Aside from considering which drinks are good and bad for singers, did you also know that the temperature of your fluids affects your vocal cords too?
Drinking water before singing is important and the best way to lubricate your voice. But does cold water affect your voice and should you be enjoying piping hot drinks ahead of a gig? While it may not seem an exciting option, room temperature is the way to go.
In this article, you’ll find out how to take your pre-show beverages and the impact cold and hot drinks have on your ability to sing at your best.
Does cold water affect your voice?
First, when discussing cold water, we’re referring to drinking a bottle of water straight from the fridge. It’ll likely have some condensation on the bottle and be refreshing on a summer’s day. Proper hydration is an important part of singing because then the vocal cords have enough moisture to move freely. Surrounding the vocal cords, you have muscles which help to expand and cords for high notes. Cold water impacts these muscles.
So is cold or hot water good for your singing voice? How about sucking on ice? And which drinks are good for your voice? Read on to find out more.
Is cold water good or bad for singing?
Cold water can restrict the surrounding muscles so your voice can’t achieve the movements it needs. Imagine you’re in a cold room. You’re less likely to want to move, and even if you do, your performance isn’t the same as if you were warmer. It’s the same principle with cold vocal cords. It can shock the vocal cords and create tension which limits your vocal range and ability.
But, hot water can cause inflammation and increase mucus production. Stick to room-temperature water which enables flexibility in your cords. This applies not only to singers but to everyone. Ice cold water is not good for the body, and here’s why.
How is drinking cold water bad for your voice?
The temperature of cold water can shock the vocal cords. Think about when you exercise. You warm up the muscles beforehand because if you exercised on cold muscles, you’re more likely to cause injury. This is the same as singing. Icy water can negatively affect your voice by impairing your cords’ flexibility so they can’t function properly.
Is eating ice bad for your voice?
Ice is especially bad for your voice when eaten by itself and not within a drink. However, Ice cubes are good for singers in some scenarios. If you have swollen vocal cords or have sung excessively and your tone sounds strained, ice cubes can help to ease any discomfort. Incorrect placement, forcing your voice and singing for a long time can put pressure on the vocal cords. This pressure is usually caused by swelling, and holding an ice pack to your throat can reduce this swelling so you can get back to singing again.
Warming up the voice and then eating ice cubes would be counterproductive. So give those iced coffees, frappes and slushies a miss before you sing.
Does drinking hot water help your voice?
But, to say that cold water is bad for singers, implies that hot water is the best option. But, that isn’t the case. Hot fluids increase mucus and this then lines the pharynx which can affect your tone. This is good news for coffee aficionados who have long held the belief that the drink should be consumed warm, not hot, as it burns the coffee and affects the taste.
Is hot water good for singers?
If you swallow hot fluids, this is likely to cause inflammation which will increase sensitivity and make singing overall more difficult and uncomfortable. And like coffee, if the water you drink is around 65 degrees Celsius, you’re at risk of burning and damaging your vocal cords – which you might not feel immediately after the drink. As with drinking very cold water, there are plenty of health reasons to give very hot drinks a miss, aside from improving your vocals.
Does hot water make your voice better?
When you’re sick a steaming mug of something nice can make you feel better. And there is some benefit to this, but it actually comes from the stream. Inhaling deeply over steaming water will loosen mucus, reducing the symptoms of catarrh and a cold.
While you should avoid hot drinks, warm ones are great. Here are some of the ways you can liven it up and find the perfect brew for you.
So what do singers drink before they sing?
We advise singers to drink room-temperature water as this has many benefits on the voice. Leave your water in a room for 30 minutes before drinking it so the temperature can adjust to your surroundings. Six to eight glasses of water a day is ideal. Are you drinking enough? Here are some telltale signs that you may not be.
- Dark coloured urine. It should be a pale straw-like shade.
- Frequent headaches.
- Tiredness and fatigue.
- Muscle aches.
- Urinating fewer than four times per day.
Drinking water before singing
Room-temperature water can reduce thickened mucus, and we all know how irritating mucus can be. In some regions tap water contains chemicals, so opt for a water filter or boil the kettle and leave the water to hit room temperature instead.
Lubricate your throat for singing
It’s important to lubricate the throat when singing because dry vocal cords can lead to a hoarse sound and even damage your throat. And water is the very best lubrication, plus its free. Be sure to drink plenty, especially when singing, dancing or working in a dry environment.
Is lemon good for your voice?
Lemon is useful for clarifying purposes and this includes flushing out your respiratory tract when taken in small amounts with plenty of warm water. If you’ve been struck by the lurgi, throw in some high-quality honey too.
- Is whispering bad for your voice?
If you get laryngitis is can be tempting to whisper. Far from saving your voice, it’s actually making it work even harder. So if you lose it, don’t use it, even to whisper. You’re better just trying to speak normally. If your voice is healthy, some whispering will not be an issue.
- Does cold weather affect your voice?
Yes, cold weather can impact your voice in the same way as cold drinks. In order to hit high notes, the cords need to stretch. But if they’re cold, they’ll freeze up and this action is much harder. This is why you often see singers with scarves wrapped around their mouth, nose and throat.
- Is milk bad for your voice?
You may think this would be a sensible and healthy alternative to water. But dairy products encourage the build-up of mucus that clogs the vocal cords. If you want a creamy drink, opt for an alternative like oat, soy, rice or coconut milk.
What do you drink before a performance? Are there certain temperature drinks that you avoid? Let us know in the comments below.