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Don’t Wait to Hydrate

Don't Wait to Hydrate
Drink the ‘right way’ to enhance your performance –says Mark Baxter

Every car comes with an owner’s manual that instructs you to pull over immediately if the oil light on the dash illuminates.

A better idea, if you’re in the habit of waiting until the trouble light comes on before taking care of your engine, would be to put a “for sale” sign on the vehicle.


Allowing a car to run without enough lubrication is a sure recipe for trouble down the road.

The same is true for singers who don’t keep themselves hydrated. The problem is friction.

The body has a natural solution, but it only works if we follow the advice in the owner’s manual for our health.

An All-Day Affair

Keeping yourself hydrated is an all-day affair. It takes at least twenty minutes for water to cycle around your system and show up at the membranes where it’s needed.

This means drinks on stage don’t take effect until after your performance. So why does it feel like a quick swig of something between songs offers immediate relief?

Two reasons: The first is that there are receptors in the throat that signal the brain that fluids are on the way. The second is the physical action of swallowing.

Contrary to belief, nothing we swallow touches the vocal folds. All of the potions singers consume to lubricate the voice are channeled away from the larynx by the epiglottis and sent down the esophagus.

It’s just as well. Like the eye, the larynx should be awash in saline and hyaluronic acid, not tea and honey.

If you are driving your voice hard, or are nervous, the muscles in the throat tighten. The tension closes the saliva ducts designated for the larynx.

Like blinking, swallowing changes the muscles’ position for a second and allows the ducts to open and re-lubricate – that’s if you are hydrated in the first place.

Two thirds of your body weight is water. It would make sense, then, to replace what’s lost with the same.


A general rule is to consume 30 ml of water for every kg of body weight per day (1/2 oz per pound).

The water you eat counts, so if you’re not fond of drinking the stuff, load up on high-water content foods like raw fruits and vegetables.

Unfortunately, beer, coffee and sodas don’t count. Even though each contains mostly water, their ingredients trigger the body to flush, leaving you with less water than before.

My Reactions to This Week’s Peer Review Vids

Alvymarie Rodriguez Thumbnail Alvymarie Rodriguez – “Someone Like You” by Adele (Cover)

Alvymarie you sing with such conviction! You have much to offer as a singer so it’s a shame that you chose an Adele cover – simply because by comparison she makes your voice seem a little small. There’s nothing stopping you from achieving a larger sound (exercises to open the mouth and throat for one), but until then I think it would be best to cover songs from artists who are very unlike you (like male singers). That way your unique sound will captivate without comparison.

Colin Fittzgibbon Thumbnail Colin Fittzgibbon – “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” by The Beatles (Cover)

Beautiful job Colin. This was a great song choice and a very tasteful accompaniment. You clearly know what fits your voice and personality. It was a good idea to allow your register to change on the high notes in order not to push or drive inappropriately. This video made me want to hear more. I’m curious if you have another gear to engage for more power when a song calls for it. Very well done.

Ayleen Thumbnail Ayleen – “We Are Never Getting Back Together” by Taylor Swift (Cover)

Ayleen you are absolutely adorable with the amount of love you pour into this song. You are clearly one of Taylor’s biggest fans! Your explanation at the end of the video answered all my suspicions – that you were preoccupied when shooting this video. So you kind of raced through it just hoping to get through it without screwing up. And you did! You’ve got a bright future ahead once you slow down and let your feelings show up in your singing (rather than Taylor’s!).

 The Ultimate Guide to SingingMark is a contributor to The Ultimate Guide to Singing Available in print and Kindle versions in the US, the UK and across the world.

Mark Baxter Professional Shoot

Mark Baxter has worked as a coach with Aerosmith, Journey, Goo Goo Dolls — and many others. He is the author of The Rock-n-Roll Singer’s Survival, creator of The Singer’s Toolbox instructional DVD, Sing Like an Idol instructional CD. Mark operates vocal studios in New York, Boston, Los Angeles and online via Skype. Visit his website: VoiceLesson
You can read more of Mark’s work here.

  • Hi Mark! Well written and GREAT advice! Wonderful to see you here as the vocal coach in residence! – All the best, Jeannie Deva

  • “Dr”. Baxter, what you say may well have a lot of truth in it. However I think you have momentarily overlooked to mention, that “mind over matter” also affects the voice both from both one’s mental state and physiologically.

    Being in a state of stress or anger or even overt over-confidence perhaps is known to affect the voice dramatically. Stress and worry, to the point of even choking it or silencing it. Hyaluronic acid being present or not.
    My dear mother, God rest her beautiful soprano voice, always swore by indulging in a stress-free few minutes relaxing with a cuppa Earl Grey tea with a teaspoonful of honey and sometimes with a tiny nip of brandy, particularly during the cold winter months. I took up on that also and have passed on the recommendation to many over the last fifty years. We never waited for your allotted time for the unction to take effect but simply got on with the job of singing. The improvement in vocality over the previous tight-throated state of being, was, and is, often quite dramatic.

    If our family tea concoction does not contain hyaluronic acid or reach its point of destination through our circulatory system, then it must all be in the mind, as the effect it has is both immediate and apparent.

    I would think most of us are aware these days that even the medical profession confirms that “What’s in the mind can heal and repair the body”.

    Anyways..mine’s an Earl Grey with teaspoon o’ honey, a nip o’ Napoleon and no sugar thanks.



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