Why do singers close their eyes when singing? Scientifically, professional singers close their eyes because it is difficult for the human brain to process two senses simultaneously. Thus, singers shut one sensory down that the brain deem not important for the task at hand—and that includes visual stimuli.
Have you ever wondered why singers close their eyes in the middle of their performance? You are not alone!
Professional singers, when they sing live on stage or even during private rehearsals, often close their eyes when they sing. Be it at the start, in the middle, or at the end of the performance. As to why singers do it, experts revealed that it is by nature unavoidable.
In fact, there are several reasons why singers—and even those who simply sing for fun—do it. Some do it to expressively convey the emotions the song evokes, while some do it to concentrate and fully immerse themselves. Although sometimes, closing one’s eyes when singing could also mean shyness and nervousness.
But do you know that not only when singing do people close their eyes? That’s right. There are other activities too that by nature make us, humans, close our eyes.
Having said that, in this article, you will learn why such a reaction happens. And what exactly are the reasons that even professional singers close their eyes.
Why Do We Close Our Eyes When Experiencing the Best Feeling?
More often than not, it is our eyes that help us express our feelings without saying anything. One of the many ways we convey what we feel through our eyes is by closing it. And it appears that there is science behind the reason why we close our eyes, specifically when we are experiencing an immense amount of emotion.
That being said, to decipher the cause of why we, humans, tend to close our eyes when experiencing deep emotions, the Royal Holloway, University of London conducted a study about tactile sensory experience and vision. And based on their findings, it was revealed that it is difficult for the human brain to process another sense while focusing on a visual stimulus.
As per the two cognitive psychologists Sandra Murphy and Polly Dalton, “tactile awareness depends on the level of perceptual load in a concurrent visual task.”
According to the research, each participant was given a visual task to complete while their sense of tactile sense was evaluated. All participants finished letter-searching tasks with different levels of difficulty. And based on the analysis, it was found that people are less responsive to the tactile sense while their eyes are focusing on something.
Hence, Dalton concluded that the reason we close is that we want to focus on another sense that we deem more important. “Shutting out the visual input leaves more mental resources to focus on other aspects of our experience,” she said.
It is why we close our eyes when we sing—specifically professional singers. We close our eyes when we kiss, dance, and even when we taste a portion of delicious food.
3 Common Reasons Why Singers Close Their Eyes While Performing
There are several reasons why professional singers—and even those who do it for fun and entertainment—tend to close their eyes when they sing. These include their willingness to focus on the activity at hand, immerse themselves in the song, and even help them calm down.
Do the reasons sound odd? Let me expound things further. Below is a not-so-brief explanation to help you understand things better.
1. It helps them to focus.
The number one reason why singers tend to close their eyes while singing is because it helps them to focus on their performance. As mentioned earlier, experts found that the human brain has difficulty processing two senses simultaneously and, at the same, efficiently. And in order to fully optimize a specific physical sense, you need to shut down all other senses.In the case of professional singers, closing their eyes and avoiding visual stimulus optimizes their sense of hearing. It prevents the brain from being swamped with visual imagery, which the brain would process naturally. And as a result, the singer could efficiently use his ears and listen to the music, cues, and other important sounds that would him with his performance. One example is the metronome.
But that is not the only perk singers gain when they focus when they start to close their eyes while singing. Focusing can also help singers immerse themselves in the song which, in return, helps them to express the emotions the song tries to convey.
The opportunity to concentrate on the activity at hand also aid professional singers to remember things—such as when to pause—that are crucial for the performance. Focusing help the singer to zone in, as well as avoid getting distracted.
2. It helps—as well as keeps—them calm down.
Being nervous while on stage may sound unprofessional for someone who makes a living as a singer but there are musicians who still have stage fright despite being exposed in crowds of audiences almost all the time. It is not a usual thing too, but feeling tense is also possible for them, particularly during the first few performances.That said, as a solution, folks who experience it tend to close their eyes as a way to alleviate their anxiety.
According to a neuroscientist from the University of Wisconsin, Dr Chiara Cirelli, closing our eyes essentially tells our body that everything is safe and that it can take a break from thinking.
She said that “while we are awake [our eyes open], all of our neurons are constantly firing, but when we are asleep [close our eyes], the neurons revert to an up-and-down state in which only some are active at a given time.” In fact, many call it “quiet wakefulness.”
All in all, it means that while closing our eyes when singing might not completely put our neurons in silence, it helps to calm our mind and overall reduces stress. It also aids to slow down our heart rate, a very handy technique particularly when you are nervous and already shaking.
Last but not least is it helps the singer to immerse himself in the song. More often than not, singers close their eyes to fully engulf themselves in the performance or song.In essence, it helps them feel deeply the emotions the song or music is trying to convey and, in return, helps them to express it through singing. It is particularly true when the brain has difficulty processing two senses at the same time.
Overall, this allows the singer to provide a quality performance.
Whether you are a professional singer, an aspiring musician, or simply someone who loves to sing for fun and entertainment, closing your eyes is something inevitable. It is especially true when doing it yields various perks to the singer.
Closing the eyes when singing helps singers focus on the music rather than the visual imagery in front of them (the audience). It also helps to calm singers down with stage fright, as well as immerse themselves in the song fully to efficiently express the emotions the song tries to tell.
All in all, closing the eyes while singing is not just a natural response but also a handy technique.
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.