Guitar Troubleshooting With The Learning Diamond!

Hey Rockstar!

Are you finding that you can play parts of songs, but have trouble putting it all together?

Are you able to play an entire song, but always make mistakes at the same part?

Or is it that you can never play a song, riff, or solo up to speed?

Either way, I think you’re really going to like this article because I’m going to show you a real gem of a practice strategy that I use for my playing and my clients’ playing that’s REALLY helped troubleshoot those annoying obstacles.

So without further ado, I’d like to present to you: The Learning Diamond.

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The Learning Diamond appears in one of my favourite books of all time –  “Effortless Mastery” by jazz pianist Kenny Werner. It outlines a simple practice system you can use to shave time off your practice sessions, and perfect the songs/riffs/solos you’ve been working on.

When you’re troubleshooting a part on your guitar, its always better to use a system or formula instead of just practicing over and over without a plan, hoping that one day, you’ll get it right, which is how most struggling guitarists practice.

Even if practicing over and over works, it’s either unreliable (only working some of the time) and definitely not as efficient, so you’ll waste a lot of time that you could be playing or learning new songs.

So the Diamond practice approach uses 4 concepts: Playing Effortlessly, Playing Perfectly, Playing the Entire Example, and Playing Fast.

And the real power comes from it’s simplicity.

To practice with the Learning Diamond, all you need to do is identify the area you want to develop in your playing, and remove one of the other areas to create your 3 part strategy.

So first play the song/riff/solo a few times as you usually do and identify what area needs fixing. It will either be the accuracy, the speed, the amount of effort you use, or the connection between the different parts to play the whole song.

Now circle that element on the diamond.

Next, cross off one of the other elements and this will form your 3 part strategy.

For example, if you want to Play Fast, then you can cross off Play Effortlessly , and you’ll be left with Play Fast, Play the Entire Example, and Play Perfectly.

Or you can also cross off Play the Entire Example and you’ll be left with Play Fast, Play Effortlessly, and Play Perfectly.

There are many combinations and you’ll need different ones at different times, so as long as you know what area needs work, then you can just circle it and experiment with moving around the Diamond and removing one of the other elements to form your strategy (for a super simplified version of this, scroll down to the Hacking The Diamond section).

 

Here are all the possibilities you’ll encounter as you move around the Diamond:

Diamond Possibilities

  1. To Develop Speed
    1. Play Fast, Play Effortlessly, Play Perfectly, Play the Entire Example
    2. Play Fast, Play Effortlessly, Play the Entire Example, Play Perfectly
    3. Play Fast, Play the Entire Example, Play Perfectly, Play Effortlessly
  2. To Develop Accuracy
    1. Play Perfectly, Play the Entire Example, Play Fast, Play Effortlessly
    2. Play Perfectly, Play the Entire Example, Play Effortlessly, Play Fast
    3. Play Perfectly, Play Fast, Play Effortlessly, Play the Entire Example
  3. To Develop Effortlessness
    1. Play Effortlessly, Play Perfectly, Play the Entire Example, Play Fast
    2. Play Effortlessly, Play Perfectly, Play Fast, Play the Entire Example
    3. Play Effortlessly, Play the Entire Example, Play Fast, Play Perfectly
  4. To Develop The Whole Song/Riff/Solo
    1. Play the Entire Example, Play Fast, Play Effortlessly, Play Perfectly
    2. Play the Entire Example, Play Fast, Play Perfectly, Play Effortlessly
    3. Play the Entire Example, Play Effortlessly, Play Perfectly, Play Fast

 

If you find any of this confusing, then that’s ok. Here are some strategies you can use in REAL world practice situations:

Strategy #1 – Play the entire song/riff/solo perfectly and up to speed

Let’s say you’ve been learning “Blackbird” by The Beatles and you want to play the whole thing perfectly and up to speed.

In order to accomplish this, you will probably need to use some effort, so in this example, we have to remove the “Play Effortlessly” element, so we can achieve our goal of playing the whole Riff perfectly and up to speed.

Strategy #2 – Play an entire song/riff/solo effortlessly and up to speed

If we go with the last example, you may feel like now you want to do the same thing, but this time, you want to play “Blackbird” effortlessly (just like The Beatles do). Well, realistically, the only way this will work is by removing the “Play Perfectly” element and sacrificing accuracy.

So the key here is to focus on playing the song without any effort and not caring so much about accuracy. This is an important step in your practice because it will give you the experience of effortless playing, which will help you get to your end result faster.

I’ll show you how to put it all together in a second.

 

Strategy #3 – Play the entire song/riff/solo perfectly and effortlessly

But let’s say you want that accuracy and it bugs you when you make a mistake.

In this strategy, we have to sacrifice speed in order to play “Blackbird” perfectly and without any effort. It’s usually speed that creates tension and causes unwanted mistakes and extra effort.

