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Teaching Method



The initial learning curve for the violin is steeper than it is for most instruments. A high level of muscle co-ordination is required to control the bow. There are no keys or frets to show you where your fingers should go on the instrument. Some people find it difficult (in the beginning) to hold the instrument properly. For these reasons, many people give up on the violin early on. This is a shame, because the ones who do "tough it out" in the early stages, discover that playing the violin is a very unique and rewarding experience.

I do not use the Suzuki method. Although many teachers use it, the Suzuki method uses shortcuts, such as putting tape on the fingerboard and a simplified bow grip. These shortcuts produce faster results in the short term, but it creates huge gaps in their training. These gaps become problematic later on in the student's development, and it does not create a well rounded musician in the long term.

I utilize a more traditional approach to teaching violin, where the student focuses on their sense of touch and their sense of hearing to develop the "muscle memory" required to play in tune, and to produce a musical tone on the instrument. I have developed my own curriculum that I have refined over the past three decades. This method is based on the principles developed by Ivan Galamian, and expanded upon by Simon Fischer. Combined with lessons in basic music theory and ear training, the student will grow beyond practicing the rudiments into a thinking, feeling musician.


The first step is to understand how the human body works in relation to the violin. We discuss the physiology of the human hand, proper posture and the importance of staying as relaxed as possible. Far and away, the biggest problem I encounter as a violin teacher is getting my students to relax. Many students tend to grab onto the instrument, press down on the strings too hard, tense up their shoulders, etc. I devote a great deal of energy towards getting my students to use the least amount of effort possible to achieve their goals. I also teach the student about basic instrument care, the different parts of the instrument, and why they are important.


When it comes to learning the actual mechanics of the instrument, I focus on the right side of the body first, though a series of open string exercises. This teaches the student how to produce a musical tone, without having to worry about playing in tune. This also familiarizes the student with the sound of the open strings, which is their first lesson in ear training.


During this part of the process, I teach the student basic music theory, and the importance of being able to count while you play. I always use a metronome in class, and I make sure that the student uses a metronome when practicing at home. Not only does this help the student learn how to count, it also helps them to be able to control the bow at different speeds.


Once the student is able to read, count, and move the bow across all four strings at various speeds, I introduce the student to left hand technique by teaching them three basic scales, the A, D and G scales.  From a technical point of view, these scales are essentially the same scale, just played on different strings.


Now that the student has a fundamental understanding of the basic mechanics of the instrument, it is time to introduce the student to simple melodies. I start with songs that they are already familiar with, such as “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star” and “London Bridge”, so it is easier for them to apply the skills that they have developed so far.


  • Learn about the different parts of the violin and why they are important

  • Learn how to hold the instrument and bow

  • Learn how to move across the four strings of the violin

  • Learn basic music theory

  • Learn three basic scales (A, D and G) in one octave

  • Learn simple folk tunes, along with simple melodies from the Classical repertoire


At this point, many of the biggest challenges that the student will face have already been met. During this phase, I am reinforcing the rudiments that the student has learned, while building upon them in the form of increasingly complex scales, bowing methods, folk tunes and Classical melodies.


The student is also taught intermediate music theory, including intervals and chords. These are important skills to have if the student wishes to explore improvisation.


  • Learn how to play a scale in two octaves

  • Learn increasingly complex folk tunes and Classical melodies in the keys of A, D and G major.

  • Learn how to use the fourth finger of the left hand

  • Learn how to play while using more complicated bowings

  • Learn intermediate music theory



This part of the process covers the most territory, both musically and technically. For this reason, I have broken down this part into two sections.


“Beginner” Intermediate

At this point, the curriculum focuses exclusively on melodies from the Classical repertoire.


During this phase, the student learns about dynamics and articulations. These techniques require a much higher level of skill when handling the bow.


The student also learns to play in the other major keys, starting with the “sharp” keys. Along the way, I introduce the technique of “shifting” (moving the left hand up and down the neck of the instrument). I begin this process by teaching the student how to shift between first position and half position.


