Guitar lesson for

Learnin' To Fly

by Tom Petty  β€’  Lesson #108

Video lesson

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Editor’s notes

In this lesson, I’ll teach you how to play β€œLearnin’ to Fly” by Tom Petty – complete with chords, tabs, strumming pattern, and rhythm tips. This entire song only uses 4 chords, in the same order, the entire time – so it’s quite easy to get started with! And if you want to take it a step further, there’s good opportunity to add some flourish notes to spice things up. Here’s what’s in the video:

Video timestamps:

Chords needed

The entire song uses these 4 chords, in this order, repeating. The pinky on the high E-string (for all chords) isn’t required for the C and Am, but it helps keep the sound consistent. Play whatever version of F you prefer – I like this one (or a 3-string version on the D/G/B strings) because they work well with the flourish-note riff I show below.

E –––3–––        ––––3–––           –––3–––              –––3–––
B –––1–––        ––––1–––           –––1–––              –––0–––
G –––2–––        ––––0–––           –––2–––              –––0–––
D –––3–––        ––––2–––           –––2–––              –––0–––
A –––––––        ––––3–––           –––0–––              –––2–––
E –––––––        ––––––––           –––––––              –––3–––
     F               C                 Am                   G   

Strumming and timing

An easy way to play this is using all down-strums. As such, divide up each chord as follows – and accent the first strum of each chord.

F        C              Am       G
β€’Β Β β€’Β Β β€’Β Β β€’  β€’Β Β β€’Β Β β€’Β Β β€’  β€’Β Β β€’Β Β β€’Β Β β€’  β€’Β Β β€’Β Β β€’Β Β β€’  
>        >              >        >

The same diagram but with counting instead of generic dots (for each eighth note), is as follows:

F        C              Am       G
1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +  1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +  
>        >              >        >

Adding flourish note to your strumming

While doing your regular strumming, try to add/remove the notes shown below. See my video for reference.

E ––––3––––––––3––––––––––––––3––––––––3–––––––––––––––
B ––––1––––––––1––––––––––––––1––0––1––0–––––1––0––––––
G ––––2––0––2––0––––––––––––––2––––––––0–––––––––––––––
D ––––3––––––––2––––––––––––––2––––––––0–––––––––––––––
A –––––––––––––3––––––––––––––0––––––––2–––––––––––––––
E –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––3–––––––––––––––
      1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +  1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +  
      F        C              Am       G

Lyrics w/ chords

INTRO
  F-C-Am-G (repeat this for the whole song!)

VERSE
            F       C    Am  G             F     C      Am  G
    Well, I started out............ down a dirty road
    F       C    Am  G              F     C   Am  G
    Started out.................... all alone
            F        C     Am  G         F           C      Am   G
    And the sun went down.......... as I crossed the hill
            F        C   Am  G          F         C       Am   G
    And the town lit up............ the world got still

CHORUS
            F           C    Am  G           F         C     Am  G
        I'm learning to fly........... but I ain't got wings
        F      C     Am  G                   F       C     Am  G
        Coming down.................. is the hardest thing

             F        C     Am   G      F      C     Am  G
    Well the good old days......... may not return
            F           C    Am G           F       C      Am  G    
    And the rocks might melt....... and the sea may burn

            F           C    Am  G       F           C      Am   G
        I'm learning to fly......... but I ain't got wings
        F      C     Am  G          F       C       Am   G
        Coming down......... is the hardest thing

          F        C     Am  G        F        C     Am   G
    Well, some say life......... will beat you down
    F          C      Am  G      F          C      Am   G
    Break your heart............ steal your crown
            F       C    Am   G      F         C      Am   G
    So I've started out......... for God knows where
      F          C      Am   G        F     C       Am   G
    I guess I'll know........... when I get there

            F           C    Am  G     F        C      Am  G
        I'm learning to fly......... around the clouds
            F         C    Am  G     F         C     Am   G
        But what goes up............ must come down
            F           C    Am  G       F           C      Am  G
        I'm learning to fly......... but I ain't got wings
        F      C       Am   G               F       C       Am   G
        Coming down................. is the hardest thing

Good luck!

Let me know if you have questions. I hope this was helpful.

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