By Cindy Zomar, Education Coordinator
NORTHBOROUGH – When schools get notes from the abutting neighbors about their outdoor activities, they generally don’t offer praise or encouragement. Rather, such notes are often about noise.
That’s what Principal Michelle Karb of the Melican Middle School in Northborough was expecting when she saw a recent email come in about her sixth-grade band. Instead, the note was not only praising the band but asking for a special outdoor concert in a neighboring backyard.
“One of the nearby neighbors, Angie Marks, sent this beautiful email telling me how much she and the others enjoyed hearing the band practice outdoors from their backyards,” Karb recalled in a recent interview with the Community Advocate.
The note went on to say that, through the pandemic, some elderly neighbors had a lonely year. Hearing students play brightened their day.
“I was peeking through the bushes, trying to take a video to send to my father when I noticed that I wasn’t the only neighbor sitting outside enjoying the music,” explained Marks.
“Singing along with the patriotic tunes, an elderly friend commented that it was like a free concert, and I decided it couldn’t hurt to ask if the band could come play in person,” she added.
Marks asked if the band would “consider becoming a ‘marching band’” to perform a concert in a nearby backyard so neighbors could actually see the students.
Band director David Daquil and Karb agreed that this was an opportunity they shouldn’t miss.
“The kids had a blast,” Daquil said. “They were so excited when I presented them with the idea. There was no hesitation at all.”
This wasn’t the first time Daquil took his show on the road.
Before the pandemic, he would take groups of students to the Coleman House in Northborough to perform for elderly residents there. None of that could happen this year, though.
With this outdoor performance being viable, the school rented a U Haul truck to get all its band’s music stands and some of its larger instruments to a backyard on an adjacent street next to Melican.
Using a six-foot measuring stick, they set up the stands with COVID-19 guidelines in mind.
“I was nervous thinking about marching forty-five students through the neighborhood with only my partner and I, but we had support from the office staff, guidance, and the nurses, who all came with us,” Daquil said.
Colleague Averi Parece just marked her first year teaching at Melican and she readily admits it was an unusual beginning. This musical finale, though, was a welcome opportunity.
“It was a weird year,” she said. “I taught music in-person while we were in hybrid mode and Mr. Daquil taught the Zoom classes.”
She added, “This was a great way to end the year, and it showed the students that even though music may just seem like another school class, it can really have an impact on the community.”
For at least one student, that message was received. Aisha Ali plays the oboe and was in the front row where she could clearly see the reaction of the neighbors she and her classmates played for.
“I really like how music can make people feel so happy and now I want to play even more to share that joy,” she said.