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Singing better after a few drinks!?

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JoeyJ
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Here's my problem - I believe nerves and anxiety are causing my voice to dry up. Everything is fine when I practice, but at a gig I have trouble hitting higher notes and my voice cracks. All the while I'm drinking water and warming up in the car, so it must be nerves.

So last weekend I suffered through the first set. Before the second, I had a beer and a double of Sambuca (I was pissed and frustrated). I sang better and had no problems.

Is anyone in the same situation and how do you deal with it? Everyone says the alcohol is no good for the chords, but it actually helped me. Are there other substances to help here (legal of course!)

Thanks

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If I drink just plain water I have the same problem. I try to drink throat coat tea when I practice. At band rehearsal, I actually find that white russians work well for me, even though they are full of no no's (Cold, alcohol, dairy) I don't sing any higher, but I can sing longer.

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Alcohol relaxes muscles, decreases social anxiety, and kills pain. It also silences some of the self-critical/self-judgment stuff that contributes to muscle tension in the first place. So in the moment, it would seem like a reasonable vocal lubricant.

Longer-term effects are not so good -- on brain, body, life, as well as voice.

Most immediate vocal risk is of feeling so relaxed & confident that you push voice too far, do damage before you know it, either from a one-time yell or gradually over time. With the right training you could learn to stay relaxed without the alcohol. Its one of many lifestyle topics I cover in my new book, Everyday Voice Care, www.tinyurl.com/voice-care

But hey, to each his/her own.

cheers -

Joanna

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Good answer Joanna. I hate to sound like a button-up'd stiff, but really? Actually I would be more concerned about the ice in the drink then anything else, provided that your not completely basted. One thing is for sure, as Joanna put it, you definitely think your better then you are when your drinking and that makes you the fool that everyone is laughing at, not laughing with.

Hope this helps.

r

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What Robert said. :cool:

That being said, yes, a drink or two can ease the symptoms of anxiety, at least momentarily. But it is far better to address the cause of anxiety than to treat its symptom.

Get too toasted, and you think you are better than you actually are. Also, alcohol has two effects. Relaxation and systemic dehydration. As you drink, the alcohol replaces the water in your blood. Alcohol dries things out, period. But long before that can happen through your metabolism, the muscles get too lax and the nerves are slow in firing and the voice goes from lack of coordination and proper muscle tension before systemic dehydration can take effect. Trust me, I have heard the difference between singing drunk and sober. When I say drunk, I don't mean one beer. Or even a double shot of Sambuca. I mean 4 scotches, neat, with a soda chaser.

There's nothing wrong with having a drink or two. But the anxiety is because you are focused on yourself. It will lessen and go away when you learn to focus on the audience, instead of yourself.

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  • 1 month later...

Remember the more you drink the better you sound... to yourself. Eddie Van Halen used to say when he was drinking he'd get off the stage and think he nailed it, then listen back to the tapes and cringe at all the clams. And when he was sober he said he'd get off stage remembering every little fault but when he listened back to the tapes it sounded the best he ever played. hmm. If you were a figure skater in the olympics would you have a shot before going out on the ice to "calm your nerves" and think you would have a better chance of winning the gold? Singing is just as much a skill of coordination, artistry, and body. Alcohol slows your reaction, coordination, musculature, etc. all the things that you practice hours on end to develop.

If you're nervous, well the more you sing live the easier it gets. And the better your skill level and the more you know your skill will take care of you under any circumstance the less nervous you will be. When I wasn't as good Id worry, will I get that high note, will it sound good, etc. Now I know the voice will just be there and its really just a matter of will my head be there to give the most emotional and connected performance. I never have to think, when I open my mouth what will come out. Solid technique and experience = confidence. Thing is, yea at home you can nail something but the question of truly having something in your pocket vocally is not just when you can do it under the best of circumstances but under the worst. Jumping around stage, bad monitors, drunks trying to grab your mic. It starts with working it out at home but then if you are not nailing it out, record it, listen back and figure out or have your teacher tell you what you did differently. The nervousness might have caused it but you specifically did something technically differently to not get it. You'll find when you're nervous certain weak links in your technique creep in. But most common is that when nervous many take shallow breaths. Whatever you find it to be, work on it, shore it up so that aspect of your technique stays solid even if your standing on your head, having tomatoes hurled at your face. hehe. The goal is to have great technique be automatic, where your body just does it to the point where you almost can't do it wrong. My teacher would often use various strategies to see if we could maintain focus and technique under adverse circumstances, and try to get us off our game to see if we Really had it. So very little can throw me off now and if it does I get right back on technique within a word or 2 and no worse for the wear. For me the issue isn't as much nervous as it being tired. Its important to know thyself. And when I'm just physically tired from singing 3 hours in the sun then doin a second gig till 3 am, you will inevitably be tired and things will be physically harder, know what is the thing that goes first when you are tired, nervous, distracted, etc. and be wary of not letting that slide. I know if I'm super tired if I just make sure I take solid open breaths everything still works. If I don't then everything starts feeling less easy. Again you are an athlete, so where you are at physically and mentally will affect how you perform, on the court, the field, or the stage. Act accordingly.

