Any singer that has ever had a vocal performance understands the time, effort, and practice that goes into it. Whether that may be a concert, musical theatre show, recording session, or even an open mic.
Learning or writing material, getting all those notes and pitches down, and then making it your own style is no easy feat.
The last thing you want is to ingest a liquid before a performance that derails all the hard work you have put in.
Remember, your voice is a muscle. It is responsive, and if you treat it well, everything will go accordingly. So what should you drink and what should you not drink before a vocal performance?
Table of Contents:
- What You Should Not Drink
- What You Should Drink
Your Vocal Health
Before we get into the drinks you should and should not consume, it is important to understand your vocal health and how particular liquids impact it.
All vocal coaches and instructors would tell you that what you drink before a performance can directly impact your vocal cords, vocal range, and overall ability to sing.
While it may not be long-lasting, certain drinks can irritate your vocal cords which will make singing well nearly impossible. Your vocal cords need to be relaxed and soothed.
Note: Pushing through irritated vocal cords, whether due to a sore throat or improper warm ups (including the liquids you consume), can damage your vocal health. It is imperative that you take care of your voice before singing.
With that said, let's get into what drinks you should avoid before a vocal performance.
What You Should Not Drink
Let's get the negatives out of the way first.
The following are drinks you should strongly consider skipping before a vocal performance.
Go to any professional singing lessons, and this will be one of the first drinks they'll want you to steer clear of.
Milk is part of the dairy family. And while milk is delicious (especially chocolate milk), it clings to your throat and creates extra mucus.
You will consistently feel like clearing your throat during the performance and lack significant flexibility. For some people, milk can cause acid-reflex as well. Definitely not something you'd want to occur during a performance.
The excessive phlegm can give the impression that your voice is cracking as well. For your best interest, you want to stay away from milk and all dairy. That includes excessive cheese and milkshakes, too.
Sure, soft drinks taste great, and it can give you an extra kick, but before a performance, you'll want to stay away.
Soda is carbonated, so it has that bubbly-affect. The problem is it will put a lot of air in your stomach and can lead to burping. Probably not something you'd want to happen on stage.
Also, soda is full of sugar. A little natural sugar honestly is not terrible. However, processed sugar content add phlegm to your throat, similar dairy.
The combination of carbonation and processed sugar is twice the reason to cut out soda. Besides, soda in itself is not a beneficial drink. Cutting it out for vocal performances could lead you to cut it out altogether. And that could be very positive, healthy and for you.
We know that any sort of performance can be a little intimidating. It's not uncommon for a musician to want to "take the edge off" with a drink.
This is a mistake though.
No advantage alcohol can give you will compensate for what it does to your throat. Steer clear of the following:
- Beer: Like soda, beer can give you gas and a bloating feeling. Your diaphragm won't feel relaxed which is essential to proper singing.
- Wine: Not quite as bad as beer, but some brands of wine and severely dry your throat out. While you don't want too much phlegm, a dry throat can cause strain when singing.
- Mixed drinks: The problem with mixed drinks is all the sugar they often add to these drinks. As mentioned above, the increased and processed sugar will add mucus and decrease your flexibility.
Save the drinks for when you celebrate with friends after a successful performance.
Caffeine tends to cause folks to frequently use the restroom and, in turn, dehydrates you. This is why Caffeine is known as a diuretic.
You never want to be dehydrated during a vocal performance. On top of drying you out, caffeine can also constrict your muscles. This will lead to an unnecessary amount of stress on your vocals that could leave a lasting effect for a few days.
Unfortunately, this means no coffee or caffeinated tea before a vocal performance. Coffee can actually be a strong irritant to your throat.
Important note: Tea generally is a fantastic beverage option. There are teas great for vocal performance, however, other than the effects of caffeine in caffeinated teas we already discussed, green tea can seriously dry you out and should be replaced on days of performances. Feel free to drink it any other day of the year though!
A healthy, well-balanced meal an hour or two before a performance will give you the energy you need for the performance. Skipping out on the coffee-boost won't be detrimental.
You really can't catch a break, can you?
The key here is cold water - referring to the temperature
While water is incredibly beneficial in all aspects of life, a liquid that is too cold can cause constriction in your throat muscle which makes flexibility difficult. A relaxed throat is the best way to combat strain and hit all those pitches you need.
What You Should Drink
Alright, we've checked off all the drinks that you should not ingest.
So what is left?
Is plain water the best drink for singers? Absolutely. There really isn't much better you could do for your voice than a glass of water.
Remember, you don't want the water to be ice-cold. However, it doesn't need to necessary be plain warm water either. If you like warm water, that is great, but room temperature water is preferred.
You want the water to lubricate and hydrate your throat, rather than constrict it.
Important note: A cool tip is to add just a little bit of salt to your water and gargle it for about 30 seconds. The salt will actually help moisturize your throat.
Many experts suggest you should begin drinking substantial amounts of water the day before your performance, let alone a few minutes beforehand.
Staying hydrated is a necessity, and nothing will assist you better than plain, natural water. So, make sure to drink plenty of water prior to your performance or recording session.
Tea that does not have caffeine can be quite soothing to your throat muscles. This warm drink will increase your flexibility and allow your muscles to stay relaxed.
The more relaxed your muscles are from hot drinks, the more you'll notice better control of your voice and you'll find it easier to hit higher pitches. Plus, with tea, you'll feel hydrated, but not bloated. Black tea and lemon tea are great options.
As far as tea specifically for singers, a wonderful tea to drink before a vocal performance is throat coat.
You can find throat coat in most convenience stores. Give it a try, and you'll be surprised how wonderful your vocals feel.
Not exactly a "liquid," that is true.
However, small doses of honey in tea or water can be effective to sooth your voice. While fighting vocal strains, honey also is preventative for sore throats.
Naturally, honey has a significant amount of sugar, so you don't want to squeeze half the bottle into your water, but in teaspoons, you can see positive effects.
Exceed Your Own Expectations
Like anything in life, we are given various choices and must accept the consequences of those options. Remember, it is important to warm up, hydrate properly, and even steam before a performance.
If you treat your voice and throat with the same respect you give to training and learning material; you will be golden.
To take your vocals a step further and capitalize on your potential, consider the Atlanta Institute of Music and Media.
AIMM offers two programs that can help advance your singing career. This includes:
- Performance Certificate in Vocals
- Music and Technology Associate Degree: Vocal Concentration
If you are purely interested in your singing voice, performance, and slaying every singing session, then the Performance Certificate is for you. Plus, you can earn your certificate in just a year full-time!
However, if you want to maximize your singing talents and also learn how to record, mix, and master music like your favorite professionals, the Music and Technology Associate Degree is the best option for you.
Turn your singing passion into a successful music career at AIMM.
For more information, don't hesitate to click the link below.