Breath management training in classical singing is becoming increasingly physiologically focused, despite evidence that directives focusing on chest-wall kinematic (ribcage and abdominal) behavior effect minimal change in acoustical measures of singing. A direct and proportionate relationship between breathing behavior and vocal quality is important in singing training because singing teachers rely primarily on changes in sound quality to assess the efficacy of breath management modification. Pedagogical opinion is also strongly divided over whether the strategy of retarding the reduction in abdominal dimension during singing has a negative effect on vocal quality. This study investigated whether changes in abdominal kinematic strategy were perceptible and whether listeners preferred a particular strategy. Fourteen experienced singing teachers and vocal coaches assessed audio samples of five female classical singers whose respiratory kinematic patterns during singing had been recorded habitually and under two simple, dichotomous directives: Gradually drawing the abdomen inward and gradually expanding the abdomen, during each phrase. Listeners rated the singers on standard of singing and of breath management. Ratings analysis took into consideration changes in kinematic behavior under each directive determined from the respiratory recordings. Listener ratings for two singers were unaffected by directive. For three singers, ratings were lower when the directive opposed habitual kinematic behavior. The results did not support the pedagogical assumption of a direct and proportional link between respiratory behavior and standard of singing or that the abdomen-outward strategy was deleterious to vocal quality. The findings demonstrate the importance of considering habitual breathing behavior in both research and pedagogical contexts.