Vocal Ease
...by David Finkie
BackStage, March 30, 2005
(from a discussion about the affects of AMERICAN IDOL on our teaching studios)
The reason for discontent among the coaches has to do, unsurprisingly, with the worrisome harm that American Idol–hyped singing does to the voice. When the subject arises, Peter Van Derick, who sees students privately and teaches New York University students at Frank and Eliza Ventura's company Collaborate Arts Project 21, immediately starts talking about muscular tension dysphonia (MTD). "It's the illness du jour vocally," he reports, and it results from tension in the throat and neck. He attributes the condition in part to the "gravelly" singing young warblers cultivate because they believe it's sexy.
"Young people are imitating that sound," Van Derick says. "During [CAP21's] intensive during the summer, I find a lot of the girls coming in with this issue. Even if they didn't have the problem before, they will have it." Although he doesn't see MTD in his better-prepared students, he mentions that his CAP21 colleagues do—so much so that the school recently felt the need to organize an MTD workshop for the teachers. "It can be corrected," Van Derick says, "if it doesn't go too far."

*Reprinted with permission.

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Peter Van Derick in the role of Thomas Garrett, A Woman Called Moses. Virginia Opera.

© Peter Van Derick
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