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What do singers drink during a performance?

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Double D
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I have always wondered what I should be drinking during a performance. I have read lots about drinking room temperature water, but that never seems to work for me. A drink or two (bourbon and coke) seems to loosen me up better than anything else. Please give me some advice on this?

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It varies for each individual. Room temperature water is perfectly fine for me, and I imagine from a scientific standpoint you can't go wrong with water, but I've also read articles by voice teachers that have mentioned drinking something like orange juice while on stage.

A lot of people find alcohol helps them, but not me. I think of singing as more of a skill, such as playing guitar, shooting a basketball, playing golf etc. Do you really think you could do any of those things better if you were drunk? I like to be in full control.

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I've done it both ways, sober and 4 bags in (4 scotches, neat, with soda chaser.) There is a difference in the quailty, objectively and subjectively. The sober version was better.

So, Double D, your question is two-fold. The water is for hydration and it is more important how much water you drink hours before the show. The bourbon, that's too ease your stagefright. It is doing nothing for your vocal folds.

So, the way you get over stagefright is to grow up, just a little. It's not always about you, believe it, or not. The audience is not there to see you fail, they are there to hear songs. So, you need to be a fan of the songs, just like they are. Take your attention off the failures you imagine you might have and instead, focus in the meaning and intent of the song and see that the audience gets that, rather than childish worries about whether your hair is combed or whatever. Be a singer, sing the song. That booze can become a crutch, if you are not careful. It can become part of the daily regmen.

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I really appreciate the responses. I must clarify though. Seriously, I have tried to not have a couple of drinks before a show, and I feel a lot tighter. I honestly have no stage fright issues. Actually, I am quite comfortable and confident during a performance.

I have read a lot about this, and I am looking for a "formula" that works for me. If you have a system that you use, please tell me. I know the alcohol isn't good for me, but I haven't found anything that works better? I usually switch to diet coke after a couple of drinks, and that works well.

Please tell me what you other singers do?

How much water do you drink in a given day?

How much do you drink the day of a show?

Is room temperature water the trick?

If not, what else?

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And I probably seemed a little snotty. It's been 10 days since I had a drink. I have quit (for other reasons.)

When I would drink, it was not to get over stage fright, it's because I wanted a drink. As for hydration, I don't drink just water. I usually drink Diet Coke, which I like chilled.

I live in Texas where, most of the year, air conditioning is a matter of survival. So, I am used to the drying effect of cooled air. In fact, I am more effected by the defroster in the car with the heater is on. For it purposefully dries the air to absorb moisture off the windshield.

The water you drink during performance is not as important as the water you drink up to 8 or 10 hours before performance. So, hydration is a daily process, not just at show time. And yes, with water, room temperature is best. To me, water tastes good, whether chilled or room temp. It metabolizes the quickest. With one caution. Drinking only water will flush out too many electrolytes. You can chemically dehydrate yourself by drinking only water. Better to drink the "smart" waters that have electrolytes and minerals in them. Namely, you need some of the heavy metals, like potassium, magnesium, and a few other traces. The lighter minerals, like salt, occur naturally in most foods.

I have never tracked how much fluid I drink in a day. I just always have some beverage going on. Coffee, Soda, water, something. I think, if you are always maintaining an even amount of hydration, you should have no worries. As for something to drink during performance, plain water is just fine. Drink the smart water earlier in the day so that your body has had time to absorb the minerals and metals you are supposed to have.

As for having a few drinks to "loosen up," we have had several discussions and there are several pros who have done just fine having one or two before show time.

And just as many pros who have done fine doing a vocal warm-up to loosen up, without the drinks, as well.

But yeah, just stay hydrated.

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I drink a LOT of water daily, like a minimum of 6 or 7 16oz bottles.

I don't do it consciously, like a "oh I must drink a lot of water for health and singing." I just do.

Hell, when I went to an ENT and had been awake for ~2 hours and had drank about 16oz so far that day the ENT said "you could use some more water, your cords look a bit dehydrated" so I think I just have a higher need of water intake than others.

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  • 1 month later...

I have read a lot of advice on different concoctons. Supposedly the best drink is Rooibos (Red Bush) tea. I have a problem with tannin and hate tea with a passion. I also know that alcohol relaxes muscles and then a bit is a good idea and more is bad. I want to be in control of my voice all through the night and a gig generally lasts 4 hours.

My method is to drink lots of water during the day to stay hydrated and keep my chords wet. When I get to the gig I drink as much of a nice cold beer while I set up as I need. Then while singing I drink my own home made ginger beer that is only slightly colder than air temp. It is made from fresh ginger, lemon juice and rind, sugar and yeast. The ginger and lemon cut any flem that I might develop and the water rehydrates. The yeast makes it fizzy which makes it instantly refreshing. I purposly use less sugar than the recipe calls for.

During breaks I drink beer (usually draught beer) again to relax my chords and prepare for the next set.

I avoid any soda's, wine and hard tack as these all have a negative impact on my voice. Not cery scientific but it works for me and that is what counts.

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  • 1 month later...

I have read a lot of advice on different concoctons. Supposedly the best drink is Rooibos (Red Bush) tea. I have a problem with tannin and hate tea with a passion. I also know that alcohol relaxes muscles and then a bit is a good idea and more is bad. I want to be in control of my voice all through the night and a gig generally lasts 4 hours.

My method is to drink lots of water during the day to stay hydrated and keep my chords wet. When I get to the gig I drink as much of a nice cold beer while I set up as I need. Then while singing I drink my own home made ginger beer that is only slightly colder than air temp. It is made from fresh ginger, lemon juice and rind, sugar and yeast. The ginger and lemon cut any flem that I might develop and the water rehydrates. The yeast makes it fizzy which makes it instantly refreshing. I purposly use less sugar than the recipe calls for.

