Let’s look at the scientific evidence of foods and beverages impacting your vocal performance -says Speech Language Pathologist Kristie Reece Knickerbocker
When I was younger, I was petrified that eating before a performance would screw it all up.
I can remember vividly, sitting at a Texas Music Educators Association competition as a kid near me consumed an entire slice of pepperoni pizza before disappearing into his audition room.
He leaned over and smiled, “It’s always good luck for me.”
I was aghast, and I hope my face did not reflect what was going on in my head. Food? I thought. Before singing? NEVER!
But, why did I believe so strongly that the voice gods would shun me if I ate a bite of anything? Should superstitions be revered? Is it really all in my head?
He obviously thought that the pizza was his golden ticket for the American Idol of Texas choir competitions.
The Power of A Placebo?
Some performers believe licorice before a gig helps improve vocal range. One singer would consume an entire bag of licorice prior to a performance. Is this a placebo?
After discussing, he stopped and the range remained the same. Hmm…. What about those singers that tell you eating Lays potato chips will lubricate their throats? Is this only in Nashville?
What you eat and drink will not touch your vocal folds; it only touches the tongue, soft palate, throat walls and esophagus.
If it is touching your vocal folds, you are aspirating!
A recent post on a professional voice teaching thread inquired about what teachers advised singers to drink to lubricate their cords.
Home remedies included vinegar, garlic, ginger, olive oil, sugar, and even aloe vera. None of these have scientific evidence that they are harmful to the voice, so if you think it helps, then by all means.
Nothing really lubricates the cords from the outside, but drinking hydrating beverages lubricates from the inside, so this is kind of true…kind of…Just make sure you don’t become a yummy snack for your speech therapist if you come in smelling like an Italian dish.
Water will always benefit the friction and heat created by your vocal folds by lubricating them on a cellular level. See also, my previous blog on beta-blockers and performance if your patient is considering anti-anxiety meds along with the olive-oil rub.
This is the fifth in a series of articles by Kristie Knickerbocker.
Previous article: Do Dairy Products Really Thicken Your Mucus?
Next article: Are Cold Beverages, Caffeine and Alcohol Bad for the Voice?
Kristie Knickerbocker, MS, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist and singing voice specialist in Fort Worth, Texas. She provides voice, swallowing and speech therapy in her own private practice, a tempo Voice Center, LLC. She also lectures on the singing voice to area choirs and students. She belongs to ASHA’s Special Interest Group 3-Voice and Voice Disorders. She keeps a blog on her website at www.atempovoicecenter.com
This article is adapted from Kristie’s blog which first appeared on The American Speech Language Hearing Association site www.Asha.org