AUBURN — At 7:15 a.m. Wednesday, students headed to class to the tune of “Oh, Susanna,” a live performance complete with a piano and a banjo.

A few minutes later, the crowd of students in the hall had grown thicker, and the sound of “Jingle Bells” filled the air, making it difficult not to smile.

Live music is how the Auburn Middle School starts the day, every day, thanks to music teacher Jason Paquette and his band of student musicians.

“It’s a nice way to start the day. It makes people relaxed and happy,” Principal Jim Hand said. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen staff out there dancing to what he’s playing. It’s really cool.”

Paquette started performing on the first day of his job. A second-generation music teacher, he became the middle school music teacher in the fall of 2012.

“On the first day of school, I thought it would be fun to play my accordion for the kids coming in,” Paquette said. On the second day, he played his guitar, on the third day his banjo, and on the fourth day, the piano.

“It kept going and going,” he said.

These days, the early concerts are part of the routine. “It’s something fun to do,” he said. “Teachers come by and sing. Students stop by and sing. It brightens the mood, right, Reid?”

“Yes,” answered eighth-grader Reid Buzza.

Most mornings, students perform with Paquette. Who performs depends on who got up early enough. The group plays from 7:15 to 7:35 a.m. as everyone else rushes to class.

On Wednesday the performers were Paquette on the piano and banjo; Buzza, 13, on the mandolin; Josh White, 12, on the violin; Gabe Sears, 12, vocalist; and Andrew Dostie, 14, and Taylor Depot, 13, on guitars.

They perform upbeat music, sometimes taking requests. There is no game plan, Paquette said. Requests include rock ‘n’ roll and country, especially from the line-dancing students on the Tumbledown Team.

This month, common requests are for Christmas music, “Jingle Bells,” “Frosty the Snowman” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

On Wednesday, they performed “Rudolph.” Just as they sang “won’t you fly my sleigh tonight,” School Resource Officer Don Cousins walked by. “Solo by Officer Cousins,” someone said.

Cousins smiled and sang, “Then all the reindeer loved him.”

The group’s last song of the morning was a catchy rendition of “Jingle Bell Rock.”

Suddenly, the halls were empty. Students were in classes.

Paquette, 29, is the son of Dean and Cathy Paquette who were sweethearts at Lewiston High School. His parents have been music teachers for 24 years, these days in South Korea.

On the rare occasion that there’s no early-morning music at the middle school, it gets noticed, Paquette said. “People say, ‘Hey! What happened?’ It’s like a normal morning gig.”

If he can’t play, one of his students takes over.

Depot said providing music before school begins “gets kids pumped up for the long day at school.”

“It’s pretty fun,” Dostie said. “A lot of times I see that people enjoy the music. Sometimes the principal, Mr. Hand, comes over and requests a song. So I try to learn those songs.”

The before-school music is played in the second-floor lobby near the stairs, which allows the music to float down the stairs and through the halls.

From her first-floor front office, secretary Sheila Aliberti said she hears and appreciates the music. “It brightens everyone’s day,” she said. “It really is nice.”

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