Sing with Your Eyes Open

Last night I attended my son’s end of the year middle school choir concert. He’s very lucky. He has inherited his mother’s wonderful singing voice.  His boy’s choir did a wonderful job on the two pieces on which they were featured.  Near the end of the program a young woman did a solo, which is unusual for this type of concert, and was noted as such during the introduction by the choir teacher and conductor/accompanist.   You could tell she was nervous.  Her eyes were clamped shut and there was shakiness to her.  Then she started to sing.  I don’t even remember what the piece was. It was something operatic and if you know anything about me by now, you know I’m a rock and roll guy and opera really isn’t my thing.  But this young woman could sing. Really sing. Like wow. But she was a bit nervous and she was missing some notes and her eyes were clamped shut and it was a very powerful moment. You could see and feel and just witness the incredible power and beauty in her voice fighting her nervousness and anxiety, struggling to get past it.  It was the rock fan in me I guess that made me want to stand up and cheer, “Sing with your eyes open!” and “Go for it!”  But it was a middle school choir concert and I probably would have embarrassed her and my wife and son.  And yet…

How often do we not sing with our eyes open?  How often do we hold back what’s inside us, not follow our bliss, not go for it, not trust that we are competent, intelligent, good enough? Far too often.  This was what I thought of last night as I watched and listened to a young lady I didn’t know, shake off a few notes, and let out an incredible song.    When she finished she opened her eyes to thunderous applause.  If we live with our eyes open, I think we’ll see that so many people are rooting for us, the way I was rooting for that young woman, the way the entire room was rooting for her, long before the song was over.

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4 thoughts on “Sing with Your Eyes Open

  1. Love it, Tony! It’s taken me over 40 years to get over my nerves and let my song be heard. I’m hoping Monica will get over her nerves and share her voice soon. I’m definitely sharing this post with her! Maybe we can get Frea & Zack to sing together this summer?! If not, then their moms for sure! 🙂

  2. As a singer myself, I frequently sing with my eyes shut, but it’s not out of nervousness. It’s so I can concentrate on the song and its meaning to me. But your take on it is also valid, especially for a young singer who is easily distracted by the movements she sees in front of her and afraid that she will goof up.

    My shutting my eyes makes it a private experience for me, rather than something shared, and I hadn’t thought of it that way. Sometimes a song is to be shared, sometimes it’s to be private.

    Lots of meanings here! Thanks for your thoughts, Tony!

  3. You could tell she sings with eyes closed, (had her hand on her diaphragm, was almost imperceptibly counting time with a finger to her side, doing a lot of other singer stuff, etc) but there was a part of me that wanted her to just open her eyes and just OWN that room, because you had a feeling that she would command much bigger audiences somewhere down the road. It was a great performance. Great moment of grace.

  4. It’s that ability to relate to the listeners that makes for a wonderful experience for both the singer and the listener! She sounds like she has much joy in singing to discover.

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