Music Motive Locations

Written by: Darren Johnson

As an instructor at Music Motive, I frequently get asked about our studios and their locations. For anyone who has been wanting more information on this topic, look no further! This article will serve as your all-inclusive guide.


Music Motive has studios in four locations; San Luis Obispo, Arroyo Grande, Templeton/Paso, and Nipomo.

SLO.5San Luis Obispo: This is the heart of the Music Motive studios, located at 3440 S. Higuera Street #130. Not only are there a multitude of studio rooms for private lessons here, but it’s a store with music accessories too! As if that didn’t make it cool enough already, the showroom there is the placeholder of many Music Motive events, such as the Band Jam, Student Spotlight, and the studio where the Bucket Busters rehearse.

unnamed (2)Arroyo Grande: The newest location of the Music Motive studios can be found on 1115 E. Grand Ave (next to Donna’s Interiors). It’s been converted from an old house into a private lesson studio with three studio rooms. The whole place has a really nice feel. It also has a sweet avocado tree in the back yard! What more could you ask for?

PASO.2Templeton/Paso: This studio is located at 130 Easy Street #5. This studio has a huge main room, big enough that you could do cartwheels all over the place (I won’t judge). There are also two studio rooms for private lessons; I particularly like the sound of the drum kits at this studio.

Nipomo: The quaint Nipomo studio is at 338A W. Tefft Street. This is the smallest of the four studios and has nice vibes. It has two studio rooms for private lessons. I’ve also recently heard from our director Steve Hilstein that Nipomo has the most consistent weather in the United States. Go Nipomo!

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So there you have it, all of the key information needed to know which studio caters to your specific where-a-bouts. Feel free to sign up for lessons at any location on our website, call us at 805-543-0377, or drop by our San Luis Obispo studio to register, pick up a set of strings, or play with our puppy!



“To the Drum Competition,” a Message from Steve

This Sunday marks the 24th annual Drum Circuit Drum Competition. For the first time in 24 years, I cannot be there. A few weeks ago I realized that a gig would take me out of town on the same day. I was very disappointed, to say the least.

From it’s beginning in 1990, the drum competition has developed a life of it’s own. It’s a celebration of drummers coming together to cheer and encourage one another, an uncommon camaraderie—musicianship at its finest.

The drum competition will always be, to me personally, one of my greatest achievements. I think about all the lives this annual event has inspired and encouraged, and all the people who helped and gave their support along the way. I’m pleased that the competition has continued under the direction of Howard Emmons. Howard, I wish you and the Drum Circuit staff all the best this Sunday, April 28th.

To all the competing drummers, young and old—those who have been preparing for this day—I say to you, do your best, encourage one another, and don’t take yourselves too seriously. Most importantly, have fun as you partake in history this Sunday at the drum competition.

Cheering from afar,

Steve Hilstein

Get Started-Steven Saavedra



Every so often, we highlight a student in our Get Started-Go Further video series. This month, we’re very pleased to feature Steven Saavedra. Steven is a great student; he is motivated by the drums, the piano, and the washboard.

Steven has been taking lessons with Music Motive for over a year. Both of his teachers (yes, he is studying two instruments!) can attest to his strong and dedicative character. His drum teacher, Micah Grogg, said this: “Steven is one of the nicest, most positive kids I have ever met. He is a great all-around musician and it is a pleasure to work with him.”

You may have seen Steven with his band, The Crustacea Jazz Band, out at the SLO Farmer’s Market.

That’s enough from me; I’ll let Steven do the talking. Check out his brand new video now!

Click here to see our past Get Started-Go Further videos.

Music Motive Returns to SLO Farmers Market

Thursday, March 21st, Music Motive will be back at the SLO Farmers Market for another great performance. Last time, the Bucket Busters performed a feast of percussion sounds and fired up the crowd; this time, we’ll be showing off a different facet of our musical family—the acoustic singer/songwriter.

Two of our instructors, Steve Ambarian and Devin Welsh, will be performing separate sets filled of originals, covers, and maybe a couple surprises.

