Emblem Academy Blog for Parents

Dear Parents,

Welcome to your Report Blog!

Here you will learn about all that we have covered with your wonderful children during the program.


For guitar students:  they learned the notes on the E string:  open note, 3rd, 5th and 7th notes.  They learned to play Rain, rain go away and hot cross buns.

For piano students:  they learned to play the songs in the book pages 3 -7.

All students learned to identify 4 types of musical notes and their value.  They also learned what a staff is and how line and space notes looks like on the staff.

Teacher Maribel


PIANO/KEYBOARD & VOICE FALL 2018 REPORT: This fall at Emblem Academy, the younger students and I had a great time singing and learning the keyboard. The keyboard students were introduced to a few familiar melodies and how to play them, and the singers developed confidence in their voices with traditional and popular songs like "Amazing Grace" and "Shake it Off." In the older age group, we did more in-depth work on the keyboard. We not only learned melodies, but simple accompaniments and harmony. We did some ensemble playing as well, with our class culminating in a keyboard quintet rendition of "Jingle Bells.

GUITAR PROGRAM FALL 2018 REPORT: In this trimester, we worked with two groups of different ages using Oksana's guitar book. First lessons are all about introducing the instrument itself, the proper way to hold it, types of guitar playing, styles of picking and the corresponding notes for each string. After introductory lessons, we moved forward on songs in the book.Songs are really helpful in the journey of learning.During the trimester we learned together "Rain rain go away" , "Hot cross buns" , " Twinkle twinkle little star" and this month the kids asked me for a Christmas song, so I taught them "Jingle bells". Considering the ages and grades, younger and older students, we have different timings of learning , so to make sure everybody had equal understanding of the program, on the last class of each group we had a simple check on the songs individually, and the students played them all very well. That was it for the trimester, I'm really thankful for the chance to pass on the gift of Music to new students every year. Thank you. Teacher Bruno.


MAY 30th 2018 -- PIANO -- This was our final class of the semester, so each student did a review of what they learned this semester. For students who elected to perform in the upcoming recital, we finalized their song choice and played the song 10 times to make sure it is recital-ready. As for the rest of the students, they reviewed the song they played last time then proceeded to play the next one. They also got to review their favorite songs that they learned so far this semester. All students have made a great amount of progress, and we hope to see them in class next school year or in private lessons to continue their musical development.

MAY 30  - GUITAR -- Session starts with checking progress on past lessons, reviewing everything we saw so far, since it was our last class before Summer break. We went through the chord G combined  to other melodies, then individually checked now good they were doing with the songs that we saw on the book during the whole program. In the end we played " Happy birthday to you" together, with all guitars playing the same notes as if we were performing. Everybody had a lot of fun with this part of class. End of session, helped them all pack their guitars up, and headed out all together.

5/23/18: Piano Class  - Today the students' assignment was to play the song they learned last time for 3 solid repetitions, then proceed to the next one. The young students and beginners are getting much better at being able to look at the notes in the book and find the correct keys on the keyboard with only a small amount of guidance. The students occasionally struggle to differentiate the higher and lower octaves of each note, but they are gradually improving this skill. We emphasize the aspect of using your ear in addition to your eyes and fingers to be able to play the songs well. Students are also improving at their fluidity of playing melodies. The most advanced couple of students are also practicing some technical drills to improve their fluency in the C major hand position. Overall, the students are in good progress.

May 23 - GUITAR --Session starts with running some of the guitars quickly, then reviewing last song. This time, they are all playing Twinkle twinkle little star really well, so I extended the happy birthday to you lesson to everyone. They were excited with the new song, and they seemed to be having fun with it. For the rest  of the session, we just focused on finishing this song melody, since it was their first time playing it all together. End of session, we all headed out together.

May 16th - GUITAR -- Session started with reviewing previous song " Twinkle twinkle little star". This time one of the students brought another guitar from home, so I had to tune it. Then we moved forward with another chord in the book, we 're going for "C" this time. Everybody taking their time with this one, since it's their first trial, but they all seemed pretty excited with the new lesson. Two students also asked me to teach them "Happy birthday to you" so we spent some time on that too.  End of session we all headed out together.

