Teaching Method

For Beginners

The initial learning curve for the violin is steeper than it is for most instruments. This is due, in large part, to the level of muscle co-ordination required to control the bow, combined with the fact that you don't have any keys or frets to show you where your fingers should go on the instrument. Many people also find it uncomfortable (in the beginning) to hold the instrument properly. Because of this, a lot of 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 better 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 a simple folk tune

For Novices

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)
• Learn how to use the fourth finger of the left hand
• Learn how to play while using more complicated bowings
• Learn intermediate music theory

For Intermediates

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 hand up and down the neck of the instrument). I begin 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 articulation (different ways of using the bow i.e. bouncing, etc.)
• Learn how to “shift” (moving the 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

For Advanced

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.

©Copyright 2008 - 2014 Clarence Ferrari