Be a musician first and be a violinist second
I would tell myself to be creative but smart when choosing fingerings and bowings. If something doesn’t work after a couple of times during a practice session, it’s better to come up with an alternative. We all have different capabilities, so I’d advise myself to use my strengths to get as close to the composer’s wishes as I possibly could.
I’d also tell myself to practise hard, but with real musical intent. Even when working with a metronome, it’s important to play beautifully and to learn how best to phrase while also working on technical perfection.
There are lots of wonderful violinists, but not many that really speak to the composer’s musical direction. Be a musician first and a violinist second.
Ani Kavafian is a tutor on the Juilliard School’s Starling–DeLay Symposium for Violin Studies, from 28 May–1 June