5/16/18: Piano Class - As usual, students began by reviewing the song they played last time 3-5 times, then proceeding onto the next. Today we emphasized proper finger placement for all levels, to teach them that they can use all 5 fingers instead of just their pointer fingers. This allows them to play each song faster and more fluidly. I gave the most advanced couple of the students some finger technique exercises to work on during class time in addition to their songs. Fortunately, children in this class are exhibiting good classroom etiquette and doing a good job of focusing on their music during class time. They are all progressing at a satisfactory rate.

May 9th, 2018  - Guitar Class -- Session started reviewing last song that we all played together last class, "Twinkle twinkle little star". Everybody is playing the song really well. This time we moved forward to basic chords, starting with the G chord, showing them all individually the fingering. At first, it feels a little bit difficult, because it involves  4 fingers moving together all at once to form the chord, but they took Their time in it until the end of the session. In the end some of them were playing the chord correctly, others need a few more sessions to accomplish it. End of session we all went for the gate together.

May 9th, 2018  - Piano Class - In this session, students reviewed the piece they practiced last week and proceeded onto the next one. Students at all experience levels were introduced to the idea of using all 5 fingers effectively instead of playing with only one finger. This helped improve the fluidity of their playing and their ability to play the rhythms accurately. A couple of the more advanced students started learning about how to harmonize their melodies with the C major chord. This proved interesting and challenging. At all levels, I work toward teaching them how to use their ears to tell if they played a song accurately and with proper rhythm. Since all their songs are fairly familiar to them, they are pretty good at playing the rhythms by ear once they have learned the notes.

May 2, 2018 - Piano - Today I was the substitute for the piano kids. I got to meet them all for the first time and they were all very sweet. I got to see how they are doing so far and where they’ve progressed throughout the course. I appreciated the opportunity to work with some new students. I would encourage them to continue practicing their songs and work on the rhythms. Thanks!

April 25, PIANO:  In this class, students got to spend more time learning new songs. Because they are at different levels, they were assigned songs that correspond to their experience level in this class. New students started with the first page. They did "Ode to Joy" last time, and this time they played "Mary Had a Little Lamb," and got to start a little bit on "Jingle Bells" toward the end of the class. They will practice that song more next time. Intermediate students who took the class once before are in the middle of the book, and worked on "Alouette" and "Farmer in the Dell." Those who have taken the class more than once before were much farther along in the book and playing "Bingo" and "Twinkle Little Star." They are also learning more about theory and distinguishing rhythm and octaves in songs. All students are learning how to use their fingers more effectively to play the songs smoother.

April 25th - GUITAR -- Session started reviewing last class topics, and checking their progress. Everybody handling the instrument properly and tuning if necessary. We did a different song today, "Twinkle twinkle little star". We all looked at the notes carefully, then i checked their progress individually on that. All the students seem to like this song a lot and we all had fun playing it.Following their individual progress, students look pretty interested in playing the songs. End of session, we all headed out towards the gate together.

April 18, GUITAR --  I revisited the first lessons on the book for everyone, then checked individually the level of each student. After some practice in the first lessons of the book about first notes, I tuned all the guitars, ,so they come back for next with guitars in tune already, then we were done. Helped them wrap up everything and headed out to the gate together.

APRIL 19, 2018  PIANO -- In this first class, I assessed each student's level, since we have a large range of experience levels in the class and some brand new students. Students who were brand new to piano began with "Ode to Joy" on the first page of the book. I had returning students review the last two songs they learned in the previous semester then proceed onto the next song in the book. I also explained more of the theory to them, to clarify anything that confused them. All new students were able to play the first song and will proceed onto the next song in our next session.

MARCH 14, 2018  - PIANO  - Hi, Piano Families-- We enjoyed our final class together for the Winter session today, with each student invited to choose their two favorite songs from their piano book to perform for me.  Some students took the initiative to memorize their songs, and the class was able to hear them play from memory.  We reviewed the rhythm concepts and musical notation concepts which we covered this semester, in addition to the specific note-reading and technical skills involved in the musical selections. Please encourage your student to continue playing and enjoying their keyboard, and we look forward to seeing many of you for the next piano course!


MARCH 14, 2018 - Guitar - (Mr. Swanson)  2Lesson went well. One child forgot his guitar and didn't attend; but with 3 students in my group we got a lot done, one student brought Canon in D arrangements for the other students that we decided to look at and attempt to play in the group.

