improve fingerpicking songs


Here are two more interesting emails I have got lately.

Email #1

 “I’ve got to a level where I can just about play a whole song (Just Breathe by Pearl Jam – the first fingerpicking song I have learnt). But I’m not confident or consistent enough to play in front of anyone else. So I’d like to be able to perform. Just to my family and friends is enough. Although my stretch goal would be an open mic night.”



It’s a really good achievement that Richard has been able to learn a whole song.

“Just Breathe” is a great song too, by the way.

Pearl Jam has always been one of my favourite bands, and although they’re mostly known for big rock songs, “Just Breathe” is very different. It’s a beautiful Travis-picked song that’s well worth checking out.


In terms of playing this and similar fingerpicking songs better, it all comes down to the process.

To start with, you can try working on the picking pattern over and over, played on one chord. As you do so, ensure your tone is clear, and each pluck is precise.

It’s also worth practising the chord changes with the fretting hand on their own too.

When the parts for both hands are good, you can put it all together by doing the following:

  • Break the song up into 1-2 bar sections.
  • Spot where you have developed any awkward movements or bad habits
  • Slow the tempo down and perfect each section


Try setting a goal to get this song nailed by the end of the month.

Avoid distractions.

Keep focused on this and reap the results of a brilliant song in your repertoire.

Focus is key.


Email #2

“I just love your emails, Dan. All my life I have believed that I have little or no talent for learning a musical instrument. It has been a real stumbling block for me, and yes, I do struggle to make progress, both with my guitar and piano. But I love music!

And now I believe it’s worth the effort involved, and I find enjoyment in just taking the time to sit down and play, whatever my level of expertise.  

Music has the ability to transport you from everyday concerns, and from the troubles in the world! I will continue to strive because it’s so worth the effort. Not everyone needs to be on the concert stage.”




I’m pleased Vicki got in touch.

Not many people talk much about the mental side of learning an instrument.

Yet I truly believe that as long as you have the physical ability to learn an instrument, then a large amount of your progress will come from your mindset and your self-belief.


So many guitarists have been told they are “too old”, “too talentless”, or “lacking in rhythm”, etc.

A lot of these beliefs stem from spiteful comments made by others.

Sometimes it’s a bit of teasing from loved ones, joking when you’ve sung in public (e.g. when singing “Happy Birthday” at a party)…

…Or when a guitar teacher criticises rather than encourages your playing.

…Or if your spouse or boy/girlfriend rolls their eyes when you practise.

I’ve experienced all of the above when I started out.


All those little negative experiences can build up and take on a life of their own to wreak havoc on your self-belief.

So, remember to believe you truly do deserve to play this instrument and that you truly do have the skills to develop the ability to play it well.

For anyone who has ever felt like Vicki, try not to forget that.


Speaking of self-belief, what builds up this important element of guitar playing more than anything else?

For most students, it’s usually playing songs in a way that makes them sound musical and recognisable.

The first time I played music like that on my guitar, my self-belief rocketed.


If you want, you can check out my bundle of eBooks.

One of the newest bonuses is a PDF of five simple songs you can play along with backing tracks.

Learn one or two of the songs and I’m pretty certain you too will get a good shot of self-belief.

…And of course, you can use the 7 eBooks to fix any specific issues in your playing.

Here’s the link to find out more:

Guitar Domination Super eBook Bundle


Hope you enjoyed reading this email and have a great day!

Dan Thorpe

Guitar Domination


P.S. This post was originally taken from Dan Thorpe’s private email list. To get blog posts like this sent to you which are full of great tips to make fingerpicking, strumming, and learning guitar more enjoyable (especially if you are over 40) join Dan’s list. It’s 100% free, HERE.

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