(Will ten drinks make your voice ten times
one drink allows you
to perform better, will ten make you amazing?
(answer at bottom) I offer the question to illustrate how diluted
our thinking can be regarding alcohol and singing. Can alcohol
ruin your voice? Yes. Can alcohol improve your singing? Yes,
if used sparingly. Don't get me wrong, to some people alcohol
is poison and must be avoided. Most of us, though, are not alcoholics.
Still, we tend to divide into two camps -- heavy drinkers or
non-drinkers. This all-or-nothing attitude misses the point
of what makes someone a compelling singer. Excessive drinking
will not make you the next Jim Morrison or Janis Joplin. The
bottle did not make them; it brought them down.
On the other
hand, non-drinkers are not necessarily more productive. I've
been in many situations (studio, rehearsal or stage) where the
tension between four or five very sober musicians squashed any
potential for creativity. A short drink is not the only way
to reduce tension (meditation, fist fights), but sometimes it's
the quickest way to get past the petty stuff and get on with
making music. In the studio, when all efforts have failed to
relax a rigid singer, I've been known to suggest a cocktail
break. The puzzled singer often asks, "Won't alcohol hurt
my voice?" To which I reply, "I'm talking one drink,
and nothing would hurt you more than releasing this track with
the vocal as it stands now."
make your own decisions regarding what goes into your body.
So let's go over the facts. Alcohol is a drying agent. The vapors
evaporate some of the mucous which lines your throat. Tension,
either from poor technique or nerves, restricts saliva ducts
causing a similar dry condition. One drink is not enough to
strip your throat, but may release muscles/attitude enough to
re-hydrate. As with all foods, be aware of negative reactions.
Besides the alcohol, wines contain tannic acid, which can dry
your throat. Beers contain fungus and grains that may stuff
your nose. Bourbons and whiskeys may be too harsh, causing more
harm than good. Alcohol is not a cure-all, nor is it something
to fear. Unlike other vices such as coffee, soda, cigarettes,
marijuana or cocaine, it's also a fact that a moderate amount
of alcohol is good for you.
dramatically, though, if you partake in binge drinking. Becoming
drunk means your blood is toxic. This is never good for singing.
Your body sacrifices fluids in order to flush out, leaving your
vocal folds dry. If you vomit, stomach acids burn the folds
and throat muscles. It takes more than 24 hours for your system
to rebalance after a binge, which means no partying on the road.
On the performance side, you are lowered to the dulled reflexes
and skewed judgment of a drunk driver. You may think you're
singing great, but a recording of the gig might be harder to
endure than the hangover. Which leads to the answer of the opening
question: Yes, ten drinks will make you an amazing singer --
to anyone who's had eleven!
Baxter is a vocal therapist
who offers private and video lessons. To contact him, call:
(800)659-6002. Visit his website at: www.voicelesson.com
with the kind permission of Mark