Liquid Courage for "Better" Playing?

ColdFusion

Member
Rhetorical question (mostly). Does anybody here use alcohol to relax and loosen up the chops before jamming or performing?

For a long time as an "intermediate" player I surely appreciated the advantage of a little fire-water to loosen the knots in the stomach and help me to live in the moment a little better.

Because my practice routine is rather rigorous, I have long since given up even casual drinking. I think the tipping point for me was realizing that alcohol was not a very cool superpower. More of a crutch really.

I can report that building musical skills in a natural, patient, sober state is much more satisfying in the long term.

In fact my own experience seems to suggest that the tendency for a drummer to drink just before playing indicates big deficits in that player's experience and/or skillset (and obviously their confidence).

I feel like this might be an issue for some people. For me, it felt rather liberating to get to the point where I could just relax and acheive maximum drummer buzz...without the booze.
 

spelman

Senior Member
 

Seafroggys

Silver Member
My intention is never to drink before practice. Sometimes I'll get off work (work at home), crack open a beer to loosen up from the stress, and maybe practice a bit later, but one beer won't do anything to me.

There have been bands I've been in (one in particular) where beer was always brought to rehearsals and was drunk by everyone there. Usually didn't have an effect on me to much, and it was really only with that one band in particular.

But for gigs? Yeah, that's a crap shoot. Sometimes I might have half a beer before I go on, sometimes I've had 3 or 4.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Nope. I want to be focused and clear when I pick up sticks, and anything that affects that in any way isn't smart for me. But I'm also a confident player and don't recall ever having even mild anxieties associated with a gig, session, etc.

Calling alcohol "liquid courage" says a lot. There's a time and place for a drink or two, but not when you have to do something that requires any focus and clarity.
 

The Shepherd

Well-known member
I play jams with friends. We always drink or smoke something but we're just having fun. After a couple of hours, it shows in everyone's performance.

I've played a few small festival type of settings (close down Main St, small stage kinda thing) and I didn't drink anything. I was glad I didn't. I was scared a bit of screwing up but once you get 15 seconds into a song, the butterflies are gone.

As for singing, which I've done a few times in front of a crowd, I had a couple of rum and cokes before going up. I don't know how singers do it. I'm scared shitless every time.
 

Juniper

Gold Member
No, such person may think their playing is better but that’s probably the alcohol!

I want to be as focused and as reactive to other musicians (and my brain) as possible. Plus you can’t drum as well if you’re dehydrated!!.

Also, there’s an element of having respect for others and not wasting people’s time.

I’m not there to party, I’m there to play the drums at the highest standard I can do.

I expect the same of others too. Happy for people to have a beer or two. Anything more than that it’s unprofessional, especially if gigging.

Band members (myself included) can chug down drinks after the show, if they so wish.
 

single-ply

Senior Member
Rhetorical question (mostly). Does anybody here use alcohol to relax and loosen up the chops before jamming or performing?

For a long time as an "intermediate" player I surely appreciated the advantage of a little fire-water to loosen the knots in the stomach and help me to live in the moment a little better.

Because my practice routine is rather rigorous, I have long since given up even casual drinking. I think the tipping point for me was realizing that alcohol was not a very cool superpower. More of a crutch really.

I can report that building musical skills in a natural, patient, sober state is much more satisfying in the long term.

In fact my own experience seems to suggest that the tendency for a drummer to drink just before playing indicates big deficits in that player's experience and/or skillset (and obviously their confidence).

I feel like this might be an issue for some people. For me, it felt rather liberating to get to the point where I could just relax and acheive maximum drummer buzz...without the booze.
Two things from my perspective:
1 - From experience, I've learned I do NOT play as well if I've had a couple of beers. I should NOT drink and drive (the band), lol.
2 - My best playing comes when I've had NO sugar for 10 -12 hours before a gig. Without sugar in my system, my tempos and focus are MUCH better. In fact, my life in general is much better when I've had no sugar. I'm just hopelessly addicted to it, lol!
 

No Way Jose

Silver Member
lt's OK if you just want to have fun.
 

Neal Pert

Well-known member
I should preface my comments by saying that I like and consume all sorts of alcohol and am no prude about it.

I do agree with others who've said that they don't imbibe while playing. One needs more productive ways of handling anxiety-- ones that don't involve dulling your ability to listen and respond to what's going on. If I'm feeling great heading into a gig I MAY get a drink to sip during the set. Like, last night the piano player told me his go-to drink is a shot of Jim Beam in a tall glass of club soda, so I got one and sipped it through the gig. But I definitely want to be sober when playing and I don't want to feel any impact on my playing.

Meditation, visualization, exercise, whatever. But if playing isn't a joy to you when sober, something needs attention.

Having been the sober guy on many a gig, I can say with confidence that alcohol and weed don't help ANYONE actually play better-- chemicals just help you THINK you're playing better.
 

Paul Blood

Junior Member
I have to be sober to play my instrument. I always wondered how hard core drug addicts and alcoholics like Charlie Parker who played at such a high level of mastery while intoxicated. Would he have played better, worse or just as good sober? One thing is for sure, he would have lived longer if he has made healthier choices.
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
I feel like music is the only activity/profession where this is acceptable behavior. Not really sure why.
I often times would tell people that the only time I drink is when I’m working. That used to be true, pre-COVID.

I’ve been on stage with people who were abusing substances, alcohol included, and it was never fun for anyone else. Use is fine with me, but abuse is not.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
It has happened in my first period in a party band, but it never helps your playing.

If this is your main job and they always go together it's a bad idea on so many levels.

I know only one person, a really great singer, but his issue was that he couldn't even get on stage without being drunk and it didn't go well.

Gigs I've done since those early tims are of a different standard, so drinking isn't really an option except maybe a glas of wine at a few of them.

In most cases, I think no drinking on the job is the best philosophy.
 
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