 02:27 AM
Peg 27 Aug 02 - 11:30 PM
Mudlark 27 Aug 02 - 05:26 PM
Trevor 27 Aug 02 - 11:45 AM
Catherine Jayne 27 Aug 02 - 10:06 AM
Trevor 27 Aug 02 - 08:21 AM
Alice 26 Aug 02 - 09:02 PM
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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 15 Jul 03 - 11:20 AM

#>8-)


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: Noreen
Date: 24 Sep 02 - 06:21 PM

Continued at: BS: Eyes Open or Closed? Again! (click here)


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 24 Sep 02 - 12:25 PM

I wanna hear more from you Mr/Ms Fantum, you be talking my language!

And as you are the 100th entry - you get a free lemonade next summer!!

Sal


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: GUEST,the fantum
Date: 23 Sep 02 - 08:35 AM

I always sing eyes open.

I watch the audience. If they look bored you are simply audible wallpaper so get off. If they are really with you then you know it and you can enjoy their pleasure. Trust me it is a transitory moment. Audiences dont seem to get upset with singers with closed eyes but if even one is embarrassed then its one too many. And finally if the audience move towards you its something you really need to know.

By the way a finger in the ear is a technical device to allow the singer to do something clever. I did it once and felt a real folkie. It worked too, I could'nt hear the noise from the rest of the pub.

The Fantum


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: GUEST,Damsel
Date: 19 Sep 02 - 04:57 PM

I like to sing with my eyes open because even when the lights are bright on the stage, I still can't see the audience.


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 17 Sep 02 - 06:50 AM

"When you're sincere, they appreciate it, eyes open or shut. So there." ??

Okay, okay! Keep singing, be happy!

#8-)


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: Kim C
Date: 16 Sep 02 - 06:09 PM

I have very often opened my eyes at the end of a song to find a full room.

I think this is a personal preference, like boxers or briefs. Some people are going to like it, some people aren't, others won't care one way or the other.

My personal opinion, is that a performer should be him/herself. If that involves closing your eyes, fine. The audience can tell when you're sincere and when you're not. When you're sincere, they appreciate it, eyes open or shut. So there.


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: Amos
Date: 16 Sep 02 - 03:57 PM

Oh, it's open-and-shut, all right!

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 16 Sep 02 - 03:55 PM

Thanks everyone I think this has been a real eye opener.


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: Allan Dennehy
Date: 13 Sep 02 - 08:32 AM

Haven't read every posting but here's tuppencehalfpennyworth. Some great singers including Christy Moore often sing with their eyes shut. However if you sing with your eyes shut AND you are not good at communicating with the audience between songs, they will get bored very quickly.


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 12 Sep 02 - 10:10 AM

Now Trevor we know that's not true. I have been making an effort recently to LEARN THE WORDS, as I notice you have too.

When I am in an audience, I like to watch the performer, naturally. When he/she has their eyes closed I feel as though I'm not supposed to be listening and I feel awkward. The performer loses the personal touch and are unconvincing.

"Mammy, how I love ya....!"


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: Trevor
Date: 12 Sep 02 - 09:01 AM

Good one Declan!! Anyway, I've twigged why Mrs Lemon sings with her eyes open - it's 'cos she doesn't know any of the words whatsoever and has to look at the book!!!:)


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: Declan
Date: 12 Sep 02 - 05:15 AM

One advantage to singing your head off is that it will be the last time you'll have to worry about whether you have your eyes open or not !


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: GUEST,Ian Darby (uncookied)
Date: 11 Sep 02 - 08:07 PM

Whatever works for you...

Being shy, I used to sing with my eyes closed all the time and only opened them when I had to play a lead. (I needed to see where my fingers were.)

I got over the 'nerves' thing by looking at something at the back of the room like a clock, beer pump, or Barmaid.

One critical word of advice. No matter how long you've been playing, or how many gigs you've done, you will sometimes see ONE person in the crowd with their arms crossed who is extremely unimpressed with your efforts.

Ignore them. If they were any good in the first place, you'd be sitting in the audience watching THEM.

Sing your head off and enjoy yourself.....


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Sep 02 - 12:50 PM

And oh the chance would be a fine thing #8-(


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: Trevor
Date: 10 Sep 02 - 04:24 AM

....and avoids being caught with your eyes open when he/she opens hers.....


