Attempting to play Blackbird - The Beatles (63 days guitar progress)

This song is a bit too hard for me to play at the original tempo of 96 so I’ve played it at around 80 bpm here to get some feedback. Would love some tips on what i can focus on to improve faster. Currently the problems that I’m aware of is my posture and my picking hand. I am trying to curl my picking hand’s fingers more up but it just feels unnatural. Anyways, please let me know what you think


Very good playing for someone only 2 months in! But I’m not the least bit envious…no no no…not me! :grinning:

As others pointed out in a previous post, your posture could become an issue.

Here’s my analysis:

  1. In order to “pin” or “pinch” your guitar between your right leg and your right arm you are dropping the guitar neck too low.

  2. To compensate for the low neck angle, you are dropping your left shoulder. This makes the fretting easier, but at the cost of twisting your spine.

It might be a simple fix - just raise the neck and straighten up your torso.

But if your guitar/body fit is similar to mine, this will destabilize the solid pin/pinch you are getting, and create a new problem - the guitar will not feel secure in your lap, and the neck will want to move around.

In that case, I’d suggest you either experiment with playing seated with a strap, or look into guitar lifts that rest on your leg (someone recently suggested rolling up a towel and putting it between the guitar and your right leg - maybe I can find and link)

EDIT: Found it… EDIT 2: towel or lift goes on LEFT leg, not right


I would say this is extrodinary playing after 63 days :clap::clap::clap:
Hats off… really really impressive. Could not do it in 630 days :grin:

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Hi Oliver :wave: I wouldn’t know what to say to help you improve any faster, I think for 63 days in you’re doing absolutely incredible so just keep doing what you’re doing :clap: very impressive :v:

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Thank you for taking the time to write this. Using a towel to raise the guitar a bit actually feels quite nice :grin:. I will keep experimenting with this, raising the guitar neck higher so that it isn’t straight feels a bit unnatural for me :sweat_smile:.

Hi Oliver, you’re doing really well. Fantastically well.

It’s clear that you dedicate a lot of time to practice. I assume guitar is not your first instrument? As many people can struggle with timing elements and also having both hands and fingers moving independently at this stage.

I also noticed on your other video that your fingers and long and thin - that will definitely help you, as out of the gate you have excellent fretboard reach. I know for me I’ve had to do daily hand stretching for the last year to improve my reach (I’ve been playing about 18 months). So that’s going to help immensely with your playing.

I thought your technique was good. If you’re concerning about the finger positions on your picking hand, experiment with different hand positions - they won’t all feel natural. This is an area each guitarist needs to work out what works best for their biology. With your long fingers it makes more sense that your fingers would end up angled rather than straight down. You could try resting your palm on the bridge (I don’t do that when fingerpicking, my fingers are too short). Although I wouldn’t be obsessive about that at this stage, just keep learning new songs as you’ve been doing.

You’re already practicing with a metronome, which is great, the way to get quicker is to slowly increase the bpm (e.g. 2 or 3 at a time) over days while keeping it clean.

You’re doing great. I also see you’re quite young, you’re going to go far if you stick at it. You might want to think about dropping the “X many days progress” from future posts as I think it can get some people that struggle offside. Days fade into months, fade into years… it’s practice that matters.


I don’t know why anyone would use a towel when playing guitar?

The neck should be above parallel with the floor (i.e. not dropping) but aside from that it’s personal comfort.

Thank you so much jkahn. I have indeed played piano before for about a year or so. I wouldn’t say my fingers are long but they are definitely thin :laughing:. I like your advice on upping the metronome bpm little by little and i will definitely do that. The “X days progress” matters a lot to me because i do it with every new skill i learn and it’s my way of pushing myself, but I can leave it off these posts if it’s triggering some people. Thanks again for commenting :grin:

Sounds great, especially for only 2 months in! The picking sounded fine. That’s what counts, and I thought your tone was beautiful. I’d guess that it probably just feels weird because it’s new is all.

I would differ from some of the others and suggest you not speed it up just yet. I feel that you could work on getting it a little bit smoother on the second set of chords (where it goes, “Take these broken wings and learn to fly.”). I hear a very slight hesitation when you move from one chord to another in that part that could be made more musical.

Perhaps I differ from others here due to my own tendencies, but I personally think speed should be the last thing you work on. Me, I tend to try and get to the original recording’s speed before I’m ready, which then ends up giving me bad habits as the inevitable mistakes end up getting practiced over and over and then I get to the point where I never can play it cleanly.

So, if you’re anything like me, I’d suggest concentrate on playing at whatever tempo at which you can play it perfectly to your own ears and it also feels comfortable. Keep doing that, and eventually you’ll be able to play it cleanly at whatever tempo you want, and then you can let your voice be the guide and be able to follow it along effortlessly with the guitar while also focusing on what you want to say musically.

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First off very good job for a “beginner”. I actually started off learning finger style with the bout resting on my left leg instead of the right, it gets the neck up higher. After time I switched to an adjustable foot rest and then to my right, problem solved. Keep up the good work!

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Wow, this is really impressive for only being a couple of months in! I have been playing for 3 years and I don’t feel like my sliding skills are all that great.

No advice here, as it looks like you are on the proper track with everything. Just keep playing!

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Yes, it will feel quite strange at first, because you have got in the habit of doing it your way, and changing that will feel somewhat “wrong” at first.

It may even set you back a bit at first…you probably won’t be able to play as fast or as accurately for a little while…but you pick up things very quickly, so it shouldn’t be long.

Only you can decide if it is worth it, but I believe your back will thank you in the long run. And you may even find that you progress faster and can practice longer once your playing posture improves.

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Really good. A studio guitarist I worked with many years ago told me to never practice speed, practice for perfection and speed will come on its own. My advice is to relax and practice until you can play it without having to constantly look at your left hand. Don’t worry about the speed for now. Repetition is the key.


Thank you, I will try to perfect it

WOW ! Sounds great ! You’re a natural ! Keep on my friend !

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Did he mean 63 months ! That was very good for some one 63 days in.


Making good progress Oliver. It’s good that you have taken on board the feedback from your previous recording and remain aware of what you need to work on. Things will feel unnatural when you make changes to how you play. Totally agree with practicing slowly and perfectly. Just keep working on being able to play it comfortably and accurately at a set bpm and gradually increasing the speed.

I suggest you pop over to #community-hub:introduce-yourself and tell us a little bit about yourself, your guitar journey so far, where you are on the course and your aspirations for learning here in the Justin Guitar Community.


Nicely done. I’ve been working on this tune as well and I’m not near as smooth as you are. Now I’m a bit more motivated :slight_smile:

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Awesome, I have definitely been practicing this one a bit more than I would like to admit and this was not the first take :sweat_smile:. Keep up the motivation :grinning:

I have played for over 30 years and tried twice to learn this song and just can’t get the little funny picking pattern and I fingerpick in a few different styles. You have a gift for guitar at ur pace of learning and practice will increase speed naturally. I am also a big proponent of straps as it relieves back and shoulders. But I’m almost 70. I would try a strap and bring the guitar up if a towel helped. I would also try standing then. Pick hand position is truly different for all. You might also try a strong pinky base. I have found moving onto the next tune to just keep u learning and you can keep coming back as your confidence builds

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