LEWISTON — Mike McClure backs up son Jay at local gigs on bass guitar. He also administers GED tests 12 hours a week at Lewiston Adult Education, handing out the occasional diploma and bits of advice. He's gearing up to teach a course on recording a CD.
McClure is a retired longtime music teacher but not, strictly, retired and certainly not done with music.
"It's been a hell of a ride, and I love what I'm doing now," said McClure, 65.
Born and raised here, he spent most of 27 years teaching at Lewiston Middle School. As a student teacher, McClure remembers being surprised to see how students that age could be one way one day, "the next day it was the same kid but totally opposite." He taught music, band and chorus, mostly to seventh- and eighth-graders.
"My philosophy was to stop playing notes and start playing music," McClure said. "I looked forward to every year when school started."
He grew up playing music, first piano and later tuba in the Lewiston High School band.
"I had an excellent band director. He was like my mentor: 'I want to be like him,'" McClure said.
McClure was also hooked on cars early and knew he wanted to pursue both passions. He was about 6 years old when his dad brought home a 1938 Ford.
"I just couldn't wait to open up the hood and see how it worked," McClure said.
He retired from teaching in 1999 and worked for a General Motors dealership, then VIP.
Now back in education, McClure has been with Lewiston Adult Ed since April as a GED examiner. He administers the high school equivalency tests, at least five per person for different subjects.
People drop out for so many reasons, McClure said. Family issues, school, personal issues. He sees lots of 19- and 20-year-olds.
"When it does happen that I can hand someone a diploma, you see a whole different person," McClure said. "My advice is always, 'Put it to work.' It's always rewarding to see someone succeed."
He's pulling together an adult ed course now on recording music. His advice when musicians aren't so good? Honesty.
"The best thing to do is record them and have them listen to themselves," McClure said. "'Oh, it sounded OK when I played it.' Well, what can we do to fix it?"
He has a studio in the home he shares with his wife of 41 years, Louise. McClure plays the bass fiddle, bass guitar, tuba, trumpet, baritone and keyboard. One of their children, Jay, went into music. Their two daughters, Karen and Jennifer, went into education.
McClure is looking forward to getting back into the classroom for the recording class, maybe as soon as this winter.
"I'd love to find someone who could write a song that could be an anthem for adult ed," he said.
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