Once the student has achieved these goals, the next step is to learn to play in the “flat” keys, all of which utilize half position. During this phase, I teach the student how to shift between second, third and fourth position. Part of this process is learning how to play all major scales in two octaves. I also introduce double, triple and quadruple stops (playing two, three or four notes at the same time).


  • Learn how to play in all major keys

  • Learn music from the Classical repertoire

  • Learn about articulations (different ways of using the bow i.e. "slurring", "staccato", etc.)

  • Learn about dynamics (being able to play at different volumes)

  • Learn how to “shift” (moving the left hand up and down the neck of the instrument), starting with half position and moving up to fourth position

  • Learn how to play double, triple and quadruple stops


“Advanced” Intermediate

During this phase, I reinforce and expand upon everything the student has learned so far. I use this as a springboard to teach the student how to play in all of the minor keys, beginning with an introductory piece for each key, followed by more difficult ones.


During this process, the student learns how to move further up the neck of the violin, up to eighth position. I continue to build up the student's left hand technique by introducing three octave scales (using the Flesch fingering system), trills and vibrato.


I continue to draw upon melodies from the Classical repertoire, along with études from the standard teaching repertoire by composers such as Wohlfahrt, Sitt, Dont and Kreutzer.



  • Learn how to play in all minor keys

  • Learn how to play most scales in three octaves

  • Learn how to shift up to eighth position

  • Learn more complicated left hand techniques including trills and vibrato




At this point, the student has mastered most of the technical requirements of the instrument. The last phase of the student's development as a technician is learning to play all scales in three octaves, in addition to learning the scales that can be played in four octaves.


I begin to shift the focus away from the Classical repertoire, to other styles of music. Part of this process is developing the student's skills as an improviser. Improvisation is the ability to create and perform your own melodies, either as a soloist or within a musical ensemble. This skill is utilized in Jazz, Popular music and many forms of folk music, including Bluegrass.


I have extensive experience as an improviser. To develop this skill, I focus on advanced music theory, including harmony analysis and counterpoint. I also focus on ear training, rhythmic dictation and the ability to transcribe melodies. Additionally, I teach the student to play “non-standard” scales, such as the “church modes”, and the pentatonic, octatonic and blues scales.


I am also knowledgeable in the areas of Celtic, Bluegrass, Country, and Jewish music, should the student wish to learn any of those styles.



  • Learn how to play scales in four octaves

  • Learn how to play “non standard” scales i.e. the blues scale, the octatonic scale, etc.

  • Learn advanced music theory, harmony analysis and ear training

  • Learn how to transcribe melodies

  • Learn how to improvise

  • Learn how to play in other styles i.e. Jazz, Bluegrass, Celtic, Klezmer etc.


Once the student has completed this curriculum, the student is ready to perform in any capacity, ranging from a Symphony Orchestra to a Rock and Roll band.


Private Violin Lessons (1996 - Present)

One-on-one lessons with children and adults, covering basic to advanced violin technique, music theory & harmony, ear training, and improvisation.

Sweetest Sounds Music Center - Lyndhurst, NJ (2014 - Present)

One-on-one lessons with children and adults, covering basic to advanced violin technique, music theory & harmony, ear training, and improvisation.

Dan's Music Studio - West Orange, NJ (2014 - Present)

One-on-one lessons with children and adults, covering basic to advanced violin technique, music theory & harmony, ear training, and improvisation.

Shobo Music Academy - Cliffside Park, NJ (2016 - 2019)

One-on-one lessons with children and adults, covering basic to advanced violin technique, music theory & harmony, ear training, and improvisation.

The Josie Roberts School of Music at The Boys Club of New York  - NYC, NY (2008 - 2014)

One-on-one lessons with children ages 6 to 18, covering basic to advanced violin technique, music theory & harmony, ear training and improvisation. I helped my students get into many specialized schools, including the pre-college program at Julliard. I also trained small string ensembles that performed at Julliard, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Symphony Space and The Church of St. John’s The Divine (for The Clinton Foundation).

The Hoboken Charter School (2006 - 2009)

Taught basic violin technique and music theory to groups of 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th graders.