During breaks I drink beer (usually draught beer) again to relax my chords and prepare for the next set.

I avoid any soda's, wine and hard tack as these all have a negative impact on my voice. Not cery scientific but it works for me and that is what counts.

Sounds good. I do drink sodas, usually Diet Coke. The preservatives keep me looking younger than I am.

:D

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 4 months later...

Hi Double D :) I'm new to posting on this site although have read the forums from time to time. I know most people have their own ideas but here's what works for me. Like others have said, I stay well hydrated during the day. You want to be producing plenty of moisture.

As DonRoos suggested, ginger works wonders as it cleanses your folds. I make a warm (not hot) ginger drink with root ginger however. Just grate some ginger into some freshly boiled water, leave to cool until warm and drink (sweeten if preferred). I find ginger or licorice tea are good for me too. Again, ensure they are not too hot. This is what seems to work, but if they are no good please feel free to say so folks.

I stay away from milk and caffeine on the day of a performance. I don't drink anything gassy (Coke etc). I don't think that's a good idea. I tend to stay away from most citrus drinks also as they can have a drying effect. Definitely no ice as this constricts your equipment (just think what happens if you put it down your trousers :/ Same effect... :o) Alcohol isn't recommended but I do concede to one or two during a performance (but no more). As I'm an English lady in England we have Real Ale, which is served at room temperature an isn't gassy :) I have water alongside this.

So, warm or room temperature are good. Plenty of water. Nothing "claggy" (e. g. milk). No heat. No ice. No gas. Hope some of that works for you :)

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Hi Double D :) I'm new to posting on this site although have read the forums from time to time. I know most people have their own ideas but here's what works for me. Like others have said, I stay well hydrated during the day. You want to be producing plenty of moisture.

As DonRoos suggested, ginger works wonders as it cleanses your folds. I make a warm (not hot) ginger drink with root ginger however. Just grate some ginger into some freshly boiled water, leave to cool until warm and drink (sweeten if preferred). I find ginger or licorice tea are good for me too. Again, ensure they are not too hot. This is what seems to work, but if they are no good please feel free to say so folks.

I stay away from milk and caffeine on the day of a performance. I don't drink anything gassy (Coke etc). I don't think that's a good idea. I tend to stay away from most citrus drinks also as they can have a drying effect. Definitely no ice as this constricts your equipment (just think what happens if you put it down your trousers :/ Same effect... :o) Alcohol isn't recommended but I do concede to one or two during a performance (but no more). As I'm an English lady in England we have Real Ale, which is served at room temperature an isn't gassy :) I have water alongside this.

So, warm or room temperature are good. Plenty of water. Nothing "claggy" (e. g. milk). No heat. No ice. No gas. Hope some of that works for you :)

Good post, anyway. And, if I am not mistaken, english ale has more alcohol content than some american beers. If I remember, english ale is around 15 percent.

As opposed to beer in Texas, where I live, averages 3 to 6 percent. And Oklahoma regulates at a solid 3 percent. It is totally common for people in southern Oklahoma to cross the Red River, get beer, and then go back home.

And I think english pubs sell by the pint, as oppose to 12 oz bottles here. Though one can also get 16 oz cans and bottles.

So, for people from America, if they were to visit England, I would suggest they get only one pint and sip that slowly. It will take you by surprise.

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

I have been performing most nights of the week for nearly four years now(throughout college) as a solo guitarist/singer. I have experimented with many different methods and through much trial and error, I now stick to the following rules religiously :

1) What you drink before you sing is much more important than what you drink while you sing. Every day you have to perform, down an entire bottle of water immediately upon waking up and continuously hydrate yourself until it is time to sing. You are naturally dehydrated when you wake up so it is really important to start hydrating right away. If you walk into a show well hydrated, your voice will be well enough supported for you to make it through without having to worry about it. If you begin your performance dehydrated however, the smallest bit of effort is going to be a huge struggle and you wont be able to catch up with it until you are done performing.

2) Acid reflux has to be avoided. If you are sensitive in this area, you really have to be careful because so many random things can set it off. The most common ways to get acid reflux are eating too much at once, consuming citrus foods or drinks, high-fat foods, and particular kinds of alcohol. I tried using lemon juice in my water after reading some supportive material a while back and it literally destroyed my voice temporarily. Everyone has different triggers with acid reflux so if you know something will stir it up, avoid it. I have even found that getting acid reflux the night before a show can have an impact.

3) I always take a shot of honey whiskey before I start and depending on how I feel I usually take 2 or 3 more over the course of a 3 hour show. Whiskey shots in general clear my throat very well without irritating it and I have heard the same from a number of other singers. Between the shots I like sip on a beer and as long as I start off hydrated, I never any issue with it. Everyone feels differently about drinking during a performance and surely no one ever hurt themselves by avoiding it. When you are singing in front of a big crowd it is really easy to focus on everyone around you rather than your performance and I find that a few shots can really get me into my element without sacrificing coordination.

4) There is a product named "Clear Voice" which is a flavored throat spray that works wonders if you are in need of a quick fix during a gig. It is definitely not a solution but if you need something to get you through those last few songs it can really help.

Honorable mention - Excuse me for straying away from drinks but I have to include pre-show exercise. I went through a phase where I jogged a mile or two before every show and it worked wonders. I wish I could say I still do that every time... :/

Hope this was helpful!

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