There is a caricature in our cultural mind of how a female opera singer stands to sing – in particular – the way she clasps her hands. One hand faces palm up, the other palm down, and the fingers from the right hand are hooked into the fingers of the left.
I actually remember fellow competitors in the music festivals of my youth doing this. I also remember thinking that it looked pretty goofy. Ok – I still think that it looks goofy, but at least I’ve found a good rehearsal use for it.
It might be that they all knew about a wheel that I had to reinvent.
When everyone in a choir pulls or pushes (with the heels of the hands – but same general position) at the end of a phrase, the difference in support is remarkable.
I’ve also had success with students pressing against the piano at phrase endings – or choir members pressing down on the church pew in front of them. Both work well, but pianos and church benches are not very portable. Hands are usually available.
When this technique is used often enough, the body begins to do, automatically, what’s required for supporting a sound. The beauty of this is that the conscious mind never has to bother about trying to understand how to make it happen. It can leave support to the hands, and later, the body memory.