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  • 4 months later...

I can totally appreciate what you are saying but in a bar band situation everyone is so wasted they don't notice much detail. I have a jagerbomb or too to get the juices flowing but that's an old habit that may never die. I think there is a big difference between a drink or two and getting hammered. I usually alternate beer and water through the gig and water only on breaks. This is a huge difference from a year ago where I would be half in the bag before we started then be fully wasted by the end. It's a long process getting weaned off the liquid courage.

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Not a drinker or pro singer, so what do I know?

I'm with onprcntr-- moderate drinking may help.

Excessive drinking causes are very complicated, and its singing problems are above described. Moderate drinking--it's unclear to my thoughts what happens.

The evidence for moderate drinking and singing partly comes from Plato-- in his describing what is happiness. In its basic form, as described in the Republic happiness consists of hunting in the daytime, and at nights some drinking and singing to the gods. In the Symposium, excessive drinking is described, which turns into madness. But, apparently, Plato says moderate drinking and singing can go together. Who am I to argue?

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Not a drinker or pro singer, so what do I know?

The evidence for moderate drinking and singing partly comes from Plato-- in his describing what is happiness. In its basic form, as described in the Republic happiness consists of hunting in the daytime, and at nights some drinking and singing to the gods. In the Symposium, excessive drinking is described, which turns into madness. But, apparently, Plato says moderate drinking and singing can go together. Who am I to argue?

So, Plato was a singer?

And what kind of singing were these good old boys engaging in? "99 bottles of beer on the wall"?

And how does Plato's views on drinking apply to what we modernly know of the human body's metabolism?

I am not a tee-totaler. And there may be some people who still do okay after a drink. I also think it depends on the part of the range one is singing in. Then, again, what do I know? I am singer and not a philosopher.

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Wall Street Journal 3-10-12 "How to Be Creative" article gives another illustration of the benefits of drinking. Alcohol was shown actually to help creativity, as shown by certain types of tests. The experimenters attributed this as due to not paying attention. Likewise, singer may feel less inhibition, may not be trying as hard, lots of reasons that alcohol could be improving singing skills. Soberly consciously trying too hard may produce a lesser capable sound than the more-released-with-alcohol subconscious is capable of producing. Moderate drinking may actually help some singers.

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I stand corrected. I did not realize that I should be looking to the Wall Street Journal for tips on singing. I learn something new everyday.

I guess drinking is better than building technique to the point of total confidence and learning to change one's mind about oneself. Courage is just a shot way.

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The idea behind excellence in most personal skills is to tie the subconscious and conscious so that they're working in harmony. Harmony-- this is actually the core of Platonic idea-- the just man is one in which all parts are working in harmony. Harmony-- that may also have been in Pythagoras (sp) (origins of harmony in music) idea. Harmony--that's a Zen idea as well.

To consciously learn singing is partial. The question remains how to bring the subconscious into enhancing the conscious. How this is accomplished whether described in WSJ or Plato or Zen or here is somewhat irrelevant. They all tie in. We all have a human body and soul, and the multiple sources are all presenting a view on same.

Additionally, the initial question asked is whether drinking could have enhanced singing or not-- the answer can definitely come from any number of sources, and as long as my answer sources pertain to how the subconscious may affect singing, these are relevant to the question.

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The idea behind excellence in most personal skills is to tie the subconscious and conscious so that they're working in harmony.

Additionally, the initial question asked is whether drinking could have enhanced singing or not-- the answer can definitely come from any number of sources, and as long as my answer sources pertain to how the subconscious may affect singing, these are relevant to the question.

