David Blair McClosky (1902-88), was an opera singer and voice teacher who served as John F. Kennedy's voice coach during the 1960 presidential campaign. Beneficiaries of his work as a teacher included President Lyndon B. Johnson, Gov. Michael S. Dukakis, sportscaster Curt Gowdy, actors Faye Dunaway, Al Pacino, Jill Clayburgh and Ruth Gordon, folksinger Joan Baez, and opera singer Grace Bumbry.
Born in Oswego, N.Y., McClosky graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music in 1925 and later studied in Berlin and Milan. He made more than 20 appearances as soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra during the 1930s and 1940s. He also sang in operatic productions in Europe and Africa and appeared with the New York Philharmonic, the Minneapolis and Indianapolis Symphonies and at the Bach Festival of Berea, Ohio.
In 1923 McClosky became the first radio announcer in Boston, on WNAC. During World War II he served as an Army officer performing public relations duties in the United States and Africa. From 1946 to 1955 he headed the Plymouth Rock Center of Music and Drama, in Plymouth. He taught voice and other music courses at Boston University, The Boston Conservatory of Music, Phillips Academy in Andover, Bradford College, Massachusetts College of Art, Simmons College and Vassar College. He was a consultant at various times to numerous universities, among them Tufts, Cornell, Syracuse and Wellesley College.
While collaborating with otolarynologists at Syracuse University and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, McClosky became an authority on the therapeutic treatment of voice disorders. The technique he developed had its origins with McClosky’s association with Dr. Irl Blaisdell of Syracuse University in 1946. During these years he was Clinical Voice Therapist and Consultant to the New York University College of Medicine. For 22 years, he served as Clinical Associate in Otolaryngology and Director of the Voice Therapy Clinic at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston.
The McClosky approach to the treatment of laryngeal disorders led to the publication of his first book, Your Voice at its Best (1959)– an unprecedented approach to the training of the voice, offering specific exercises to free the voice through relaxation, posture and well-coordinated breathing. With his wife, Barbara Henneberger, McClosky published a second book, Voice in Song and Speech (1984). These books have been combined and updated, and have been re-issued as Your Voice At Its Best, 5th ed., Waveland Press, 2011.
Testimonial from William W. Montgomery, M.D., Professor of Otolaryngology, Harvard Medical School:
“Dear Ms. Schuller,
This letter is to state that I have referred my patients with benign laryngeal disease to Professor McClosky for nearly two decades. His results with the treatment of vocal cord nodules and polyps, dysphonia plica-ventricularis, puberphonic voice, vocal cord paralysis, spastic dysphonia and many others have been indeed outstanding.
I not only recommend and endorse the McClosky technique, but salute this dedicated man of science. “