Singing with guitar is something I have done for many years. I have also worked with numerous clients who need to sing and play guitar, in a number genres. I have found that singing when playing the instrument can be easier and better with a few simple adjustments so I’d like to share these with you.
Head and Neck Alignment
Check your head and neck alignment – leaning over to look at your hands can make it trickier to sing efficiently. You larynx (which houses the vocal folds you sing with) needs freedom to move – leaning over from the neck and shoulders can “squash” it! Singing with guitar means that you may need to make a few compromises and change what you might normally do. This is worth it though as a good head and neck alignment will also help your general posture and wellbeing.
Use a Strap on Your Guitar
When singing with guitar use a strap and make sure it is the right length. Avoid playing with the guitar balanced on your knee and hunching over; your lungs and ribs need space to expand freely for you to be able to sing well.
If you have an intricate passage to play a. save it for an instrumental b. practise it enough so that you don’t have to lean over and look c. if you do have to look and sing you can do so by moving/nodding the head at the atlas joint (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlas_anatomy) and casting your eyes down to see the guitar fretboard rather than leaning over with the whole upper body. This will allow you to breathe efficiently and also keep your larynx free to move.
If you have a microphone when singing with guitar, it is best to adjust it so that you don’t have to crane your neck in order to sing. Importantly, this will also mean that you have a better head and neck alignment, as mentioned above. Do check the height and the distance of the mic from your mouth.
If your guitar is amplified make sure the balance is right so that you don’t have to shout to hear yourself; use a fold back system if possible. If the band is loud the same applies. If possible make friends with the sound engineer and get things adjusted. Oh, and if need be get the band to pipe down a bit.
All for now – do add ideas or get in touch if you’d like to find out more about how I work with guitarists.
Check back soon for ideas about playing guitar for other singers.