 

Strategy #4 – Play part of the song/riff/solo perfectly, effortlessly, and up to speed

In this final example, we have to sacrifice the AMOUNT that we play if we want to play with accuracy, effortlessness, and up to speed. This might mean only playing a few notes of “Blackbird” at a time, or only one Verse of the song.

Playing more than we can handle is like a brain overload and is the cause of many mistakes.

 

How to Play the entire song/riff/solo perfectly, effortlessly, and up to speed

To play all 4 elements at once, first mix and match the different options above to identify the problem areas in your playing and practice accordingly.

Once you’ve experienced all the possibilities of the Diamond and played “Blackbird” from many different angles, you should be able to attempt all 4 elements at the same time: Playing Effortlessly, Playing Perfectly, Playing the Entire Example, and Playing Fast.

If you can, then amazing! Congrats! 😀

If you can’t, then notice which element needs work and remove one of the other elements so you can properly focus on it.

 

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Hacking The Diamond (aka “Cut Your Practice Time In Half!”)

I’ve been using this system for myself and for my clients over the past 20 years and it has helped me get information into my mind and fingers incredibly fast.

I’ve also found that the two most important concepts of the Diamond are Speed (“Play Fast”) and Amount (“Play the Entire Example”). While you can mix and match all 4 and achieve success, you’ll probably spend most of your time switching between Speed and Amount – especially when learning a song/riff/solo from scratch.

I like to think of them as two opposing knobs on a stereo (when Speed goes up, the Amount goes down and when the Amount goes up, the Speed goes down).

When you think of tackling your practice in this way, you can get a lot done in very little time.

 

Goal #1 – If you want to play faster, play LESS of the Riff.

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Goal #2 – If you want to play MORE of the Riff, play slower.

 

knobsAmountSpeed

Practicing like this will literally shave HOURs off of your practice time. I guarantee it!

 

Conclusion

I really can’t say enough about how much this book [easyazon_link asin=”156224003X” locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”rockmind-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]Effortless Mastery[/easyazon_link] has impacted my approach to playing guitar (I’ve read it about 10 times so far….and counting).

Kenny shares a lot of funny & heartfelt stories and his writing style makes it seem like you’re having one of those deep conversations about life that you have with a close friend.

Safe to say, it’s a quick and enjoyable read.

For more information on The Learning Diamond, check out www.kennywerner.com or pick up [easyazon_link asin=”156224003X” locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”rockmind-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]Effortless Mastery[/easyazon_link] at Amazon.com (Kindle Version also available):

[easyazon_image add_to_cart=”default” align=”none” asin=”156224003X” cloaking=”default” height=”160″ localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41715RaqoXL._SL160_.jpg” tag=”rockmind-20″ width=”103″]

[easyazon_link asin=”156224003X” locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”rockmind-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]Effortless Mastery: Liberating the Master Musician Within (Book + CD set)[/easyazon_link]

So check it out and see how The Learning Diamond can help you troubleshoot your playing.

 

Q&A

What did you think of the Learning Diamond? Please type your questions/comments below.

If you need help getting started, please send us a message and we’ll be happy to help you design your effortless practice session.

 

Thanks for reading and talk soon,

signatureSteveakaVØID

About Steve (aka VØID)

Steve (aka VØID) is the owner and head Guitar Coach at Rockstar Mind. He is a self-taught guitarist for 20 years and a professional guitarist & Major label recording artist for 10 years (touring the world opening for and performing with big name acts such as KISS, Hinder, Finger Eleven, and Our Lady Peace). Most importantly, he has been coaching struggling guitarists for over 15 years to quickly overcome their playing obstacles and play their favourite songs on guitar. After his father was diagnosed with Stage IV Colon Cancer, Steve put his music career on hold to become his primary caregiver. He created a fundraising initiative called VØID Cancer where he uses proceeds from every sale to create new programs for patients and caregiver. All in his father's honour. Connect with Steve (aka VØID) on Facebook.
About The Author

Steve (aka VØID)

Steve (aka VØID) is the owner and head Guitar Coach at Rockstar Mind. He is a self-taught guitarist for 20 years and a professional guitarist & Major label recording artist for 10 years (touring the world opening for and performing with big name acts such as KISS, Hinder, Finger Eleven, and Our Lady Peace). Most importantly, he has been coaching struggling guitarists for over 15 years to quickly overcome their playing obstacles and play their favourite songs on guitar. After his father was diagnosed with Stage IV Colon Cancer, Steve put his music career on hold to become his primary caregiver. He created a fundraising initiative called VØID Cancer where he uses proceeds from every sale to create new programs for patients and caregiver. All in his father's honour. Connect with Steve (aka VØID) on Facebook.