I like students who are willing to try things outside of their comfort zones. Students who have perfectly honed contrapuntal, harmonic, orchestral and formal vocabularies often don’t like trying anything new – they’ve invested too much in what they already know. I’d rather have students who have been thrashing about in the dark for a while, stumbling on interesting ideas and finding their own ways to string them together. Those are the ones I can help, because they tend to be more curious about the big artistic issues.
Violinists start with technique, then focus on their artistry. I like young composers who start with an artistic vision, or even just a demonstrated hunger, then find the technique to realize their aspirations.