Workshops (2006 - 2009)

  • Taught workshops on the history of traditional American music with the band “Blue Harvest” at The Elgin Academy in Elgin, IL. (2006)

  • Taught a workshop on the history of traditional American music with the band “Blue Harvest” at The Brooklyn Children’s Museum in Brooklyn, NY. (2008)

  • Taught a workshop on the history of traditional American music with the band “Blue Harvest” at The Brooklyn Society For Ethical Culture in Brooklyn, NY. (2009)

A History of Irish Music (2012 - Present)

A show that combines music and history. This program was developed for the New York Public Library. This show has been performed at libraries throughout Manhattan and New Jersey.


Studied performance and composition at The Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College (1991 - 1996)


While at Queens College I studied Violin with Danny Phillips, Composition with Bruce Sailor and Thea Musgrave, Jazz Composition with Jimmy Heath and Roland Hanna, and Theory & Analysis with Henry Burnett.

Additional Education
  • Studied American/Bluegrass Violin for three Summers with Jay Ungar. (1982 - 1984)

  • Studied Jazz Violin/Composition for three Summers with Matt Glazer. (1982 - 1984)

  • Studied Cajun Violin for one Summer with Dewey Balfa. (1983)

  • Studied for two Summers at Northeast Music Camp on a Viola Scholarship. (1985 - 1986)

  • Studied for one semester at The Mannes School of Music (Pre-College Program) on a Viola Scholarship. (1987)

  • Studied for one Summer at Carnegie Mellon University with a concentration on Composition and Electronic Music. (1990)

Letters of Recommendation

From My Former Employers


His “Folk Fiddle” classes were very popular and provided an alternative to our conventional music program which is very brass oriented. In one trimester he was able to transform students with no exposure to the violin to performance level. This was quite amazing to witness!


As a teacher, Mr. Ferrari’s approach has proven highly effective, and I have witnessed the fruits of his labors repeatedly. For these and many other reasons, he is a respected colleague, deeply loved teacher, and someone that I would recommend to your program without reservation.


“S.K.” Duff

Artsbridge Coordinator/Arts Teacher

School-wide Director of Service Learning

Hoboken Charter School


I have found Clarence to be one of the most professional and caring youth development music teachers I have ever had the pleasure of working with. He’s not only a great teacher, but in addition he provides guidance to members, parents, and staff alike. His character is beyond reproach, his interpersonal skills are excellent, and he is a strong advocate for young music students havng been a young protégé himself, studying violin from the age of five.


Malcom Swisher

Music Education Director

Boys’ Club of New York


(Clarence) is always willing to give his time to help others, has an entertaining sense of humor, is a gentleman; and after having worked at BCNY 28 years, I can say that Clarence is one of the nicest people you could ever have the pleasure of knowing or working with.


Barbara Swenson

Music Education Administrator

Boys’ Club of New York

From The Parents Of My Students


My son started playing the violin without any previous training at the age of 6 years old and has chosen to continue this course of study. He is an active boy with a short attention span but I have observed during his weekly sessions, that Mr. Ferrari was able to keep him focused and enthusiastic about the violin.


He is passionate about teaching a wide variety of music and is extremely knowledgeable about music history and theory. He interweaves both these topics throughout the lessons to provide context and interest to the study. In addition, he focuses much of the instruction on the correct methods in playing violin to be sure that poor habits do not develop.


Lisa Jones


With his guidance, I have seen my son’s abilities grow while developing confidence in his skills. He is always eager to go to class and speaks highly of his musical mentor Mr. Ferrari, who not only focuses on getting the job done, but ensuring a nurturing learning atmosphere.


Dawn Ismael


My 7 year old, 10 year old and 14 year old sons all loved his lessons from the very beginning, connecting with his enthusiasm as well as his consistently positive approach.


Based on Mr. Ferrari’s extraordinary knowledge, skills and ability to teach effectively, there is no doubt in my mind that he is an outstanding teacher to children of all ages. I highly recommend Mr. Ferrari as a violin teacher for any adult or child who wishes to learn.


Chieko Shido

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