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What Should a Musician Eat Before Going OnStage?

As a musician, it’s important to keep yourself in tip top shape. Concerts are no joke. You must stand in front of an audience for hours and keep up your level of enthusiasm. If you have to sing, your voice should not give out.

Beyond eating the right foods, it’s also important to maintain balance. Eat too much and you’ll be slow and sluggish for the performance. Eat too little and you won’t have the energy you need.

So what should you be eating before you go onstage? This article will provide you with some terrific suggestions.  

What Foods are Best for Energy?

When you go onstage, you want to eat foods that boost your energy. Here are a few types that are recommended.

Complex Carbohydrates 

Complex carbohydrates are made of sugar molecules that are strung together. They are great for maintaining and boosting energy levels. Examples of complex carbohydrates include: 

  • Whole grains
  • Potatoes
  • Bananas
  • Peas
  • Beans

Protein

Foods that are high in protein will provide energy as well. Protein is found in the body and makes up the enzymes that power many of its functions. It can also be eaten in foods and taken in supplemental form.

Foods that are high in protein include:

  • Meat
  • Seafood
  • Dairy products
  • Soy products
  • Nuts
  • Beans and legumes

What Foods Should I Avoid Eating Before I Go On Stage?

Musicians should stay away from food that makes them feel slow and sluggish. Fried, greasy foods and those that are high in sugar should be avoided. They should also keep caffeine intake to a minimum.

Even though caffeine and sugar can make you feel energetic, they will eventually cause you to crash so you wear out during your performance.

What Should I Eat Before a Choir Performance?

If you are about to perform in a choir, you need to eat foods that will give you energy and will keep your throat clear. Here is what’s recommended.

  • Fish and chicken will be your best meat options.
  • Choose apples, eggs, rice and yellow vegetables as your sides. Yellow vegetables are good for your fibrous tissues.
  • Whole grains and fruit that are rich in antioxidants like A, C and E will keep vocal cords healthy.

Here is what you shouldn’t be eating before a vocal performance:

  • Bananas and dairy products that can cause an overproduction of mucus.
  • Fatty and fried foods that make you feel sluggish.
  • Nuts and snack foods that can get caught in your throat if they are not completely washed down.

What to Drink if You Have a Sore Throat Before a Performance

If you have a sore throat before a performance, there are several drinks that will soothe it so you can get through your show. These include:

  • Ginger Tea: Ginger tea can be made by cutting up 2 tbsp. of fresh ginger and pouring boiling water over it. Note, the drink should not be too hot when drank as this can irritate vocal cords. Very cold drinks will cause vocal cords to constrict and will not be a good choice either.
  • Sage Tea: Sage tea has a similar effect to ginger tea.
  • Lemon Water: Lemon loosens up mucus. Add honey to soothe and coat the vocal cords.
  • Cinnamon: Cinnamon soothes sore throats and coughs.

Marching Bands

Marching bands may look like they’re having fun, and maybe they are, but being in a marching band is hard work. You have to carry your instrument, play in a hot suit and march around. So what’s the secret to keeping up your energy during a marching band performance? Here are a few suggestions.

  • Start your day with a hearty breakfast that consists of oatmeal, waffles, pancakes, bagels, low sugar cereal, whole grain bread with peanut butter, yogurt, fruit, lean meat (like Canadian bacon), cottage cheese and milk. You don’t have to eat all of these in one sitting, but they are good suggestions for meal components!
  • Stay Hydrated: While marching, you want to make sure you have plenty of liquids on hand. Avoid sugary, carbonated drinks. Water is always a good go to.
  • Take Snacks: Take snacks along that will help you keep your energy up during the day. Apples, bananas, grapes and carrots are good choices because they are high in complex carbs and protein, and you can pop them in your mouth without worrying about getting your instrument dirty or slimy.

Foods Marching Band Musicians Should Avoid

As a marching band musician, you will want to avoid the following foods:

  • Foods that are high in carbs, sugar and fat
  • Caffeinated drinks. Some sports drinks can be okay, especially if you sweat a lot.

Orchestra

If you are about to perform with an orchestra, it’s best to eat light and stay away from heavy foods. Eating heavy foods weigh down the diaphragm and can inhibit movement. Here are the things you should be eating before an orchestra performance.

  • Complex carbs and light protein like yogurt and bananas.
  • Honey and lime juice which increase saliva production.
  • Liquids that will keep you hydrated under the hot lights.

When you get off stage, you are sure to be hungry. Have a healthy snack waiting for you in your dressing room.

Foods to Avoid Before Performing with an Orchestra

Here are some foods orchestra musicians should avoid before a performance.

  • Spicy foods: Spicy foods are often greasy and can increase phlegm. However, some mildly spicy foods may be okay. In fact, they may even help clear congestion.
  • Caffeinated drinks: Caffeinated drinks can cause the jitters and make it difficult to keep your hand steady when you are playing your instrument.
  • Sugary foods that will give you energy at first but they will make you crash during your performance.

What Do Rock and Pop Stars Eat Before Going On Stage?

Now you know what you should be eating before going on stage. But this doesn’t necessarily match what many rock stars eat before a performance. Here are some examples of what your favorite celebrities are snacking on before they make live appearances.

 Keith Richards: Keith Richards insists on eating a Shepherd’s pie with an unbroken crust before he goes on stage. He once got to a show to find his pie had been accidentally eaten by the security team and he delayed the concert until he was made a new one.

The Foo Fighters: The Foo Fighters reportedly do shots of Jägermeister while dancing to Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall to get ready for shows. They claim this gives them a David Lee Roth type energy.