I talked to each songwriter to get the scoop on the show, as well as to hear about their recent inspirations.

Steve Ambarian

P7140025You’ve built quite the reputation around town for your ukulele, will the majority of your songs be ukulele based? 

No, not really. I’ve been trying to balance out my material with a more guitar driven sound.

What material will you be drawing from? Originals, covers? What can we expect?

Mostly originals. I’m working on a new album right now—probably an EP of originals. A lot of guitar driven, 60’s rock and that sort of thing. Tomorrow night I’ll be pulling from those among some older ones and maybe a couple covers. Continue reading

Local Talent, Little Theatre, Big Punch

Watergate CastRecently, I attended the musical, Watergate and Other Solid Gold Hits at the SLO Little Theatre. Written by David Vienna and directed by Kevin Harris, this 70’s rock, anthem-driven, funk-filled, politically-charged musical is everything you want it to be and more.

Going in, I must admit I was slightly skeptical. The narrative is developed and influenced by a wide array of musical numbers from the 70’s. Knowing before hand that over thirty songs were to be performed, I wondered if the Little Theatre bit off a little more than they could chew.

Glad to be proven wrong, the cast was brilliant and the band was on fire. The two leads, Marcus DiMaggio as Washington D.C. newcomer Charlie Memphis, and Kerry DiMaggio as Jane Isley, a political organizer with a conscious, set the tone for the evening with strong voices and believable performances. A memorable highlight for Kerry DiMaggio was her rendition of Queen’s “Somebody to Love,” who absolutely hit it out of the park. Continue reading

Beats on the Streets: The Bucket Busters Rock SLO Farmers Market!

541508_473283786059909_1841268542_nLast Thursday night, Music Motive’s own percussion-performance group, the Bucket Busters, gave another legendary performance downtown at the SLO Farmers Market. A favorite of the market, the group raises scholarship money for those who may not be able to afford music lessons.

Commanding one of the largest audiences in recent Farmers Market memory, the Busters delivered their first show of the year—and one of their best ever. Children and parents danced in the streets, while others simply listened in awe as the bustling troop of entertainers gave it their all.

The evening began with an appearance from the Bucketeers (click HERE for more information about our Music Enrichment Classes). Eager students from every direction of SLO County showed up to perform for parents, friends, and strangers. Buster leader and Bucketeers teacher, Micah Grogg, led the kids in a performance of the “Bucketeers Song.” All we can say is, wow! We’re proud of you guys. Way to go Bucketeers! Continue reading

SLO Symphony and Music Motive Bringing the Arts Back to Schools


           The Bucketeers!

Both Music Motive and SLO Symphony have been leading the charge of bringing music back to schools. Currently, Music Motive offers over twenty Music Enrichment Classes across SLO County elementary schools, ranging from guitar, glee (singing class), ukulele, to even the Bucketeers!

SLO Symphony offers great programs as well: Strings in the Schools, the Music Van, the SLO Youth Symphony. There is no doubt the Symphony holds a strong dedication of keeping music education alive in the community. Continue reading

Music Motive Director, Steve Hilstein, Celebrates Local Milestone

steveThis February marks a very special anniversary for Music Motive Director and Founder, Steve Hilstein. Steve has been teaching music in SLO County for over thirty years and February 2nd marks his twenty fifth anniversary of opening his first drum shop, The Drum Circuit. Recently, I sat down with Steve to reflect upon his journey so far: 


What prompted you to teach drums? Was this always the plan?

From an early age, I always had an understanding that if I were to work forty or more hours a week, I had better enjoy what I was doing and not allow the wage amount to determine my career. There was a brief consideration of pursuing a “sure thing” that could pull in a steady paycheck with medical insurance and vacation pay, but my heart was telling me otherwise.

Specifically though, a friend suggested I teach drums to people who wanted to learn how to play, and with that, I’d earn income. I had never considered it before, but I thought, why not? Continue reading