Clippinger uses the /o/ and /u/ to help with entering the head voice and there is every reason why this can be effective, particularly considering the vowel formants involved. Clippinger did not have the scientific findings we have today, so much of his writing, philosophical more than detailed, reflects the empirical method of teaching, the major trial and error method going back to the 17th c. Having said that, I too realize that science does not teach one how to sing and that other methods of delivery must be developed to do that effectively, all the while being supported by fact rather than imagery or guessing. This applied pedagogical approach, supported by fact, is what my book is all about.
Q: Whilst reading through your book, I kept on thinking I was reading about the Alexander Technique. How does that technique relate to your teaching method?
I think Alexander Techique and any other serious efforts by qualified people to elicit body alignment are good for optimal health. Good body alignment reduces friction in the body and allows the skeleton to support it. As a result ALL body movements are freer, including those needed for singing.
Q: The exercises in your book seem very simple, but critical to perform correctly. You mention several times the important of doing them very slowly and carefully. Can a student really tell they are doing them correctly without the guidance of a private teacher
Good question. Undoubtedly the best scenario is to have the quidance of a good teacher. However, for a singer who has studied voice before and is sensitive to the kinesthetic experiences of singing might very well be able to make major discoveries by diligently performing those simple exercises as directed in the book.
Q: You mention Vennard--were there any other major influences on your teaching style?
Venard is no more or less a major influence on my teaching than any of the other authors who have championed fact based pedagogy and voice research. However, Venard was at the forefront of the voice research that has surged in the last 40 years or so and I studied it before it was common to be reading about the science of singing. Therefore I am comfortable and supportive of educating the singer in science of voice but do not think it teaches one how to sing. Teaching is a different art, and I believe the essence of teaching singers how to sing must be focused on the kinesthetic experience of the singer, experience that can be backed by the facts of science throughout the entire process. The pedagogy for teaching an applied art such as singing demands a different approach than the pedagogy for teaching a cognitive subject such as voice science. The Three Step Approach reflects this difference as well as my years of teaching experience and personal communication style.