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I am a keyboardist and love to sing, but my voice is not up to my satisfaction. I have been wondering if there is any specific food, fruit, drinks or anything whatsoever that can improve a vocalist or singer's voice.

I know fervently well that there are lots of voice enhancing exercises out there.

But what I am asking for is something you eat or drink that could instantaneously correct errors, fix breakages and clear your voice for smooth and hassle free singing.

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In a word, no. Nothing but well oriented work will allow you to improve your voice (unless there is lack of hydration or some physiological problems to begin with, in which case proper hydration or some specific treatment may help).

A lot of things can harm it, though: lack of hydration, smoking, heavy drinking, and extremely iced drinks. Some foods cause flegm (it varies from person to person) that just before singing can also become a nuisance.

Eating and drinking before going to bed (even just water) may cause gastric fluid to reach the throat and cause irritation of the vocal folds.

A visit to a specialized voice therapeut, preferably an M.D., will help identify potential physiological problems, if there are any that may be impeding your progress, and recomend care or remedial procedures, if required. Getting to know your instrument is good advice for any musician, vocalist is not an exception.

(thanks to Todd Wilcox for helping make this answer more useful).

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    As you allude to in your answer, one could make the case that there is one thing someone can drink to help their voice: water. I suppose that only helps if one is not getting enough of it already, but I would guess that most people could be better hydrated. Hydrating effectively definitely made a difference for my voice. It is true that water will not "instantly" help your voice, which was part of the question. – Todd Wilcox May 16 '16 at 12:34
  • Todd, you're right, of course. Also, some specific physiological difficulties (excess flegm, harsh throat, etc.) could be helped by specific care, including ingestion of some substances, thus removing some obstacles for improvement.I'll edit my answer not to be so "radical". – José David May 16 '16 at 14:34
  • @joseem Well I was thinking there could be something like that . Anyways I will take note of the aforementioned. thanks – Kenny Dabiri May 16 '16 at 19:29
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There is no magic bullet (or food or drink) that will suddenly transform you from an average singer to an Idol finalist. However - what you eat or drink prior to singing can have an effect on your voice and should certainly be carefully considered.

The most important thing you can do (as mentioned by others) is to be sure your body is well hydrated. Your vocal apparatus consists of mucous membranes and other tissues that function best when fully hydrated. If your body lacks proper hydration, all the tissues in your body are at greater risk of injury and may fail to function at their optimal level.

You can't hydrate just your throat and vocal folds by drinking a gallon of water right before you sing. To obtain the optimal fluid balance in your vocal apparatus, you must achieve full body hydration on a cellular level in advance. To do that - start drinking plenty of fluids at least two hours before you sing (or just make a healthy fluid intake level part of your daily routine). Also prior to singing, you should avoid chemicals that dehydrate your body such as caffeine and alcohol and non essential over the counter medications that list dryness as a side effect.

When I have a performance coming up where I will be singing, I start planning at least a day ahead by drinking plenty of water and cutting back on coffee and avoiding alcohol the day before (and day of) a gig. I'll wait until after the show to enjoy an adult beverage (as long as I am not performing the next day).

I try not to eat a big meal prior to singing. I don't want my energy and blood supply being diverted to digestion (or anything coming back up during my performance).

As mentioned by Joseem, you should avoid foods which might result in acid reflux. I have had bad luck with the citric acid in fruit juice tightening up my throat. Extremely salty foods might tend to dry out your throat if eaten right before singing. Have you ever seen what happens when you pour salt on a slug (don't try it)? You do need salt in your body - but gradual and regular intake is the way to get the salt (just like water) into your system on cellular vs. topical level.

On stage I keep room temperature (not cold) water to keep my throat wet and maintain hydration. If I had a thermometer I might shoot for body temperature water.

I also keep a plastic jar of raw, organic, honey (not processed) and take a shot every now and then. For whatever reason it seems to help me personally - but I can't cite any scientific studies that prove it's efficacy for singers. I have read of some science that confirms that raw honey is a natural anti inflammatory and anti oxidant. And it seems to act as a temporary lubricant for my throat.

Some of my performing friends use products such as Singer's Saving Grace, Entertainer's Secret or Vocalzone Throat Pastilles. I have not personally tried these and don't know if their perceived effectiveness is real or imagined. I would hesitate to take the marketing hype on the websites as gospel. These products tout various ingredients as having lubricating and anti inflammatory properties.

The only thing I am absolutely positive that works from personal experience - and has plenty of science behind it is proper hydration. It's guaranteed to make a difference! But you must start the process of full body hydration well in advance of your performance. Good luck and have fun!

  • "start drinking plenty of fluids at least a day before you sing" is good advice, although as you note, since normally one would want to practice singing virtually every day, one should always maintain hydration to keep one's voice in good shape for daily singing practice. I've read (although without corraboration) that it can actually take a week to become fully hydrated. Other downsides to eating before singing include reduced space for diaghram expansion and the possibility of lingering food bits flying everywhere, even into one's lungs on the inhale. – Todd Wilcox May 16 '16 at 19:18
  • @ToddWilcox all good points! I mentioned food coming back up during performance and that was meant to include exhaling it as well as all the other ways food can come back out the same way it went in which shares the vocal tract and is never good - no matter what causes it to come back up. Proper hydration is indeed a process that occurs over an extended period - the main point being, you can't achieve it in a short period of time (like an hour or two prior to a gig). Good point about the diaphragm. That's probably the main reason not to eat a large meal prior to singing. – Rockin Cowboy May 16 '16 at 20:48
  • Hydration is not a process that occurs over an extended period. It does not happen instantaneously -- it takes a little time for your body to absorb the water; 30-60 minutes should be sufficient (unless you're coming to your gig from a lengthy desert hike). It does make sense to drink water during the gig, too! I don't know of any evidence for honey. The science you mention is for the direct topical use of medical grade honey, but believe me, you do not want any honey sitting directly on your vocal cords! I agree to avoid alcohol...but it can make you think you've improved your voice. ;) – MysteriousWhisper May 20 '16 at 23:49
  • @MysteriousWhisper you might be right about the day before. I read that in a magazine article but further research points to two hours. I edited the answer - thanks for your help. I sip water on stage because singing tends to dry out my mouth and throat inhaling all that air. I am not the only singer who uses honey and It seems to work for me. If you can link an article from a nutritionist or medical journal that indicates that honey is bad for your vocal chords I would love to see it and might reconsider. – Rockin Cowboy May 21 '16 at 1:20
  • Ah, to clarify, it's not bad to have honey. I only meant that it doesn't go onto your cords where it might have anti-inflammatory (and anti-breathing) effects; it goes into your esophagus. Lots of singers find it soothing; there's no problem with that! – MysteriousWhisper May 21 '16 at 19:10

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