The Strad attended a masterclass with the American violinist in 2015 and took down these practical pointers
1. Alternate styles. If you’re practising a lot of Romantic music, work on Mozart to keep your clarity; if your focus is on Classical, play Massenet’s Méditation to remind yourself how to do Romantic vibrato, rubato and slides
2. Compose your own cadenza, even if it isn’t very good. The experience will help to give you a greater understanding of the composer’s writing, and you will notice things you hadn’t before
3. Memorisation isn’t just about learning the notes. If you haven’t committed all the markings to memory too, you still have a lot of work to do
4. Push the boundaries. What is the biggest accent or glissando you can get away with before it starts to sound ridiculous? Find your (and your instrument’s) limits. You may be surprised
5. Piano reductions may remove important harmonies and cues played by the orchestra. Familiarise yourself with the orchestral parts as well
6. Pizzicato tone needs work. You spend so much time practising sound production with the bow, but when was the last time you thought about it for pizz?
7. Record yourself to check intonation in two different ways. Firstly, play while thinking about intonation and being careful. Then play in performance mode, thinking about musicality above technique, and see what changes
8. Shift at a constant speed. This will help you to measure distance more reliably. Practise big shifts ten times correctly in a row, to make sure the action is really engrained
9. Never do something just because a top soloist does it. They have bad habits too, but they have no one to keep them in check. Perhaps their playing would be even better if they didn’t do those things
10. Rests are as much a part of the music as notes. Think about whether they belong to the notes preceding them or following them, how they affect the flow of the music, and how to interpret them.
A version of this article first appeared alongside a focus in the November 2015 issue of The Strad on the Domaine Forget Academy in Quebec