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Hey, I saw this question and I immediately remembered one or two teachers that kept saying that drinking cold/hot drinks before and/or during playing any woodwind or brass instrument was a bad thing, and I always followed that advice, but never really questioned it.

So, I couldn't help to wonder, besides the unfortunate lack of hygiene, Is there any disadvantage to this? Does this have any effect?

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I bet military band members would have a wealth of practical experience in this regard. –  Nathan May 13 '11 at 18:09
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4 Answers 4

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There's a slight change in exhausted air. When throat is cold, somewhat colder exhausted air becomes densier and that may be a subject of a slight pitch change.

There is another question if this change can be audible. If it is, I think it would be momentary- cold / hot throat quickly changes its temperature to natural body's temperature level.

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The only thing I can think of is burning your tongue with hot drink, or making your mouth go numb with cold drink.

The cold/hot drink might also have an effect on your throat. Banana can for example make it kind of sticky (eating banana and singing is not a nice combination), it might be the same with hot chocolate (in that case more from the milk or cream)...

Mostly guessing. The banana effect I have felt.

As a side note: I like to brush my teeth before playing the trumpet sometimes, and some brands of toothpaste make it hard to play, my lips are paralyzed.

I suppose reed instruments are more sensitive than brass.

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The only I can think of is that when you eat or drink, you potentially have more saliva in your mouth, combined with sugar etc that can make the mouth piece more dirty/disgusting. Personally, I often drink coffee (no sugar) close up to before I play (I play Tuba). Actually in our orchestra practice (not professional orchestra...), the mid break is officially called a coffee break!

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I don't know whether or not the temperature of the drink affects your ability to play a horn, but my band director says that if you drink anything containing sugar it will either:

  • Cause the inside of a brass instrument to rust more quickly than normal.

  • Cause the pads of a woodwind instrument to become sticky and therefore prevent it from forming a proper seal.

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