AMESBURY — Amesbury Middle School music teacher and band director Dan Fijalkowski has a vision.
“One of my aspirations is for the middle school band to give back to the community and perform in parades like the Memorial Day parade,” Fijalkowski said. “I would love to see an Amesbury Days parade and have the middle school band perform in it. Just to do more outside performances and things like that.”
Now in his eighth year teaching music to Amesbury’s students both at the middle and high schools, Fijalkowski is also hoping that anyone in the area looking for a better night’s sleep will come to their first mattress fundraiser sale at the Amesbury Middle School cafeteria this Saturday to help make his vision a reality.
“The cafeteria literally becomes a mattress store,” Fijalkowski said. “There will be over 20 mattresses on display, all different types and sizes. We hope to raise a lot of money and get a good portion of the sales of the mattresses. They are already marked 30 to 60 percent off and anybody who walks in the door gets a $50 off coupon as well.”
Working along with the Cleveland-based Custom Fundraising Solutions that will be providing professional salespeople, the sale runs from 10 a.m to 5 p.m., and all of the proceeds will go directly to the high school and middle school music programs.
“I have a music teacher friend at a much smaller school in New Hampshire that did it,” Fijalkowski said. “His school did about $5,000 in two years and we are hoping to do that much in this first year.”
Currently, the Middle School Band plays their usual concerts and the occasional pep rally, but Fijalkowski wants to expand their reach and experience.
“Right now we just mainly do our own concerts and we don’t give back to the community a ton,” Fijalkowski said. “That is just the nature of what it has been. But getting us mobile will make us able to perform outside of just the middle school.”
With uniforms provided through an Amesbury Educational Foundation Inc. (AEFI) grant, the High School Marching Band performs in parades and plays in the stands at Indians’ football games. Fijalkowski said that he hopes to one day have a competitive high school marching band as well, and eventually combine a middle school marching band for parades.
“That would be fun to have a performance to bridge the gap for the eighth-graders going to the high school so that they can have an idea of what it is like,” Fijalkowski said.
A fan of The Beatles, eighth-grader Ellie Costello began taking piano lessons when she was 4 years old and has been has been playing the trumpet in the Middle School Band for the past four years. Costello said that she wants to continue her music education in high school, and hopes that her middle school counterparts could take advantage of a marching band in the future.
“Even if I don’t pursue (music) as a future career, I will always have it to rely on,” Costello said. “And (exposing) kids to a marching band setting at an earlier age is good. You do learn better when you are younger and it is an easier way to adjust to the high school band.”
Fellow eighth-grader and U2 fan Evan Ney began playing the saxophone in fifth grade and now plays alto and tenor sax. Ney said that he believes learning to read music has helped him broaden his study skills and deepen his tenacity.
“Sometimes you are challenged by a certain piece and you are struggling with it, but you just have to push through and keep working and be persistent,” Ney said. “It is a great skill to have, even if you don’t pursue it. It’s a fun outlet for feelings or just something to do. The skills you develop definitely help you in other subjects and do them better.”