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: Amos
Date: 09 Sep 02 - 01:13 PM

On the other hand, I kiss with my eyes closed, always have. For good reason, too -- it accelerates the transcendental elevation of the soul!!

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: GUEST,John Bull
Date: 09 Sep 02 - 11:19 AM

I'm sorry I didn't know that we were all s'posed to be reading your crib sheet!


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: Trevor
Date: 05 Sep 02 - 03:03 PM

Ho ho. And if you'd had your eyes open you would have seen that the title, in the big black letters at the top of the page, is 'John Ball'. So ner!


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: GUEST,Steven G.
Date: 05 Sep 02 - 01:45 PM

Well, when I started to perform in public for the first time last year, I was told by a fellow musician that it sometimes helps him to close his eyes while he sings. It lets him concentrate on the song he is singing. So it helped me for a while, until I got comfortable singing in public. So I started to open my eyes to see the reaction on the audience I am playing. And it was interesting to see some audience members singing along, and expression on the people faces was priceless. Because they really like the song you'd play, and you had a great time playing that tune.

For me it's what you are comfortable with. Eyes closed or open. Me it is both. Like me not such a season veteran in the music world yet, I work at it, playing in public.

Anyway, that's my .02 cents worth.

Steven


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: GUEST,John Bull
Date: 05 Sep 02 - 11:50 AM

Trev:

Of course it does help if you've got your eyes open when you've got a crip sheet!


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 30 Aug 02 - 08:22 PM

"I'm afraid that if I close my eyes everyone will silently sneak off, and I'll open my eyes at the end of the song to find an empty room." Vin Garbutt says that happened to him one time out in Malaysia or somewhere - they'd all gone off to the bar. Mind you, he very likely made it up for the story.

Closing the eyes in a serious song just seems more natural to me. More respectful even. If I'm playing an instrument I'm more likely to keep the eyes open, but I'll avoid fixing anybody with the eyes, glance around and look over the heads. But for normal singing, and unaccompanied is what I means by normal, I imagine in more likely to have the eyes shut, unless maybe it's a funny one.

Being nervous would be more likely to make me open my eyes.

I suspect there might be a cultural difference here between folkies on both sides of the Atlantic, with Americans maybe more likely to see the closed eyes as being artificial and as opening the singer to the suspicion of being a bit of a poseur; and the same maybe applies to people who prefer to sing unaccompanied. Over in English-speaking Europe eyes closed an unaccompanied seems pretty natural (among the kind of people who listen to or sing folk songs, that is.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 30 Aug 02 - 03:31 PM

Wow. Have I touched a raw nerve or what? What on earth have I done to receive such remarks apart from talk about what I observe. I thought everyone was entitled to their own opinions. I now realise now - I'm not worthy.

Thank you and good night

Sally Mrs Lemon


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: Alice
Date: 30 Aug 02 - 12:39 PM

Dear Lemon, my son Ryan, aka Mando Flynn, aged 15, is an awesome mandolin player, and he usually plays with his eyes closed. Now, you can't see his beautiful denim blue eyes in this photo CLICK HERE, because he is wearing cool shades. You can, however, click on the audio file and hear him playing mandolin with his eyes closed. I bet you wouldn't kick him out of your parlor for closing his eyes.


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: Trevor
Date: 30 Aug 02 - 11:43 AM

Go for it Alice! Mind you, if you knew Mrs Lemon you would know that it usually dawns on her when she is talking mallarkey but she has usually painted herself into a corner by then!!! (BG!!)


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: Trevor
Date: 30 Aug 02 - 11:36 AM

Oh oh, I can feel an advert for lemonade coming up!!


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: Alice
Date: 30 Aug 02 - 11:31 AM

Mrs. Lemon, it seems that you hold a disdainful, sour attitude toward folk music. It's a wonder you would even go to a folk festival. Sure, some people may struggle to stay on pitch or not have vocal training. That's the nature of music that is made by and for nonprofessional folk.


