I was teaching several students today; Mondays are busy teaching days for myself. I have started noticing a trend among my best sight-reading students. They have so much confidence with reading notes, that they tend to "plow through" the music, struggling from measure to measure, but moving forward no matter what. This is a good habit to develop for concerts (to play through no matter what), but I find it is bad for practice.

Because I never developed great sight-reading skill, I could never read through to the end of a piece. I always had to learn measure by measure, stitching bars together, working on my transitions very carefully, memorizing all, until eventually I'd reach the end. By the time I reach the end, I could seamlessly play through a piece. But the key to being able to do this is working from a measure to measure mentality.

If a student is a great sight-reader, I allow him or her to try an entire piece once. But then, I advise only to work on passages, transitions, single bars, and the sections where the student displays weakness. After a portion is performed well, and the student attempts to continue, I always stop them, and force them to repeat the brief passage several times to develop muscle memory.

There's no rush. Work it out. Repeat.