Is Alcohol Bad For Your Voice?

Good question! This is a common question I have heard over the years, and this ties in with other vices like vaping or smoking. Rather than giving you hard rules, I'd like you to consider having a certain train of thought...

The short answer is yes, it does mess with your voice. However, you are not a machine. Every day you're instrument is a little different. When using your voice, you have to understand that you are vocalizing how your internal body feels. If you are stressed, if you slept with your mouth open, if you had too much salt in your diet, if you sipped some whiskey, if your sinuses are clogged, or if you have a knot in your back...It. Makes. A. Sound. *Cue spooky sound.

Can everybody hear it?

Yes and no.

No:   An untrained ear may spot that maybe it wasn't your best performance, but they will not be able to tell you why. The average person will take your voice at face-value and not put much thought into it.

Yes:  There are those tuned-in to the subtlety of the voice as an instrument, such as a voice instructor. They are able to tell a difference. Sometimes it can be glaringly obvious, like when your voice is blown out or missing a section of your register. Other times, it can be inconspicuous. Consider this: Ever notice how your loved ones can detect if you "sound tired" when talking on the phone? It's because they pay attention to your voice, just like a fan would.

Bottom line, this profession does come with its share of vices. You're around loud music, alcohol, and drugs all while staying out late. I'm not saying that you should or shouldn't do something, just realize that it's a choice that can impact your voice. Eating a large plate of nachos with jalapenos and hot sauce before singing is probably not the best plan of attack, so immediately, it doesn't set you up for success. Smoking weed to take off the edge might be great for the nerves, but it will change your voice.

As a singer, you have to be in tune with your instrument. The question is, what makes you feel in-tune with your body and not numb to it?

Finding the answer(s) will require you to be very critical and objective of your voice. You may be drinking tea with honey and lemon all day but you're still "dried up," or nerves are getting to you. Nerves cause the fight or flight response, which will dry out your throat. A beer contains not only alcohol which constricts blood vessels (which doesn't help) but it also contains sugar (which does help, in this case). Sugar causes mucus, and le voila, your voice is lubricated again! Maybe you're freezing because you're playing an outdoor event in 40-degree weather and the cold air is making the muscles in your throat tighten; a hot toddy might be just what the doctor ordered. But as a regular every-show-I-must-have (insert-vice-here), just isn't realistic.  Listen to your body.

Advice? Use your nerves. Speaking from my personal perspective as a touring artist, I've always gone onto a stage sober. It works for me and I personally want to be present with the audience and with my art. I have figured out what foods make my body regular (ew!) and what makes me feel sluggish and I avoid those on tour, or if I have a recording session coming up. Music is a beautiful, natural high and people will adore you if you're unafraid to really share your art. You can party after the show. Just keep in mind that you might have to repeat that performance again in under 24 hours, so make smart choices!