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Deborah Marcus Piano Studio

San Luis Obispo, CA 94301 (map)

Lessons Offered


Where are Lessons Offered

In Teacher Studio

About Me

To find the most extensive information about me and my teaching, go to (contact me). I am a classically trained musician/pianist/cellist/accompanist, and teacher. What gives me the most pleasure and satisfaction in my work is when I am able to enrich my students’ lives by helping them develop an appreciation for music and the skills to experience the joys of music-making first-hand. My students have ranged in age from 41/2 to 78 years, each with different needs and ways of approaching the learning tasks at hand, requiring flexibility and understanding from their teacher.

I consider those qualities to be my particular strengths, based in part from a background in psychology, and my experiences in raising three wonderful children.

In addition to my degrees in music, I have a master’s degree in social work and for several years did clinical work with families and children as a therapist (LCSW – Licensed Clinical Social Worker). However, music has always been the first love and passion in my life, so I found my way back to a career in music by developing the skills to become a good teacher.

I have had some children come to me with a variety of issues that affected their ability to get the most from their learning experience with music and other subjects; such as extreme shyness, difficulties in focusing and lack of confidence. I have seen students blossom over time and develop relationships with me that really enhanced their enjoyment of learning music, built self-confidence and made lesson time a lot of fun.

Although my favorite music is classical, I use any form of good music that will excite and challenge my students, whether it’s classical, jazz, or popular music. Because I also play an orchestral instrument, the cello, and have had experience playing in community orchestras, I am able to enhance my students’ musical appreciation by expanding their knowledge of music beyond the piano alone.

When a beginner plays a very simplified version of “Ode to Joy”; the theme from the 4th movement of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, I play an excerpt of the original for them from a CD which I may lend to them. I have a collection of excellent CDs for children called “Classical Kids” with intriguing stories based on the lives of major composers with lots of good music in the background which I lend to my students as well.

During the school year I go into the San Luis Obispo County Schools as a presenter for the San Luis Obispo Symphony, introducing students to the different groups of orchestral instruments, giving them an opportunity to understand how the sounds of these varied instruments are produced, and most beloved of all, to have the chance to try out these instruments themselves as part of the program. I have also accompanied and performed with young students from the San Luis Obispo Youth Symphony.

Another of the very special pleasures in my teaching career has come from working with my adult students who are varied in so many interesting ways; previous experiences in musical training from beginner to advanced; ages, taste in music, to name a few. I have made some wonderful friends in the process, and teaching them has only improved my own playing as I endeavor to effectively communicate to them how to improve their own playing.

My Musical Education Background

M.A. in Music Performance from Montclair State University (2004)
M.S.W. – Adelphi University School of Social Work (1973)
B.A. – Psychology, New York University (1971)
Oberlin Conservatory of Music and Oberlin College, Music (1966-69)

Lesson Rates

Lesson tuition is charged on a monthly basis. Fees are standard for the area.

There is no charge for periodic weekend group classes and two recitals per year; winter and spring.

Ages / Skill Levels Taught

Adults of all ages and children from age 4 1/2 (subject to
evaluation as to readiness at this age), and all ages beyond.

My Musical Influences

Excellent pianists such as Artur Rubinstein, Vladimir Horowitz, Daniel Barenboim and Yvgeny Kissin. Leonard Bernstein and his famous concerts for children. Several teachers throughout my childhood and young adulthood who conveyed the excitement of piano literature as well as the experience of playing in orchestras as a cellist.

Service Area

Student Reviews

San Luis Obispo, CA

I have known Deborah for about four years and have interacted with her as a musician in several ways. Deborah and I have performed recitals together, my instrument being French horn. She accompanies some of the Youth Symphony performers on recitals. And I am aware of one Youth Symphony cellist who related to Deborah so well that he decided to also study piano and music theory with her. Deborah is respectful of both adults and students, and greets everyone with a big smile. She is a good listener and willing to be flexible as needed in order to achieve the common goal. I recommend Ms. Marcus as a teacher of piano and theory without reservation. - Jane Swanson (Principal French horn – San Luis Obispo Symphony)

San Luis Obispo, CA

I met Deborah Marcus three years ago soon after her move to San Luis Obispo. I have taken a piano lesson each week during this three year interim so know her well. There are many qualities that make Deborah an exceptional piano teacher. Firstly, taking piano lessons has been part of an extended music education including music theory, discussions of the different music genres and listening to many professional performances of a selection to appreciate the varied interpretations of a given piece. Secondly, practice methodology is stressed to avoid tedium, to render faster mastery of a passage and therefore more personal gratification and thus more motivation. She has developed many practice techniques to help work on difficult sections. She will often use very descriptive words to clarify the mood of the music. She plays very well herself so will demonstrate how a passage should sound which helps significantly with timing rhythm and mood.

San Luis Obispo, CA

Deborah is a fantastic teacher. I had been looking for an appropriate teacher for my daughter Sophia for a few years and not found one. Then Deborah came to town and we gave her a try. She is fabulous. My daughter has learned so much more than I expected. Having taken piano lessons myself as a child, I would have been so much more inspired had I had a teacher like Deborah. --------- Barbara J. Gilbert, Ph.D.Training Coordinator and Licensed Psychologist ; Chair, Status of Women Committee

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