MARCH 14, 2018 - Guitar (Mr. Ramirez)  - Hey everyone! Our 7-week class session has come to an end today. We have a great session this year and I’m looking forward to seeing some of these students again for the spring session. Today we went over some of the songs we have learned this year such as ‘twinkle twinkle’, ‘Hot Cross Buns’, and ‘Rain Rain Go Away’. They did very well today and it is great to see them improve. I really enjoyed teaching these wonderful kids the basics of the guitar this year!

MARCH 7, 2018 - Guitar - (Mr. Swanson)  2 students were not able to make it today, however it was incredibly productive in class today. We sat in the same group circle as the prior week and one student brought in a tab of Pachelbel's canon in D. So we continued attempting to play the first 6 measures in sync with one another. Something, many of them had never experienced was keeping time in a group and having to follow a conductor. So this was definitely a beneficial lesson in all.

MARCH 7, 2018 - Guitar - (Mr. Ramirez) Hello Everyone! We had yet another great day at class. Today was an interesting day because we had class in the library. The each played ‘Rain Rain Go Away’, ‘Hot Cross Buns’, and 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’. Today I introduced them to the next song and the line notes. I would like for them to learn to listen to each other play and not play when another student is playing. Other then that, we made some great progress today and I can’t wait for next week. Looking forward to seeing some of them again for the spring lessons!

MARCH 7, 2018  - PIANO  -- We had another excellent class today!  Each student performed the songs they practiced as homework, and then began to learn the next song in the series.  We discussed musical scales, as well as the note sequences on the piano keyboard beyond the notes which are currently marked with stickers on their keys. For first semester students, please practice “The Farmer in the Dell” and “London Bridge” for this week’s homework assignment.  For second semester students, please practice “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from the Lion King, and “If You’re Happy and You Know It”. Next week is our last class for the Winter session.  We hope to see many of you again for the Spring session! See you next Wednesday.

FEBRUARY 28, 2018 - Guitar  -  (Mr. Swanson)  -- Class went well. all students attended and were transported safely to the gate. Class was held inside today, as per instruction. Today, my group stayed in a circle and each student got a turn to either show what they've been working on, ask questions, or in 2 circumstances, play what they wrote. Which was very exciting to see. I used the opportunity to ask other students what they thought of the performance so they would try and be aware of not only their own playing, but the playing of their peers.

FEBRUARY 28, 2018  - PIANO -We had a full house in piano class today, as every student was present and ready to play their pieces!  We learned some additional rhythms today, as well as continuing to progress with our musical technique. For homework this week, first semester students should practice “Deck the Halls” which is on page 6.  Second semester students should practice “Heart and Soul” and “The Bus Song”, both of which are on page 11. Please continue to remind your student to pack their keyboard, piano book, and headphones the night before class.  Thank you! See you next Wednesday,

FEBRUARY 21, 2018 - Guitar  -  (Mr. Swanson) Class went smoothly. One student was absent but the remaining participated well. However one didn't meet at the intended location we found him where we normally do our lesson. This week, to save time, since most of the early pages of the book focus on single string exercises, we skipped tuning and went straight to practice so the students could get most out of our time. Most of the students are doing well and we have started really going into reading the music rather than just focusing on string numbers. One student may even be advancing to chords soon.
Questions pertaining to rhythm have started rising because the concept of rhythm isn't so easily conveyed in the book, so we have started focusing on certain rhythm exercises. To end the class I gave my students the choice of a song that they would have to practice over the week.

FEBRUARY 21, 2018 - Guitar - (Mr. Ramirez) -  Hello parents!  I am very pleased to say the kids are improving and they are beginning to play songs very well. Some kids are able to play multiple songs, and some of the other students are still working on their first song. I’m proud of each of them for practicing the material during class and even at home. Some of the students have trouble pressing their fingers on the frets, which is a very common issue for beginning guitar players. It takes some time and practice for someone to hold down a note without it hurting a little. Their fingertips will begin to have calluses. Other than that, the kids have been great. Their behavior has also been excellent! Cassidy and I have not had any issues, which has been great! Looking forward to working with them again next Wednesday!

FEBRUARY 21st, 2018  - PIANO - All of our students enjoyed piano class today, as we played this week’s songs and learned a new one in class.  We also discussed different note values, such as quarter notes, half notes, and eighth notes, and practiced what each one sounds like.  Each student had an opportunity to explore the various sounds available on the electronic keyboard, and shared with the class what their favorite sound is so that everybody else could try it too. For homework, first semester students should practice “Alouette”, and second semester students should practice “Happy Birthday” and “I’m a Little Teapot”. See you next week!

