What's your Musical Poison?

March 1, 2016 at 06:40 AM · Hello all,

So a thought came to mind last night, while a friend of mine was at my house. He is a violist and a terrible influence on me. Anyway drinking soon ensued and we played a bunch of duets till niether of us could hold up our instruments. The point of this story is that I've noticed that I have a go to drink when he's around and we play together. I was wondering if any of you enjoy a good drink while playing your instruments. Mine is a Whiskey and Coka-Cola combination (the name escapes me at the moment).

Replies (20)

March 1, 2016 at 09:48 AM · It may work in a pub where the listeners have drunk more than the players, but I never touch alcohol before playing in public.

March 1, 2016 at 02:10 PM · Not even when you're home practicing?

March 1, 2016 at 02:12 PM · I find that even a whiff of alcohol degrades my playing (which is plenty bad to start with) quite noticeably. So I avoid drinking before playing or practicing; doing so would seem disrespectful to the music, and in the case of practicing, probably counterproductive as well. Afterwards is a different matter, and a glass or two of red wine has a restorative effect on me after a couple of hours of hacking away at chamber music.

March 1, 2016 at 02:46 PM · ยท "Not even when you're home practicing?"

No, because I am trying to improve!

March 1, 2016 at 03:05 PM · Good answer Mr. Heath

March 1, 2016 at 03:12 PM · Even a small amount of alcohol plays havoc with my intonation and overall accuracy. I just play badly and thanks to the alcohol I don't care - which is the opposite of what I want to gain from my practise time. Therefore absolutely no playing/practising under the influence for me.

March 1, 2016 at 03:29 PM · I play both jazz piano and classical violin, both at roughly the same intermediate-amateur level. Both require concentration, but in different ways. Jazz is a medium that is relatively forgiving of technical imperfection whereas improvisation benefits from a relaxed mind. Moreover intonation, in particular, is not an issue on the piano. Therefore, my performance as a jazz pianist is facilitated by having a small amount of alcohol, such as one pint of beer, over the first hour of a two- or three-hour evening gig. Two pints is too much. I find, however, that when I play the violin, even when just practicing, having any alcohol whatsoever wrecks what little technique I may have. Thus, I no longer have more than a small glass of wine with dinner if I'm planning to practice the violin later in the evening. Recently I had occasion to explore this apparent paradox because I joined a new trio that plays Brazilian jazz, and I am the violinist of the group (the other members are a guitarist and a percussionist). The answer is no. I still cannot have a drop. So it's the instrument, not the genre. Tennis players will say that their serve is the first thing to go when they are not at their best. For violinists I think it's their intonation. Artur Rubinstein recorded in his memoir that he often got stone drunk at parties held by European nobles only to be led staggering to the piano and asked to "play something," whereupon he would produce flawless Chopin or Liszt. I have never heard such a story told of Heifetz or Elman or Kreisler. But maybe that's because I haven't read their memoirs, if even they wrote them.

PS Whiskey and Coke? Really? You may be thinking of the term "Jack and Coke" which refers to Jack Daniels whiskey specifically. I prefer the terms "gut bomb" or "glucose tolerance test" for this particular concoction.

March 1, 2016 at 03:36 PM · The last time I tried mixing (a very small amount of) alcohol and playing was a chamber music party over thirty years ago...I find playing chamber music to be much more enjoyable when people are playing in tune...just sayin'.

March 1, 2016 at 05:12 PM · Alcohol is an easily accessible and relatively affordable relaxant. Beware of creating a connection between the need for relaxation and instant, socially accepted way to get relaxed. It is highly addictive and crossing the addiction line is not clearly visible.

Ask yourself: why do I need to drink in order to be able to play violin?

Remember Sibelius? He struggled most of his life with alcohol addiction.

[Those inclined toward Astrology are well aware that Neptune rules both music and opiates. Strong Neptune in native's chart makes a potential to become an excellent musician or an alcoholic. ]

The choice on how to reach transcendence is entirely ours.

March 1, 2016 at 05:50 PM · Mr. Milankov you are a very philosophical man, it's a little scary, but very appreciated. Mr. Deck that's what I was looking for don't know why I couldn't remember it when I was typing this up! Yes I'm a sucker for Jack & Coke. Although I might take to calling it the gut bomb. If I can use that.

March 1, 2016 at 05:59 PM · It's all yours. I wish I could say it was original. :) Recently this drink was also renamed the "Lemmy" after some rock musician who allegedly drank quite a few of them. I don't think it will stick. The folks who make Jack Daniels won't stand for that very long.

March 1, 2016 at 08:44 PM · I always drink some simple English Breakfast Tea when I'm practicing. Never tried with alcohol before.

So! After reading this topic, I decided to make an experiment! Last night it was wine. Half a glass didn't do anything to my performance. About a glass-and-a-half later, I was so sleepy I could hardly bother trying to play. Wine makes me sleepy. So there, wine and playing doesn't work for me because it puts me to sleep.

Then today I tried something stronger: Absinthe (the real, European stuff)! ...I had the day off, nothing important to do, so I figured yeah I'd have hard booze at noon, don't judge me! ;)

Well, A few sips in and I was just feeling very happy, but a couple more sips and my right arm decided I was now a drummer and I forgot how to bow properly. ...and I got the giggles. So yeah alcohol and playing doesn't work for me. I'll stick with tea.

March 1, 2016 at 10:25 PM · Miss. Francis you have no idea how correct you are. I normally only drink half a class of wine when I practice and I feel like having a nice drink. But when my friend is around all hell breaks lose. Normally we finish a bottle of Jack by ourselves and still have the ability to play. Then after that we get sleepy and or fully energized and start hitting each other with our bows, because we decided to reenact Star Wars. Mr. Mitchell I never judge I encourage! Also Absinth, now that is some hard core stuff!!

March 2, 2016 at 03:02 AM · I seem to perform the best when I take muscle relaxant/painkilers... Although I cannot recommend it to anyone.

March 2, 2016 at 03:11 AM · Is it off that those have the opposite effect on me?

March 2, 2016 at 03:24 AM · 4 shots of Bacardi with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and fill the rest of the glass with orange juice! I'll drink four of those and practice until I hit the floor (which isn't much later!).

March 2, 2016 at 03:52 AM · I once had a teacher who would consume straight vodka from a rocks glass during my lesson, and would often drink more than one glass over the course of several hours.

He'd be so drunk afterwards that he couldn't drive, but his speech and playing always seemed totally unaffected.

March 2, 2016 at 04:13 AM · Mr. Dalton you and I need to meet up that sounds like a fun time! Mrs. Long I am not at that level yet since I get light headed and can't pronounce five syllable words with out laughing, but I'd love to study under your old teacher!

March 2, 2016 at 10:43 AM · I only drive others to drink with my practice.

My three cats have taken particular offence to the rekindling of my love of the violin...previously, only picking up the hoover made them scramble to escape so fast.

March 2, 2016 at 04:10 PM · Ha! That's actually pretty funny.

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