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: Trevor
Date: 30 Aug 02 - 11:28 AM

And anyway Mrs L, you don't need to stick your finger in your ear 'cos you sing louder than the rest of us put together! Zzzzzzzzzzz


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: Trevor
Date: 30 Aug 02 - 11:26 AM

I keep telling you Mrs L, they haven't got their fingers in their ears, their cupping their hands over their ears. You must have had your eyes shut. Zzzzzzzzzzzz


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 30 Aug 02 - 10:45 AM

Alice: "I never sing with a finger in the ear, and I've never seen anyone do that" All of The Wilsons sing with their fingers in their ears. When I saw them at Bridgnorth Festival I couldn't take them seriously at all. I know why they do it BTW.


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 30 Aug 02 - 10:15 AM

But...if you don't have your eyes open how can you dodge the missiles from the angry audience...or is that just my experience?
RtS (a face made for radio; a voice made for mime)


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: Mr Red
Date: 29 Aug 02 - 05:42 PM

eyes closed
all those eyes looking at me makes me concentrate on them not the words.
I smile as much as is poss to connect with the audience and open the eyes to emphasize a point or punchline.
But if I could ignore the eyes I would sing eyes open.


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Aug 02 - 12:47 PM

I'm afraid that if I close my eyes everyone will silently sneak off, and I'll open my eyes at the end of the song to find an empty room.


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Aug 02 - 12:47 PM

I'm afraid that if I close my eyes everyone will silently sneak off, and I'll open my eyes at the end of the song to find an empty room.


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: Hecate
Date: 29 Aug 02 - 11:45 AM

I sing with my eyes closed cos I'm a coward - but then, you've seen my folk club MrsLemon (If you are who I think you are.....) and know how scary some of them are (but if you don't know who I am, this may make no sense.)

I find eyes shut helps me concentrate better.


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: Alice
Date: 29 Aug 02 - 11:41 AM

The point that many people have made in response to your intial statement is that sometimes closing the eyes while singing or playing an instrument is common and quite appropriate in ANY form of music. It's not just a Folk music quirk. In every type of music, from opera to rock, you will find at times that a singer could close their eyes during a song. Contrary to your 'finger in the ear' label, I never sing with a finger in the ear, and I've never seen anyone do that. You started by saying that closing eyes while singing is "anti-social". I think you should not be surprised to have gotten some very firm responses to the contrary.


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 29 Aug 02 - 11:16 AM

I agree that using you eyes to 'tell the story' would be patronising to an audience. I am beginning to remember why, when I was a teenager, 'Folk' singers made my flesh creep and why, on the whole to the outside world, folk is worth a giggle. 'Finger in the ear' stuff.

I think I'll have to agree to disagree. Nothing's better, only different!


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: Alice
Date: 28 Aug 02 - 09:35 PM

I don't agree with this prejudice against closed eyes! As pointed out earlier, blind performers like Doc Watson and Stevie Wonder are world class, world famous performers, and no one would complain about eye contact. Warning to Andrea Bocelli, don't bother to sing where this prejudice prevails. Closing eyes can be an emotional addition to a singer's performance, for them AND for the audience. To have such a hard and fast rule of keeping eyes open all the time is RIDICULOUS. And I agree, dramatic eye contact in a theatrical way makes me cringe, too.


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: Bullfrog Jones
Date: 28 Aug 02 - 06:19 PM

I'm with the consensus (I think)-- eyes closed for the emotional songs, open for the more light-hearted. I'm not embarassed by watching someone singing eyes-closed, but I have been embarassed by someone 'over-using' their eyes in an arch fashion. It makes me cringe!

BJ


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: Peg
Date: 28 Aug 02 - 11:12 AM

Looking off into the distance is aother variation on closing the eyes in terms of its concentration-keeping for the singer. It is perhaps also less off-putting to those audience members who do not like the eyes closed approach. Perhaps it is a good solution for those who care about it. I do it once in a while, when in front of an audience that is not used to this type of music.


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: Jim Krause
Date: 28 Aug 02 - 11:07 AM

When I attempt to memorize the song, I look off to a vacant corner of the room, eyes open, putting the lyric page or book down just out of sight.

