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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

Video Subtitles / Captions

Member Comments about this Lesson

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

DCReeksDCReeks replied on June 7th, 2018

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

NiekNiek replied on February 21st, 2017

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

NiekNiek replied on February 14th, 2017

Too fast picknick explanation

fretnomofretnomo replied on January 23rd, 2017

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 on August 15th, 2016

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 on July 24th, 2016

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 on July 6th, 2016

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 on July 3rd, 2016

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

ctruncalectruncale replied on June 6th, 2016

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

marblebugmarblebug replied on March 28th, 2016

Beautiful song. Beautifully taught. Thank you.

superhawk20superhawk20 replied on February 18th, 2016

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 on February 16th, 2016

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 on January 4th, 2016

Rather confusing instruction

nicola.grendinicola.grendi replied on October 9th, 2015

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

frank13frank13 replied on October 7th, 2015

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 on October 21st, 2015

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

kdpetersonkdpeterson replied on July 11th, 2015

Very well taught.

Mtngirl57Mtngirl57 replied on April 28th, 2015

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 on March 10th, 2015

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 on January 28th, 2015

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

dsusakdsusak replied on January 4th, 2015

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

lpingenitolpingenito replied on November 7th, 2014

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

JohnPainterJohnPainter replied on September 16th, 2014

Love the way you teach Mark, thanks.

bigjimgtrbigjimgtr replied on September 8th, 2014

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 on May 23rd, 2014

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 on April 27th, 2014

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 on November 24th, 2014

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 on April 27th, 2014

Chord charts would work better for this than tabs.

jelleapersjelleapers replied on April 9th, 2014

great lesson!

jelleapersjelleapers replied on April 9th, 2014

great lesson!

jelleapersjelleapers replied on April 9th, 2014

great lesson!

sweep49sweep49 replied on January 10th, 2014

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 on January 8th, 2014

Great Lesson MArk

studiobuddystudiobuddy replied on December 29th, 2013

talking about time signature as well

studiobuddystudiobuddy replied on December 29th, 2013

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 on December 27th, 2013

nice job!

byfusbyfus replied on December 27th, 2013

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 on December 21st, 2013

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

kevinacekevinace replied on December 23rd, 2013

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

kevinmdkevinmd replied on December 29th, 2013

Will the other beatles song lesson utilize another teacher?

Jason.MounceJason.Mounce replied on December 30th, 2013

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

hgb8956hgb8956 replied on December 19th, 2013

great lesson, great song, love the Beatles

fyordorfyordor replied on December 19th, 2013

very cool thank you

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied on December 19th, 2013

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.

Lesson 4

She Talks to Angels

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
Lesson 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
Lesson 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
Lesson 13

You and Me

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

Length: 23:34 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 14


Mark Brennan teaches this classic rock song by Jethro Tull.

Length: 69:09 Difficulty: 2.0 FREE
Lesson 15

Bad Moon Rising

Mark Brennan teaches this classic rock staple.

Length: 35:05 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 16

Down On The Corner

Mark Brennan teaches this Creedence Clearwater Revival classic.

Length: 31:14 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 17

Proud Mary

Mark Brennan teaches this Creedence Clearwater Revival classic.

Length: 36:25 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 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
Lesson 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
Lesson 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
Lesson 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

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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