Lick Your Chops
The key to unlocking great technique is to find the fingerings that work best for you. Some players who are having issues playing clean and fast (with blocking proper note values) get hung up on the misconception that fast players “must be using another fingering”. I believe it’s always good to try other fingerings out during practice time, as the fingerings that I use depend on what strings are played before and after those four strings.
Mind Over Matter
I have found a place of comfort so that my muscle memory can take whichever digit to wherever it is needed for the lick at hand. The mind is trained better for accuracy at slower tempos. “Slow and Precise” picking and never moving to another tempo until everything is blocked precisely and cleanly is exactly what I do. I rarely practice anything faster than quarter notes at 90 bpm on a metronome.
My speed comes from my mind, not my hands. Once your hands are trained to accomplish clean and precise blocking at tempo, the blocking technique becomes the vehicle. Now your mind is free to drive the vehicle wherever the journey goes. Its the mind that misses strings or blocks due to (A) Practicing incorrectly and (B) Lack of muscle memory for locating the notes….That is it!
Watch a beginner swinging at a pitch compared to someone who has played the game regularly. The beginner’s bat is all over the place and rarely connects with the ball. Steel players who don’t practice this stuff often face a frustrating reality when their technique can’t handle faster tempos on the bandstand. Spend your practice time working slowly and perfectly and the speed will come with the knowledge of the instrument.
(adapted from a post on the Paul Franklin Method private Facebook Group)