How to Play Blackbird by The Beatles (Guitar Lesson)

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Mark Brennan


Mark Brennan returns to his Phase 3 lesson set with a lesson on the classic Beatles tune "Blackbird." This is a somewhat simple, but elegant fingerstyle acoustic arrangement that chronicles the struggles of the civil rights movement.

Taught by Mark Brennan in Rock Songs with Mark seriesLength: 28:13Difficulty: 2.5 of 5

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Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.

mishadibbsmishadibbs replied

It took me some time, but I can play through the verses and most of the chorus with you at speed. This and Landslide have done me some good with my finger picking. Great lesson, Mark.

DCReeksDCReeks replied

Awesome lesson Mark. Thx. Please do more of these.

NiekNiek replied

Absolutely Too fast the licking part . Write iT down...!

NiekNiek replied

Too fast picknick explanation

fretnomofretnomo replied

I like the way Mark presented one of my favorite songs to learn _ I listened to Mark explain it .. but then watched him play it? Try.. playing both 'G' & 'B' _ on beat 2 and starting by attacking the B first on the upstroke then brushing across the G string instead of .. Down- Up ,try going > Up-Down with the index finger and practice slowly at first. Not Sure, but I think that's how 'Sir Paul' played it.. "I had trouble playing smoothly at first but was pleased with the sound". Going to work on 'Dear Prudence' next. ~ Fretnomo

Krugie_MtlKrugie_Mtl replied

Great lesson ! Do you have some tips about tuning ? I have some trouble with the open G string in relation to the other strings, especially when playing the high part. Best,

Chasing-WindChasing-Wind replied

I learned this song from Mark several months ago and found his lesson challenging but very doable if you break it down. It also follows Sir Paul's style closely if not exactly. I just watched his performance again today as a refresher, as i haven't played it for a while. Check out Mark's Big Yellow Taxi lesson...I never fully realized how energetic the strumming patterns and tempo were on this song!

yabamyeyabamye replied

Great lesson, Mark is a very good teacher. Its taking me an embarrassing amount of practice time but i'm getting there. The 'Instructor View' has been invaluable.

EsslingEssling replied

when you are teaching it would be helpful to have the inlays on your guitar neck, just saying.

ctruncalectruncale replied

I've been butchering this song for years LOL. Thanks for the clarifications. Great lesson and factoids. :)

marblebugmarblebug replied

Beautiful song. Beautifully taught. Thank you.

superhawk20superhawk20 replied

Outstanding tutorial. Really enjoyed the historical context and background on Lennon and McCartney. Can't wait to get started learning this classic. Thanks

DennisUDennisU replied

Hi Mark, I have really enjoyed this lesson and appreciate the way it was broken down to its respective parts. This helped me greatly. I would like to suggest that going forward, please consider posting a slow version of the song demonstration along with the full speed version. I know that would help me learn the full song in a more structured way. As is, I cannot keep up with the at speed version and in trying to do so, I sacrifice the quality of my playing which is so critical in this piece. Thank you again for this lesson. It is a wonderful song and I really appreciate all the work that put in to make the lesson effective.

RonaldNorRonaldNor replied

Rather confusing instruction

nicola.grendinicola.grendi replied

grat teaching, thanks! I never thought I could learn to play this song!!!!

frank13frank13 replied

Agree with bbradf02 - I've watched this at 25% speed and I cannot follow you through the song. Great technical lesson, but very confusing to follow. Guess I need to learn to read music.

frank13frank13 replied

My apologies, watched whole lesson again and it makes perfect sense now - great lesson!! Thanks

kdpetersonkdpeterson replied

Very well taught.

Mtngirl57Mtngirl57 replied

Hi Mark, I have always wanted to learn to play this song and I am coming along nicely with doing so with your help, thanks!

Southern CashSouthern Cash replied

Hi, nice job. One thing I was wondering. If you have this licensed then why don't you place the lyrics in the PDF with the music so that I can know where the words and notation fit exactly by the original artist instead of it being a mystery and another step for me?

alfrednoelalfrednoel replied

Hello Mark.......great lesson as usual.......many thanks

dsusakdsusak replied

mark great . wish i was still in Cleveland and able to attend live dwayne

lpingenitolpingenito replied

Very clear and concise lesson I was pleased to be able to play the song so quickly Thanks

JohnPainterJohnPainter replied

Love the way you teach Mark, thanks.

bigjimgtrbigjimgtr replied

I've been playing for along time and this lesson has really jump started my finger picking which is a style I've always wanted to get into, Thank you Mark, great lesson, very clear and well taught. Jim

bevobevo replied

Thanks so much for this lesson. I want my kids (4 and 8) to understand who The Beatles were and what they meant to music. This song is the perfect introduction for them. They now sing along with me. I really enjoyed the lesson and I play this song at least once a day.

bbradf02bbradf02 replied

I find that you are very difficult to follow. I've learned this song previously and know it- and still have a hard time knowing where you are going. Some consistency in how you describe what you are doing would go a long way… I wouldn't even care how you choose to talk about it-- just maintain some consistency…

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

I just viewed a good bit of the lesson again...don't quite follow what your saying. My explanations seem to be concise and consistent enough....what specific things are you talking about?

cperraultcperrault replied

Chord charts would work better for this than tabs.

jelleapersjelleapers replied

great lesson!

jelleapersjelleapers replied

great lesson!

