Take a look at Seth’s Blog, by Seth Godin, sometime – his posts are short and sweet, almost minimalist. Even though he’s a quick read, he often poses intriguing, question-your-assumptions thoughts!
Recently, Godin tells of sometimes fooling his clarinet teacher with his sightreading prowess, but never really developing and progressing. (From there he moves on to interviews and first dates, but I’ll let you read it yourself, here!
I’m a good sightreader. This skill is very handy (and probably essential for organists), and I’m really glad I have it.
But it’s also something of a mixed blessing: if you get a decent rendition the first or second time you try a piece, it’s hard to have the self-discipline to do sustained and systematic work on it afterward, rather than moving on to another piece.
Long ago a colleague described another mutual colleague to me as also an excellent sightreader, “but that’s about as good as it ever gets.”
Some good sightreaders can get away with not practicing all that much, especially between lessons (case in point: Seth!). That’s probably the great danger of good sightreading ability—and I’ve been as guilty as much as anybody! Whether or not one is a good sightreader (quick study, fast reader, etc.), the better way for the long term is the concept of kaizen, used by Toyota and others—incremental small improvements, moving towards and eventually arriving at the goal.
You know, like the tortoise and the hare! Great things usually take time, and more than one brief and quick encounter, to fully appreciate.