I was looking at Valor bards and saw they get shield proficiency later. It seems to cater to the person wanting to play a more melee-oriented bard, but I see one major problem and want to see if perhaps I'm misinterpreting:
To cast any spell with a Material component, my understanding is that you need a free hand to interact with said material (or your arcane focus). For Paladins/Clerics, that's not normally an issue since they can use their shield (assuming it has an emblem on it), and other spellcasters can generally use a Staff as a focus (which can double as a melee weapon). Generally, this is in conjunction with the War Caster feat so as not to worry about Somatic components.
The Bard, however, can only use his instrument as a spellcasting focus. This means if he has a weapon in one hand and a shield in the other, he's kind of screwed even with the War Caster feat since that does not help with Material component requirements.
Is this a correct interpretation of the rules? And if so, how do people generally overcome that problem as a sword-and-board Bard?