Monday, December 16, 2019

Booze, cream and other vocal dangers

It’s the festive season, a time for (over) indulgence.

There’s nothing wrong with moderation, but some of your indulgences can be bad for your voice.


I’ve written before about Why alcohol and good singing don’t mix. That was more about how alcohol can make you think you’re singing better than you really are.

But alcohol can affect your singing other ways:

  • you can end up singing loudly with all technique going out the window – you might be in danger of losing your voice
  • alcohol irritates the mucous membranes that line the throat and can also cause the muscles in your throat to constrict – this will limit your range and can cause excessive mucous
  • if you do drink alcohol, you’ll need to compensate any dehydrating effects by drinking more water than usual
  • drinking a lot of alcohol regularly can permanently change your voice – which is fine if you want to be Tom Waits, but maybe not for all singers
  • if you do like a drink before a gig, some musicians recommend brandy, whisky, vodka, gin or port rather than wine or beer

rich foods

Indulging over the festive period probably won’t destroy your singing voice. Unless you’re a professional singer who needs to maintain their voice in tip-top condition at all times, it’s possible to eat most foods, but not in excess.

However, if you’ve got a performance coming up, it’s probably best to avoid some foods a few hours before singing if you want your voice to be at its best.

  • dairy (cream, cheese, butter, yogurt) – can cause acid reflux and increased mucous
  • sugar – can cause a sugar high which then tails off quickly and leaves you with no energy, plus it leaves a phlegmy feeling in your throat and mouth
  • fried food – can cause heartburn and excess mucous

enjoy in moderation

Let’s get things in perspective though: for most of us, indulging occasionally is not going to end our singing careers. As long as you enjoy what you’re ingesting and don’t do it excessively, it’ll be fine. Except for too much alcohol of course!

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Chris Rowbury




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