D.A. Clippinger on “Breath Extremists”

“The immediate danger of laying undue emphasis on any one idea in voice training lies in its tendency toward the mechanical and away from the spontaneous, automatic response so vitally necessary. Here the extremists commit a fatal error. To make breath management the all-in-all of singing invariably leads to direct control, and soon the student has become so conscious of the mechanism of breathing that his mind is never off of it while singing; he finds himself becoming rigid trying to prevent his breath from escaping, and the more rigid he becomes the less control he has.  A large number of examples of this kind of breath management have come under my observation. They all show the evil results of over working an idea.

But the followers of “the-breath-is-the-whole-thing” idea say “You can’t sing without breath control.” Solomon never said a truer thing, but the plan just mentioned is the worst way possible to secure it.

Every one should know that not a single one of the processes of voice production is right until it is working automatically, and automatic action is the result of indirect, never of direct control.”

Clippinger, David Alva. The Head Voice and Other Problems: Practical Talks on Singing. Oliver Ditson Company, 1917.