Rihanna: The foods in Rihanna’s rider include Oreos and Golden Grahams cereal. She is also said to drink Grey Goose vodka and fruit juice before she takes the stage.

Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin may have once consumed large amounts of alcohol before their shows, but today, they prefer a hot cup of tea. Although beer and wine are included in their rider, they reportedly require very little of it.

John Legend: John Legend is doing it right. He asks for water and a rotisserie chicken before his performances 

Lorde: Lorde keeps things light before her shows. She enjoys snacking on berries and dried noori. She claims that she gets very nervous before performing and eating more than that would make her throw up.

Pearl Jam: Pearl Jam require a loaf of multigrain bread, a dozen fresh bagels, four bags of chips (potato and tortilla) with guacamole and salsa dip and sodas. They also travel with their own juicer and require the venue to provide ingredients to juice including ginger, ginseng, and carrots. The carrots must be de-stemmed so they go in the juicer easily.

Jennifer Lopez: Jennifer Lopez indulges herself with apple pie and ice cream as well as green seedless grapes. She also demands no tomato, apple or grape juice. This is likely to minimize the likelihood of staining the all-white room she requests.

Bruce Springsteen’s Band: According to reports, Springsteen himself didn’t have many food related demands in his rider. However, his late sax player Clarence Clemons asked for a whole roast chicken to be delivered in the middle of the concert so it was ready to eat before he went to bed. He also requested beluga caviar and Carr’s brand water crackers. Springsteen’s wife, Patti Scialfra, asked for soy milk, green tea and protein and energy supplements.

Lady Gaga: Like Clemons, Gaga also requests an entire roast chicken post show accompanied by dried fruit, a veggie plate with ranch dip, twelve bottles of water at room temperature, Starfish brand tuna and honey.

Rapper Busta Rhymes: Busta Rhymes is simple, He requests a bottle of champagne, a bucket of KFC and a box of condoms.

Roger Daltrey: The Who lead singer asks for six bottles of tonic water, one bottle of vodka, a jar of honey, two packs of throat coat lozenges and vanilla ice cream before his shows.

Pete Townshend: Making things even more complicated for The Who road crew, Pete Townshend has his own set of demands. These include two bottles of orange juice, six cans of Coke, six cocktail glasses and chamomile tea with milk.

Van Halen: Van Halen’s rider was perhaps the most notorious among rock bands.. They were the band that demanded no brown M&Ms. While this may sound super picky, it was supposedly a way for them to determine the level of attention the promoter paid to their requirements. If a brown M& M was found, it could be a sign of other issues with the rider.

Their rider also included herring in sour cream, four cases of Schlitz Malt liquor and eight bottles of wine and liquor, as well as a tube of KY jelly (presumably not for consumption) 

Iggy Pop: Iggy Pop is another rock star with a rider that lives in infamy. As a spoof on other rock stars, he created an 18-page rider that is filled with ridiculous demands and hilarious jokes. For instance, he asks for a Bob Hope impersonator, a copy of USA Today “that’s got a story about morbidly obese people” and a “monitor man who speaks good English and is not afraid of death.”

But when it comes to food, Pop is not too picky. He requires a thick vegetarian soup, two enormous pizzas (one four cheese and one hot pepperoni) and baguettes which should specifically come from a specialist boulangerie) as well as ham, chicken, fruit and chocolate.

When it comes to the demands for his own dressing room, Pop gets more elaborate. He asks for a “full bodied Bordeaux type of wine. Probably French. And something we’ve heard of but still can’t pronounce.” He also includes a line about getting “cauliflower/broccoli cut into individual florets and thrown immediately into the garbage.”

The Food and Money Issue

While it’s advisable to eat well on the road, and especially before performances, some artists simply don’t have the money to do so. They are dealing with limited budgets and can barely get by as it is. This makes it difficult for them to afford any food at all much less those that are healthy and therefore, often more expensive.

Most bands on the road end up eating fast food or whatever they can find under a heat lamp at a 7-11. This means they end up with items that slow down their system and do little to support energy and immunity in trying times. 

Another common issue is one that occurs when musicians finally do find food. They show up at a club after starving and eating junk for days at a time and find that one kindly club owner decided to feed them with tantalizing, possibly nutritious, mouthwatering food. So, what do they do? They pig out.

While these musicians deserve a break, eating this way before going onstage can easily make them sick, especially when combined with nerves and the state of their digestive system on the road. As a result, they end up getting sick on stage. Indeed, there have been plenty of celebrities that have puked and pooped themselves during a performance. Yep, it’s not always drug related.

So what should musicians be doing to keep this from happening? They should be taking healthy snacks on the road with them. Here are some examples of foods that are nutritious and portable.

  • Almonds: Almonds are easy to take around with you on the road. They are also high in fiber so they boost energy and make you feel full.
  • Beef Jerky: There are various types of beef jerky and some are healthier than others. But in most instances, it will be a high protein, highly portable snack.
  • Protein Bars: This is another snack that’s filling and will provide you with energy.
  • String Cheese: String cheese contains healthy fat and complex carbs. Combine it with fresh fruit to stay regular.
  • Dried Fruit: Dried fruit isn’t as healthy as fresh fruit due to its high sugar content, but it’s a lot more portable. It makes a great snack in desperate times.

Musicians don’t have an easy time on tour, especially when it comes to finding healthy things to eat. The tips in this article will help you find the meal items that are right for you, whether you’re in transit or getting ready to go on stage. What do you like to snack on when you’re out on the road?

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