FEBRUARY 14, 2018  - PIANO - We had a busy piano class today, with all students performing two or more of their songs as well as looking ahead to the next one by sight-reading.  For Jingle Bells, we found the bell and chime sounds on the keyboard and utilized those for the song which everyone really enjoyed.  We also learned some special musical notation, with our song that had repeat signs and 1st and 2nd endings. For homework, beginning students should work on Frere Jacques.  Second semester students should work on Bingo and Jolly Old St. Nicholas. Please continue to remind your student to put their keyboard, book, and headphones in (or with) their backpack the night before class so that nothing gets accidentally left at home.  Thank you!

FEBRUARY 7, 2018  --  GUITAR  -- (Mr. Swanson's class) Lessons went well, for the first meeting between myself and this group we introduced ourselves and discussed current levels and covered who was new to the group and who were returning students. After introductions, we went over tuning and tuned each of the guitars. After the tuning was complete we discussed the books and what there was to cover. 3 of the new students decided to go over new material which I helped, both in understanding how to read the tablature and proper techniques for being able to play said notes.  For the returning students, I went over basics that they seemed to forget and taught a new technique for them to teach other students; that is to say, natural harmonics (They asked for something interesting, and it was easy without taking much time).  After covering different topics both at the group and individual level all students were returned to the front gate.  Things to work on next time, having them refer to me as mr. Swanson, I feel that a clear indication of seniority and the fact that they are there to learn will help in terms of letting them no that they ought to remained disciplined as this is still a time to learn; aside from that, they are all progressing nicely and some rambunctiousness is to be expected at that age.

FEBRUARY 7, 2018 - Guitar - (Mr. Ramirez) Hello parents! We had another great day of guitar class. Me and Cassidy have divided the students into two groups.  We learned more about the basics of tuning and the names of the strings. I also introduced them to the concept of frets and how each fret will make a different note. The higher the fret is played on the guitar, the higher the pitch will be. We also learned our first song and some of them really caught on quickly, and some of the younger students required a little more time to work with. I told them to practice page 13 so when they come back next week, they can be ready for the next song I have for them. Looking forward to working with these great kids again!

FEBRUARY 7, 2018  -- PIANO - We had an excellent class today, with all students becoming more comfortable with their keyboards.  We worked on our first two songs, “Ode to Joy” and “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, which we played both individually and as a group.  Please have your student continue to practice these two songs at home, and next week we will begin our next song in the curriculum book. Several students forgot to bring either their keyboard, their book, or both to class today.  Please be sure your student comes prepared, so that other students aren’t inconvenienced by having to share their keyboard during class. Looking forward to seeing everyone next Wednesday!

JANUARY 31st, 2018  -- PIANO -- Hello Piano Families! We had an excellent start to our piano classes today!  Each student received a keyboard, headphones, and the piano curriculum book for the winter session.  We had a chance to experiment with the different keyboard sounds, as well as labeling the keys for ease of music-reading.  Please be sure your student brings the keyboard, piano book, and headphones to each of our Wednesday classes.  Next week we will learn our first song, “Ode to Joy”.   Have a great week and I’ll see you next Wednesday!

JANUARY 31st, 2018  --  GUITAR  --  We had a wonderful first session!  The children received their guitars and curriculum books and they were getting familiar with their materials.  They got to meet their fellow classmates and instructor.  They started learning the basics of tuning a guitar and holding the instrument properly.  Next class we will start working from the curriculum books and returning students will review and progress further from where they left off.

Please remind your children to take good care of their instruments as they are fragile.

Please keep in mind that since this is a group class, and every student learns at the pace of the group, it is expected that some children may be faster than others in learning.  In this group class we all work as a team, so the faster students get to help their study partners.

Please note:

We do offer private, one-on-one music lessons in the comfort of your home.  So, we suggest to continue your children’s training with one of our outstanding instructors so they don’t have a long gap between lessons, and therefore hinder their progress.

Thank you very much.

Oksana and Staff


Please watch this TED Ed video on YouTube to understand the importance of music lessons:

Original video is posted on TED Ed - Lessons Worth Sharing!