Nicely put, William. I’m with you. It wasn’t always this way though. When I first began, I would play only the songs that sounded familiar me. And back when I took piano lessons, I would play the pieces that I liked repeatedly until memorized. I thought I was good at piano doing it that way. Unfortunately, it did come to bite me in behind. When my piano teacher would stop me for a correction, then ask me to start again…I couldn’t do it. I had no idea where I was in the piece because I had memorized it instead of actually learning the notes and their values. Now, as an adult taking violin lessons, I approach my practice sessions much differently. I told my violin teacher that I wanted to learn to READ the music, not memorize it. Not that memorization is bad, but in my case it had become a huge crutch that actually hindered my learning.
As William stated, I focus on one technique at a time, breaking down my pieces into bite-size chunks. A goal I set for myself when learning a new piece is to learn just one line each day and continue to build on it. I also spent 10 minutes on just scales, and now I’m adding etudes. My practice sessions are becoming longer, but I’m loving it because I’m actually learning the music the way I should have 30 years ago AND I’m learning another instrument. Efficient practice makes for steady progress!