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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 uncomfortable (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, find out 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 they do not create a well rounded musician in the long term.


I utilize a more traditional approach to teaching violin, where the student uses their ears, eyes and mind to develop the "muscle memory" required to play in tune and produce a musical tone on the instrument. Combined with lessons in basic music theory and ear training, the student will grow beyond practicing the rudiments into a thinking, feeling musician.



• 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 in one octave

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




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


In addition, the student is 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, utilizing the three most commonly used keys (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



Now it's time to start learning the "fancy" stuff. This part of the process covers the most territory both musically and technically. At this point, the student transitions from folk tunes to Classical pieces.


During this phase, the student learns about dynamics and articulations. Both of these topics 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 concept 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 forth position. Part of this process is learning how to play most major scales in three octaves.


Once these goals have been met, the student learns to play in all of the minor keys, while learning to shift up to seventh position.



• Learn how to play in all major keys

• Learn music from the Classical repertoire

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

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

• 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 in all minor keys

• Learn how to play scales in three octaves

• Learn how to shift up to seventh position




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.


From this point on, the focus is on applying those techniques to other styles of music, while improving 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 theory, including harmony analysis and counterpoint, learning "church modes", learning non-standard scales (such as the pentatonic and blues scales), and ear training.


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 advanced music theory and harmony analysis

• 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 how to improvise

• Learn how to play in other styles i.e. Jazz, Klezmer, Celtic, 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 violin technique, music theory & harmony, ear training, and improvisation.

The Hoboken Charter School (2006 - 2009)

• Taught basic violin technique and music theory to groups of 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th graders at The Hoboken Charter School in Hoboken, NJ.

The Boys Club of New York (2008 - 2014)

• One-on-one lessons at The Boys Club of New York (Harriman Clubhouse) with children ranging in age from 6 to 18, covering basic violin technique, music theory & harmony, ear training, and improvisation.

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.


Bachelor of Music From 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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