How To Water Your Voice

 In Vocal Health
Little girl with eyes closed and a stream of water if coming out of her mouth

I was standing in the wings, about to make my entrance when I noticed that it was raining on stage. I mean it wasn’t supposed to be, but it sure looked like rain to me. Then I realized that what I was seeing was saliva raining forth from the mouths of the chorus! “OMG! Get me an umbrella,” I thought. It was then that I made an important realization: it takes water to sing! Yes, I had heard that it was important to keep hydrated when performing, but this was solid proof of why. You spit when you sing! And, just in case you public speakers think you cannot be blamed for a soggy audience, I assure you that you spit when you speak, too. And the more vigorous and energized your speaking and singing, the more you spit.

Besides spitting when you use your voice, your vocal folds require a nice coating of mucous to work properly. The only way you achieve that without having a thick, cough-inducing mess on your folds is to drink water. According to singer/teacher Rachael Gates in Voice Council Magazine, you also need to drink more water if you drink caffeine, as every ounce of fluid from a caffeinated drink needs to be replaced with non-caffeinated fluid.

glass of clear water with water being poured into it

Water helps vocal folds to work more effectively, and a recent study in South Africa on voice quality as it relates to hydration showed that positive changes in young professional singers’ voices after hydration included the ability to sustain notes longer and to reach higher frequencies. They inferred that this showed promise for helping them create and sustain better careers.

Summer is a great time to address this issue because water bottles are particularly popular in July and August. I see them everywhere. However, I’ve learned that just any water bottle won’t do, and I don’t recommend that we fill up landfills with plastic bottles. My daughter just got one that’s eco-friendly, keeps the water cool or warm all day long, and has no nasty plastics or other chemicals to make her toxic. If you don’t already have one, here are some guidelines for determining how much water you need in order to establish a hydration habit that will have your audience crying out for umbrellas.

How much water you need

  1. How much water do you need? According to the Mayo Clinic, that’s 13 cups a day for men and 9 cups for women. But that depends on how much you sweat and how active you are. To get a more accurate idea, Camelbak, the makers of very posh and green water bottles have a water calculator you can use. The results are in both liters and ounces.
  2. Are there other physical goals to consider? According to the Livestrong website, water may help you lose weight by filling you up AND increasing your metabolism. For this purpose, you will need to consume 4 cups of water a day for every 50 pounds of body weight, regardless of gender.
  3. How will you keep this interesting? Although sugar is not useful in hydration OR in losing weight, adding flavoring such as cucumbers, citrus or whole fruit to your water jug can be a nice way to get some variety in your hydration. Or better yet, try singing The Drink More Water Song. Thanks, Andy Z. Bah badah bah.


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