i think i just realized i'm thinking about this absolutely wrong, right down to my previous analogies about singing = balancing objects, at least in the way i had been visualizing it, especially with regard to breath support.
see, I had always thought of it kind of like one's breathing system being one long hollow pipe. and efficiency of breath was done by just "putting less" breath through the pipe.
I see now that this approach most closely correlates to a funnel balancing on a desk by it's narrow tip. It's not moving, but any sort of poke and WHOOP it's going to come crashing down.
Instead of less exhalation, I should have thought more inhalation.
Let me put it this way, if one is doing work that must be done gradually, like putting a really heavy object down, one exerts a lot of effort to first bring the object to equilibrium with gravity, i.e., to suspend it in air.
Then you gradually decrease your energy until the object is on the ground.
I just realized that this is what I learned to do with my breath support (which allowed an increase in volume). Instead of trying to relax my support muscles, I should engage them and engage, in addition, their opposing muscles! Short story: it's easier to fine-tune energy already being spent rather than try and engage energy from no expenditure in a controlled way.
This might yield insights into other things now. maybe.
or this might make absolutely no sense in the morning.