Between the notes

Those that know me “musically” have, at one time or another, heard me say, “The real music is in the space between the notes.”   I can’t take total credit for the quote.  I heard or read something similar Wandering in the space between notesseveral years ago.  I don’t remember when, where, or who I got it from, but I decided to take it as my personal musical philosophy.

What exactly does it mean? 

Well, to me it means the time, and the thought(s) that come to mind, when you are taking in and enjoying what you just heard, and anticipating what marvelous sound might come next.  It could be the micro-second between two individual notes, the short time that a quarter or half rest takes between musical phrases or the time when you are waiting for the next piece of music to begin.  It could be a riff from your favorite song, or something you’ve never heard before. 

You could even be quietly lying in bed and a song you heard days ago comes to mind and you might wonder what the artist will come up with next.  The point is that whether you are playing an instrument or just listening, you are not fully appreciating the music unless you are able to absorb both the notes and the spaces.

I hope that today you are blessed with the ability to experience some “spaces between  the notes”.



Winter “snow song” contest

Early this morning, I looked out the window and saw the snow covered ground and immediately thought of four songs about “winter” or “snow”. They are usually considered Christmas songs, but say nothing about Christmas.  So, I decided to have some fun with it and run a contest. 

Here are the details of my winter “snow song” contest:

The rules are simple:  Guess all four of the non-Christmas, winter “snow songs” that I thought of this morning and send me your list.

I will give a FREE introductory guitar or keyboard/piano lesson (right now a $20 value) to the first five people (or someone of their choosing*) who contact me with the names of the correct four songs. The recipients of the free lesson must live in or near my normal travel area

Send your guesses to  The winners will be notified by e-mail.

I will post the names of the five winners to my Facebook page as they come in and the names of the correct four songs once the last winner is named.  If you “like” my page you will be able to see the results as they are posted.

Happy guessing, and have a safe, fun, music filled snow day.




*More than one winner may not assign their prize to any one student.  Students using the free lesson must have their own instrument and be approved by Clayton (ex. children must be old enough to participate effectively in the lesson).

Where’s the best place to get a musical instrument?

There are many music stores out there, it can all get quite confusing. The stores I like to visit also have websites which allow for browsing online and price shopping before you ever hit the store.  In the past year I have purchased instruments or accessories at Guitar Center in Towson, Music & Arts in Timonium, Best Buy and Music Go Round in Cockeysville, as well as the online store – Musician’s Friend.  I have also found some good stuff at Bill’s Music House in Catonsville in the past. 

My advice is to research and visit as many stores as possible to find the store or stores that you like best.  See who has the most knowledgable salespeople in order to effectively answer all of your questions but who will also give you space long enough to try out a few different instruments. 

Compare prices.  An instrument is something that you will likely have for a long time, maybe the rest of your life, so you don’t want to rush into it.  If you think someone is planning to give you one as a gift, let them know that it’s a very personal item and send them a link to the exact model that you want or at least the model number.  They will be happy that they’ve given you one that you’ll love.  Even better…gift certificates! 

If you find a music store that you really like, let me and my readers know so we can check it out, too.  Send e-mails to Have a very musical day.



Choose music you love.

In my opinion, enjoying the music you are being taught is essential to a good relationship between you and the musical instrument you are playing.  Learning music from a standard lesson book, while it may help you learn the basics, can get boring and cause you to lose interest in the lesson, your teacher, and eventually the instrument.  That’s why, from the very beginning, I have my students tell me a few songs or pieces of music that they would like to learn.  Even as a beginner, you can learn the basics while playing songs you like.

I hope you are all blessed today by enjoying the music at your finger tips.



Frequently Asked Questions


This is Clayton, The Wandering Musician.  I wanted to take a few minutes to answer a couple of frequently asked questions that new or prospective new students often have.  If you have questions that you’d like to see answered here on my blog, just send an e-mail to

What’s a good age to start learning guitar or keyboard?

That’s different for everyone.  I started guitar at age 9, but I knew a man who didn’t start until he was in his 50’s.  I played in my first band at age 11 and didn’t pick up the keyboard until my 20’s.  There were a few other instruments that I threw in along the way, including banjo, bass guitar and ukulele.  My personal opinion is that you should be at least 7 or 8 years old.  There are a couple of reasons for this – first, because children younger than that tend to have a hard time focusing long enough to really benefit from the lessons.  Also, little fingers find it hard to stretch as needed to reach the strings or keys.  That being said, there are exceptions to any rule.  Whatever your age, if you feel that a certain instrument is the one for you, go for it.  The worst that can happen is that you find out it’s not for you and you move on to something else.  And maybe you’ll come back to it later.  In the meantime, you’ll at least pick up some basic musical skills that may be helpful in the future.

What kind of guitar should I get to start?

There are some who stand by the electric.  I personally think that it’s better to start learning on an acoustic.  The string tension will help build up your fingertips faster, and electrics have a tendency to go out of tune more quickly, especially if you use light gauge strings.  Also, with an acoustic, you don’t have to worry about plugging in or carrying an amp around with you.  Of course you can always get an acoustic with a built in pickup and get the best of both worlds.  Whichever you choose, try out a few different models to see what feels right for you.  If you’re not sure it’s something you’re going to stick with, it might be a good idea to borrow one in the beginning – if you have a relative or friend who will lend one to you.  If not, look around for a place that rents musical instruments(some will rent with the option to buy later).  If you are a beginner and decide you want to buy right away, try not to go for the cheapest, the sound quality won’t be good and that can be very discouraging.  Make sure you get the right size, especially for children.  They can help you figure that out at the store.

That’s all from me for now, but if you need a guitar, keyboard, banjo or bass guitar or ukulele teacher or if you just have a question about learning to play an instrument, you can reach me at