jelleapersjelleapers replied

great lesson!

sweep49sweep49 replied

I really like that this teaches the use of chord voicing up/down the neck. So much of what I have learned so far has been at the nut/first position. Great song; good job!!

rafael90rafael90 replied

Great Lesson MArk

studiobuddystudiobuddy replied

talking about time signature as well

studiobuddystudiobuddy replied

i dont think i could ever get used to reading mutliple notes at a time. good song for just that to start of with

dave60dave60 replied

nice job!

byfusbyfus replied

He hits the B sting with his right hand index finger too many times. Concentrate more on the open G string and it will be more authentic. He is correct about the downward motion with the index finger just don't include the B string with every stroke. Be less ridgid, or like the song says "be free".

cccattorneycccattorney replied

Thank you so much for a great lesson. More Beatles would be fantastic.

kevinacekevinace replied

We have 12 Beatles songs licensed total. More will be posted in the coming weeks / months!

kevinmdkevinmd replied

Will the other beatles song lesson utilize another teacher?

Jason.MounceJason.Mounce replied

There are several different instructors that are covering The Beatles content that we have.

hgb8956hgb8956 replied

great lesson, great song, love the Beatles

fyordorfyordor replied

very cool thank you

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied

We Gotst Da BEATLES!!!!

Rock Songs with Mark

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Take a step back in time with Mark and learn to shred some rock n' roll classics.

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Mark Brennan and his wife, Marla, take on "She Talks to Angels". This song is from The Black Crowes release, Shake Your Money Maker.

Length: 34:12 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Big Yellow TaxiLesson 10

Big Yellow Taxi

"Big Yellow Taxi" appears on Joni Mitchell's Ladies of the Canyon, released in 1970.

Length: 23:13 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
LandslideLesson 11


Mark teaches you the ins and outs of a Stevie Nicks' / Fleetwood Mac fan favorite. After Mark plays the full song demo, Marla (Mark's lovely wife) joins him and sings this beautiful song.

Length: 34:23 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
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You and Me

Mark Brennan takes you through the mega hit that brought Lifehouse international attention.

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Mark Brennan teaches this classic rock song by Jethro Tull.

Length: 69:09 Difficulty: 2.0 FREE
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Bad Moon Rising

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Length: 35:05 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
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Down On The Corner

Mark Brennan teaches this Creedence Clearwater Revival classic.

Length: 31:14 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Proud MaryLesson 17

Proud Mary

Mark Brennan teaches this Creedence Clearwater Revival classic.

Length: 36:25 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
I've Got A Rock 'n' Roll HeartLesson 18

I've Got A Rock 'n' Roll Heart

Mark Brennan teaches you how to play this hit song from Eric Clapton. Released on Money And Cigarettes in 1983, the song has had a recent boost in popularity thanks to its use in a cell phone commercial.

Length: 75:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Dear PrudenceLesson 19

Dear Prudence

Mark Brennan returns to JamPlay with a song lesson for "Dear Prudence" by The Beatles. Originally released on the famous White Album, this song was written about Prudence Farrow.

Length: 72:55 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
BlackbirdLesson 20


Mark Brennan returns to his Phase 3 lesson set with a lesson on the classic Beatles tune "Blackbird." This is a somewhat simple, but elegant fingerstyle acoustic arrangement that chronicles the struggles...

Length: 28:13 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Rocky RaccoonLesson 21

Rocky Raccoon

Mark Brennan returns with another song for his Phase 3 series. In this lesson, he tackles the Beatles tune "Rocky Raccoon." This is The Beatles' attempt at a bit of humor and some country western flair.

Length: 22:31 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Mark Brennan

About Mark Brennan View Full Biography Mark Brennan, born August 12th, 1954 in Cleveland, Ohio, began playing guitar at the age of 10. His first influences were from the Ventures and the British Invasion, especially the Beatles and Rolling Stones. Shortly afterwards he was playing in rock bands with his brother on drums, developing his ear by learning songs straight from records. Playing in a band became a passion.

In high school, he grew to love acoustic and classical guitar. He spent time playing acoustic music, influenced by The Eagles, CSN, Dan Folgelberg, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, etc. In the 70's, he headed a very popular Cleveland band, The Brennan-Cosma Band, which played a variety of acoustic and rock music, along with originals. He also took up classicalguitar, and began developing his fingerstyle technique.

Mark is a graduate of Cleveland State University (1980), with a Bachelor of Music in Classical guitar performance. He also studied Music Composition, and took many Music Education classes. After graduation, he began his private teaching career, teaching electric, acoustic, and classical guitar, along with music theory. He taught in various studios and guitar shops throughout his career, and currently has a private practice at his home in Fairview Park, Ohio.

In the 80's Mark took an affection to Progressive rock. With his band Polyphony, he was influenced by the music of Yes, Genesis, Kansas, ELP, Styx, along with a set of prog rock originals.

Currently, Mark is in the regionally successful Pink Floyd tribute band Wish You Were Here. The band performs faithful renderings of the Floyd classics spanning their entire catalog, along with a strong visual stage show. Here, Mark displays his command of the David Gilmour style.

Mark is excited to be part of's fine roster of teachers. He's looking forward to extending his 35 years of performing and teaching experience to the JamPlay members. His philosophy is about developing a passion for guitar and being the best musician you can be; being true to yourself and developing a personal style, and truly expressing your heart through your music.

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