Singing with guitar can be helped or sabotaged by some subtle stance choices. I've been having to up my game due to my upcoming band showcase - I play guitar on a couple of our songs.
I was having trouble with buzzing strings, cramped hands and back, hurting shoulder and a tendency to forget lyrics because of too much mental distraction from my guitar playing issues. I ended up going to Gary Talley (guitar teacher), Dr. Dwaine Allison (my chiropractor) as well as consulting with band members Eric Normand (lead guitar) and my husband John Rodman (drums). You know I'm always doing research for you, so here are some tips I learned from them that pretty much fixed all those issues:
1. Gary Talley noticed two things.. that my hands were weak from not playing for years (I got complacent... playing guitar on keyboard settings). That has been cured by just DOING IT. He also noticed some chords that I could be making much easier, with fewer fingers and less motion necessary. Again... practicing will bring that home.
2. While rehearsing with me on afternoon, my husband John noticed my weird hand positions. Ergonomically- minded drummer that he is, he suggested I raise the neck of the guitar to make my hands less awkwardly positioned and cramped. OH MY GOSH... presto, so much easier to play! My chiropractor confirmed this wisdom.
3. Dr. Allison noticed that my back muscle tension below the right shoulder blade was due to my uneven shoulders while playing. He had me lower my left shoulder (on the neck side of my guitar) til it relaxed the muscle cramp I had been creating in my back. OH CHEEZBURGERS, THAT feels better!! He also suggested that I put one foot more forward to keep my head back so my chest stays open. (He's my guitar-playing vocal student, so he knows that I always advocate not crunching over a guitar so as not to tighten ribcage).
4. At rehearsal the other day, our fantastic lead guitarist Eric Normand suggested I get a bigger, padded shoulder strap. He also confirmed the different fingerings suggested by Gary. Also, since he is my vocal student, he confirmed that the tension he used to carry in his neck and the back of his head has gone away now that his stance is more voice friendly (ribcage open, head loosely bobbling over heels). I must practice what I preach to him:)
5. It's not enough to know intellectually... I really do have to practice these new stance tips. I have to practice enough - correctly - so I don't have to THINK about them when I'm on stage. When I sing and play, I have to be a singer playing, not a player singing. The voice comes first. And... when it does, I can remember my dang lyrics!
OK, what say ye singing guitar players... have any thoughts or suggestions? Please share!