A double life

Micah Martin, Staff Wrtier

Joe Mickeliunas has been teaching social studies at Central for six years, but long before he started teaching he started making music. “It’s cool…with most teachers you don’t think about their other lives, and you especially don’t think about them being in a band,” said sophomore Jack Pfeiffer. At the age of seven Mickeliunas started playing piano, and when he turned eleven years old he got a bass guitar; since then he has been in numerous bands.

“The first band was probably my freshman year in high school. I played in a ska-punk band, which is like a punk band with horns with kind of a reggae feel to it,” said Mickeliunas. From there he has been in around five other serious bands, on top of that he is currently in two bands, which are Post Verse and Routine Escorts.

Mickeliunas best described Post Verse as a loud 90’s rock band, that has been compared to other groups like Pavement or Mazzy Star, which are alternative rock bands. While Routine Escorts is an electronic pop band that takes the darker elements of pop to craft their songs. In this band, Mickeliunas plays the only acoustic instrument, the string bass, while keyboards, samples and drum machines are used for everything else.

For Mickeliunas being a member in multiple bands allows for a collaborative creative escape that he enjoys, as well as, an opportunity to be given the challenge of creating something new and different. “The two bands that I’m in now are not like bands that I’ve ever been in. I always played in kind of louder punk or metal bands, and the two bands I play in now are kind of the opposite of that,” added Mickeliunas. Not only does being a musician allow for him to express himself creatively, but it allows for many different opportunities.

One of these opportunities is touring, which is one of his favorite aspects of being a musician in a band. “Being on tour is memorable; being in a different city every day, whether it was for a week or for a month. I got to travel with my best friends, play music for strangers, sleep on someone’s floor and see a lot of parts of the country that I’d never thought I’d see,” said Mickeliunas.

Mickeliunas knew that he had a love for music and history, but discovered his love for teaching with of the help of others. It was while watching a show on the history channel, and spouting out facts when Mickeliunas realized that teaching would be a great fit for him. After his, then girlfriend, now wife, pointed it out to him a light bulb went off and he applied to UNO, so that he could go back to school in order to earn his teaching degree.

Teaching may seem like a far cry from being a musician in a band, but for Mickeliunas it was the right fit. He takes his personality and life experiences, and uses them to keep his classes interesting and engaging. “He teaches in a way that makes it fun. Instead of just taking notes and doing examples we’re doing things like group activities and watching videos,” said Pfeiffer.

Mickeliunas’ has favorite aspects for both teaching and playing in a band, but they all have to do with other people. From playing for random fans to learning with his students Mickeliunas truly enjoys interacting with others. “I teach a diverse group of students and I learn something from them every day. I take something out of each class period, just as I hope everyone takes something out of what we do,” added Mickeliunas.

For him it’s all about taking things one step at a time, and finding the silver linings in life. Mickeliunas’ life can get hectic and chaotic, but instead of seeing that as a negative thing he uses it to keep him going. “Don’t get frustrated,” said Mickeliunas, “You can’t force yourself to write a song and change the world you can just do it.”