The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


Old and New Habits

After 40 years, Douglas Talley is ready to return to playing like before
Jack Pische
Band teacher Doug Talley plays jazz music on his clarinet May 3 in Room 39. Talley is retiring after teaching at NW for 38 years. photo by Jack Pishce


Forty years ago, music teacher Douglas Talley started his career as a teacher, thinking it was only going to be something small. Something like a summer job with no strings attached.

“I couldn’t have imagined that I would stay in for 40 years. I was probably thinking, oh, five or 10 years, and I’ll teach for a while then I’ll go back to playing ,” Talley said. “But that didn’t happen, and I think it’s because I just fell in love with the job.” 

Talley always loved playing music. He started with piano, then cello in elementary and lastly clarinet. Learning and improving as time went by. Talley is ready to put that all into work once again as his retirement approaches. 

“It’s a magical experience,” Talley said.

Before teaching, Talley played on the road, went to school to get his teaching certificate and even spent time playing in Las Vegas.

In 1984, Talley moved from Texas to Kansas, where he taught at Hillcrest Junior High. After two years of teaching in 1986, Talley moved to Trailridge Middle School and Northwest where he would spend the next 38 years.

“When I was much younger, I taught, of course, five days a week, and played five nights a week in a club,” Talley said. “And so I do remember that I had my alarm clock set for 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. both because when I got home from school every day, I would try to take a nap for about an hour or two .”

Talley has played in a lot of bands and groups, but recently he’s been forced to turn a couple opportunities down due to teaching. Now he’s ready to jump back into playing, though maybe not as much as before.

“The two things I’ll miss the most are the students and the staff,” Talley said. 

Talley doesn’t truly want to leave. To him, this school and the people in it are worth keeping, but after so long he thinks it’s about time he does what he loves: something other than teaching.

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