Welcome to another slightly nerdy singing technique post from Brighton Singing Lessons HQ! ;-)
The answer to the question
“Does it make an IMMEDIATE difference to singing when you drink water?” surprisingly is NO!
The ONLY way to quickly get water to benefit and hydrate your vocal folds is to gargle water. By gently bubbling water over the vocal folds, you get the water to the specific area you are targeting.
However, if you have a gig, the best possible thing you can do is to hydrate 48 hours before a performance so that every single molecule of “YOU” is hydrated properly! This is the ONLY failsafe way to get the benefit to the vocal folds in a more sustainable way.
The reason why singing can feel so strange and foreign is because we use our larynx for survival purposes, and for smoother eating! Singing comes down quite low on the list of priorities, really…
1. Survival. We use our larynx without a second thought every single day of our lives for things such as general breathing, swimming and in emergency situations, (*the involuntary fight or flight mechanism of the larynx kicks in).
2. Swallowing food. The food you’re swallowing is called a bolus because of its ball-like shape. As the tongue pushes the bolus back into the throat, you stop breathing. The epiglottis acts as the “trap door” – automatically closing the larynx, as it leads to the oesophagus. We do NOT want food or liquid to go down the “wrong way” past the vocal folds and into the lungs. Worst case scenario, if you have liquid (your drink) or food ending up in your lungs, it could become infected and turn in to pneumonia!
So, when people say that they drink just before a gig to get hydrated, it is too little too late. The liquid does not actually go anywhere near the voice box – in fact this is one of the biggest myths out there!!