Then you would need to prove both points to maintain being relevant. That is, you state, and no one else does, tha as long as the subconscious theories remain relevant to "excellence" in singing, then your personal philosophical positions remain relevant to the question of whether drinking enhances singing.

You have yet to prove the points that you say make your observations relevant.

And perhaps it is just my viewpoint. There is excellence in the voice, drinking or not. Drinking does not aid the voice or the use of it. I have recorded while sober. I have recorded after a few beers. I have recorded after 4 scotches, neat. There is a difference in each one. And my confidence had nothing to do with it. Because I am already confident while sober. But the quality of singing is different in each because of the mechanical effects of the drinking. The first to go is the coordination for fine singing. And, in addition to the lost of fine control is the loss of fine tension to produce a clear tone. That is, the tone gets "muddy," for lack of a better description. Last thing to happen, if the drinking is going on long enough is systemic dehydration, causing the folds to not produce enough mucus to protect themselves. All the while, the singer is "relaxed" enough to sing anything they want.

But my points do not discount the performance of someone one who does have a drink and then sings well. The secret about Rob Halford from people who have toured with him is that he often enjoys a beer and a cigarette before going on stage. So, he breaks the rules. Is that justification to do so? No.

Another answer for the original post is if that person is seeking justification for having a drink before performing? I will not grant that justification. If it works for them, fine. If it doesn't, on their own head be it. For we have adequately covered the dangers of drinking before singing.

So, the next step, philosophical legerdemain to maintain a debating position, aside, is if the drinking becomes a problem for the singer. You can always prepare the voice. You cannot always count on having a drink nearby to gain insta-confidence. And for some great singers, drinking is a problem. To the point where they had to go through rehab and stop drinking, entirely. They no longer have that philosophical crutch. They have to depend on learning their technique to the point of confidence that they used to get from drinking.

For them, there can be no justification for drinking. And that deserves as much a place in this discussion as your supposition that the subconscious plays a role in singing, and therefore, by your own definition, supports your contention that Plato's drinking offers evidence that drinking has a place in public singing and performance.

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My band and I played last night and for the first time ever I sang in front of people without a drink. I performed a one hour set before I touched my first drink. This is a big deal for me because I relied on that and now I don't need it. I rested my voice for two days drank a shitload of water and just for the hell of it I bought some Clearvoice Throat Spray. It was the best I ever sounded. I never had to push hard it just flowed even when I had to do my screams It was awesome. We have a video of us doing Antisocial by anthrax I would like to share it and get some opinions.

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I likes me some Anthrax and I always admire everything that Scott Ian does, in general, even though he is not the singer. But he is the most erudite and well-spoken of that motley crew.

You should post your cover in the review section.

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>>>"Then you would need to prove both points to maintain being relevant. That is, you state, and no one else does, tha as long as the subconscious theories remain relevant to "excellence" in singing, then your personal philosophical positions remain relevant to the question of whether drinking enhances singing."

The tie in between the harmonious workings of conscious and subconscious to attain excellence is well-known.

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  • 2 months later...

There is lots of evidence that overhydrating/drinking too much water actually interferes with optimal vocal function.

I have also found that my voice responds much better if at least 10 minutes have elapsed since my last beverage. Soda is a no go. Don't drink it at all...if you want to sing well. Warm beverages are of course always better.

Alcohol seems to really help relax the muscles for many people (like myself) who drink a lot of coffee. If you happen to drink a fair amount of coffee, this could be the reason that it seems the alcohol helps you. Coffee does give the respiratory system a boost, but unfortunately it also tenses the muscles too much and the alcohol attenuates this! However, after about 15-20 minutes, the alcohol starts to dry you out, and though you may be more relaxed and feel more confident initially, your voice won't function as well over the course of the set. There may be, however, a "sweet spot" where just the right amount of alcohol will work wonders.

Both coffee and alcohol can dehydrate you, so of course you need to drink more water, but it's not necessary to obsess on it or go overboard.

Eating a banana every couple days will help your muscles to stay as relaxed as they can be (the potassium and magnesium help with this).

Many singers find that sipping on Pineapple Juice during a set can really help the voice. It's worth giving it a try.

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  • 6 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Joey,

To treat with anxiety workout regularly and have a balanced diet plan. Talk with your friends and family members and share your problems with them. Drink more water than routine, have a balanced diet and take multivitamins regularly. Practice giving back and try not to worry. If you smoke or drink avoid them.

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