Smart Hands And Minds

Smart Hands And Minds

4.9 (11)
2 hires on
1 employee
22 years in business

About this pro

All of my lessons are infused with creativity, structured spontaneity, and insights I've gleaned from reading widely about the subjects I teach.  For example, during Piano lessons, I frequently call upon Alexa to play recordings of a song the student is working. Another student appreciated my ability to enhance an arrangement, on the fly, while teaching her the techniques I employed to do it. I incorporate Chess lessons to help a student with dysgraphia complete his Langauge Arts homework and to help motivate a young student to practice piano.

To illustrate challenging Math concepts to elementary school students, I use apps, videos, and card and dice games, I researched in Math books and blogs.  I'm also looking into how incorporating movement, stretches, and excrcises in lessons can help stimulate creativity, problem-solving, and memory.    

Additionally, when a student doesn't understand something, I relentlessly search for the angle, approach, or method that helps them to see the light.  

I enjoy helping students of all ages to not only better understand and apply the material but also to instill in them a passion for learning so they become lifelong learners. 

I'm also invigorated by seeing the student's joy as they become more confident and adept with the material they're learning, as well as the dramatic improvements in grades and feedback they receive from their school teachers in many of their subjects -- not just the ones in which I’m tutoring them.  

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Oakland, CA 94612
Email verified
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11 Reviews


  • Rameez Shah

    Marshal is a great teacher. My son is getting home lessons and I am quite happy with his progress. Marshal understands my child and tries new techniques at his level. Marshal listens to my child and talks to him which makes it easier for him to learn. Marshal is a decent man who talks less but makes sure he is working hard. Would definitely recommend him!

  • Nicole K. Smith

    Marshal is not only a gifted musician but also highly skilled at teaching. Marshal infuses music theory into his lessons, helping me understand the meaning behind the notes. He also uses personalized techniques to help with proper hand placement and reading sheet music. As an adult student, I was nervous about picking up an instrument but Marshal customized his curriculum to my learning style, characteristics and ability, making my journey with the piano an enjoyable yet challenging experience! I've been working with Marshal for only a few months and I've made great strides in my ability to both read sheet music and play the piano. He's also very patient and highly personable! I highly recommend working with Marshal. Very excited for my future lessons and continued piano skills growth!

  • Cindy Goldberg

    Marshal is a fabulous teacher. I am 54 years old and learning piano for the first time. Marshal makes it fun, easy to understand and just challenging enough to keep me on my toes! I'm surprised by how much I have learned in only a handful of lessons.

  • Phuong-Mai Blasich

    My son had a unique school project, in that he was challenged to learn a new skill in a few months and document that journey. He decided to pick a complicated piano song to learn, despite having no prior musical experience. I knew that working with a talented and flexible instructor was going to be key to keeping him engaged with this project. I chose Marshal as a piano instructor due to his accomplished musical and educational background, and his willingness to experiment with a different teaching style. Ultimately, Marshal was the perfect choice, as he patiently and professionally worked with my son through his many moods and incessant questions, even with doing lessons over Zoom. My son got an A+ on his project, and is continues to be interested in piano lessons even though his project is over. I don't think that's a very easy feat for a teacher to keep an active kid engaged to learn the piano. Our family enjoys working with Marshal and really appreciates his intelligence and openness. If you are looking for a smart, skilled and flexible piano instructor, give Marshal a call or drop him an email!

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What is your typical process for working with a new student?

I ask their parents and them what are their goals for working with me, what are their favorite subjects and activities, and how they enjoy learning (i.e. reading, working through questions, watching videos, computer games). 

I also ask how much homework they have, in order to avoid overburdening them in an already challenging learning environment. 

What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?

I hold a BA in History from Yale College, and an MS/MBA from Purdue.  I  have earned certificates in jazz piano and songwriting from the Dick Grove School of Music, along with a teaching certificate from Kaplan in Math and English.  

To further enrich students' learning experiences, I've completed 10 courses in Psychology, including Developmental Psychology.

Do you have a standard pricing system for your lessons? If so, please share the details here.

Pricing is on a case-by-case basis, which depends primarily on frequency and location of sessions.

How did you get started teaching?

I began tutoring in high school when the academic dean asked me to help his daughter with Math. My Freshman year in college I taught underprivileged students at a public high school in New Haven, CT.

After graduating from music school, I began offering private piano lessons to grade and high school students, in addition to substitute teaching English and Music classes at a private school in Hillsborough.  

What types of students have you worked with?

I have worked with students of all diverse ages and proficiency with English-- ranging from 7 to 75 years of age;  ESL to native speakers in English. 

Most of my piano students have ranged from beginner to intermediate levels.

What advice would you give a student looking to hire a teacher in your area of expertise?

Select a teacher whose personality meshes with yours (i.e. laid back, serious, or detail-oriented)

Try to figure out if the teacher seems interested in your progress, and isn't just teaching to supplement their income. 

What questions should students think through before talking to teachers about their needs?

How much time they are able to commit to practicing? 

Why do they want to learn how to play the piano (to play for themselves or friends and family; play in a band; or, to keep busy)

Why are they choosing piano, as opposed to guitar, drums, violin, or singing? 

What styles do they like to listen to and/or what style would they like to play?