And I'm with you about singers closing their eyes during performance. I try not to do that. With old songs that I have been singing it is easier to do; with brand new material, it is more difficult. But rather than close my eyes, I tend to look somewhere off in the distance, without making direct eye contact with individual members of the audience. This is probably just as bad as closing my eyes. However, if I do this, I can concentrate a little better. The answer of course is more practice.
Jim


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: GUEST,eoin o'buadhaigh
Date: 28 Aug 02 - 07:42 AM

Mra Lemon I think either you are trying to wind up a lot of singers or you don't go to mant singing sessions. Trevor made a good point, do you go to listen or watch the singer? In the beginning I closed my eyes to blank out any distractions in the hall, now I just do it to blank out any distractions in the hall!! The are always a few folk who move about or might wave at you to draw your attention so by closing your eyes 'all' is blanked out and all you have to think about is the song. I remember asking a young singer once why he closed his eyes when singing and his reply was "All the good traditional singers do and they speak the last line of a song as well. That's how you know it's a good traditional song". I at times would speak the last few words of a ballad but I guess that would upset the audience as well. Singer who sing traditional or folk ballads don't need to use their eyes to tell the story. It should 'all' bein the voice. Mrs Lemon next thing you will want the singer to go down on one knee like Al Jolson singing 'Mammy'.

eoin


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 28 Aug 02 - 06:10 AM

Don't you feel that when you are singing a song you are telling a story? You can use your eyes to make the story more convincing.


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 28 Aug 02 - 02:27 AM

I have mine open, otherwise I can't see the words!! The only thing more embarassing than forgetting the words is forgetting the words to one what you wrote!!!

People get a lot of meaning out of the expression in the eyes, they can tell if a song is meant to be funny or not (some totally straight and serious ballads have screamingly funny lines in them, but should not be giggled at.... bad girl, no chocolate.....), just watch Les Barker.... he has the most deliciously mischievious eyes when he does his funny stuff.... totally serious when he isn't. Ah well, it's been a while.....

LTS


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: Peg
Date: 27 Aug 02 - 11:30 PM

I sing a cappella stuff a lot and I almost always keep my eyes closed. I have had a lot of people say to me that although they normally would find that weird or distracting etc. that somehow it was okay when I did it. I guess a lot of it depends on what sort of performer you are. I inhabit and communicate the songs better when I close my eyes. I think using your eyes to make contact is important enough when talking or storytelling or performing comic songs. But it seems quite melodramatic to do so with a sad song.

My two cents.


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: Mudlark
Date: 27 Aug 02 - 05:26 PM

I have to agree with the closed eyes OK faction. Since I sing a lot of old ballads, many of which tell sad stories, though I'm not always aware of it I'm sure I close my eyes a lot...the songs are very moving and I am inside them if I'm to do them right.

I've been to many professional concerts, given by musicians with very easy, accessible delivery, no nerves. But often these musicians sing with their eyes closed, maybe not thru an entire song, but certainly at intense parts. Which seems perfectly natural to me...sometimes if I'm really into it I listen with closed eyes as well. Can't imagine feeling nervous or ignored...if the performer is doing a moving song well I'm being carried along no matter what, and the sharing of that great experience is thru the ears, not the eyes.


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: Trevor
Date: 27 Aug 02 - 11:45 AM

I open my eyes when I forget the words! Funny old world innit. And Mrs Lemon, you distracted me at the gig on Friday night AND at Moor and Coast on Sunday!!!


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: Catherine Jayne
Date: 27 Aug 02 - 10:06 AM

I sing with my eyes open (unless I am trying desperately to remember words) because I was always taught to communicate with the audience. Its personal preference though and what the singer feels comfortable with.

Happy singing

Cat


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: Trevor
Date: 27 Aug 02 - 08:21 AM

Just wanted to say that I didn't feel embarrassed or distracted at the Vin Garbutt gig the other night, and he didn't seem to be nervous - and he had his eyes shut when he was talking half the time.

Robin Laing had his shut some of the time - perhaps he was nervous on occasional lines of his material.

I didn't feel that either of them were being inconsiderate of the audience at any time.

What did distract me was looking to see if their bloody eyes were open or closed!


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Subject: RE: BS: Eyes open or closed?
From: Alice
Date: 26 Aug 02 - 09:02 PM

Not Doc Watson nor Stevie Wonder nor the blind harper Turlough O'Carolan... doubtful that anyone thought there was something wrong with their performance because they didn't make eye contact.


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