Midwest Raised, Globally Influenced


Hello to you! My name is Clayton Ryan, and as someone that has played music since the age of five, I have plenty of stories I could tell you about how impactful and important it has been in my life. I could tell you all about my first gigs playing blues guitar for the neighborhood during summer cookouts. I could tell you about the friends and memories made playing in symphony orchestras both in the heartland and in other countries. Maybe you’d want to hear about playing for thousands of people in a touring country band,

while still having time to play jazz at a local club?

 Music is so important to our story as people; some say necessary. 

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I received my education in jazz and classical bass and guitar and political science at The University of

Northern Iowa. It was here that I earned my degree in music performance, theory, and history while learning from world-renowned artists. I played in UNI's prestigious Jazz Band One, jazz combos, musical pits - for both UNI Theatre and professionally across the state - and was principal in several symphony orchestras in Iowa. I also performed as a solo folk artist, toured in a rock and roll band, and worked as a stagehand and ambassador for the school as well. 

My instructor was Dr. Alexander Pershounin, a master of the bass that has performed with artists like Ray Charles, Yo-Yo Ma, Benny Golson, and Itzhak Perlman. Not only does he continue to serve as role model for the instrument, but as a teacher of living a rich, joyful life. This attention to students serves as my template for success. 

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  • UNI Music Scholarship Recipient (2014-2015)

  • Principal, Northern Iowa Symphony Orchestra (2016-2019)

  • Principal, Oneota Valley Orchestra (2017-2019)

  • Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony Orchestra (2017-2019)

  • Black Hills Symphony Orchestra (2020-Current)

  • UNI Jazz Band One (2017-2018)

  • Chad Elliott & The Redemptions (2018-2021)

  • Brandon Jones Band (2020-Current)

  • Private Instructor (2017-Current)


  • UNI Music Scholarship Recipient (2014-2015)

  • Northern Iowa Guitar Choir (2014-2015)

  • UNI Jazz Band III (2014-2016)

  • Studied with Robert Dunn, Kurt Rosenwinkel, and Daniel Wolff

  • Brandon Jones Band (2020)

  • Trained in classical, fingerstyle, flatpicking, jazz, and slide technique

Along with my primary focus on guitar and bass, I have done session work as a drummer, trumpet, and piano player, including live and studio performances. These skills were also learned and refined through faculty at The University of Northern Iowa. 

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I realize how important it is for a student to have tangible signs of their improvement. The perfect balance of knowledge, skill, and real-world application gives students both the tools and excitement to continue music. For this reason, I divide my lessons into THREE equal points of focus:

1. TECHNIQUE: We will focus on creating neurological connections between the brain and the body. Whether it’s using a bow on your cello or picking the guitar, the student will be able to see how the mechanics of their hands work to make music, while preserving their health and improving motor skills in everyday life!


2. THEORY: The word “theory” sounds scary, and as someone who had little knowledge of it when entering college, I sympathize! However, music theory is often nothing more than simple math and sound disguised as something far more complex. We will focus on music theory that makes scales, key signatures, reading music, and improvising more intuitive and fun and less like homework.


3. PERFORMANCE: The best part of playing music is … well… playing! We will end every lesson with a focus on performance. This could mean jamming together on an assigned tune, working on an original song by the student, or training in stage and performance etiquette. The goal is to provide every student with a public performance opportunity throughout the year, and to give students the tools to start defining their own career.

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It's never too early or too late to hone your skills and passion for music.

As someone who has seen it from all angles, I can assure you that we can find your own slice of peace in the music world. 


$30 per half hour lesson

$50 per hour lesson

Want to save a little? Pay for a whole month at once and get a discount!

$100 for one month of half hour lessons 

$180 for one month of hour lessons

+once a week for all rates unless arranged for more

To schedule lessons or for more information, drop me a line on my contact page!

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