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Archive for Tuesday, January 31, 1995

PLAYING ALONG

January 31, 1995

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Shaun Trenholm lifts and drops his heel in rhythm, blowing his horn to the Troggs' hit "Wild Thing!" A few rows up, Paul Corcoran, hair cropped close with a rat tail hanging from the back, uses his toe to tap the beat and holds his flute across his goatee.

The children around them are at least 22 years their junior.

Despite the difference in age, the children and the two teachers are on the same level. They are in Deerfield Elementary School's sixth-grade band.

"There's nothing you can't solve," says Corcoran, who teaches fifth- and sixth-grade math. "Whatever age you are, go out and try it."

That's what he and Trenholm did. Both always wanted to learn an instrument and have children who play one. They got permission from the principal and band director to take band, as long as it didn't interfere with their teaching. No problem; they just give up their lunch hours.

Corcoran and Trenholm are not under scrutiny during "Wild Thing," but no student in Jack Brookshire's class escapes it. Brookshire is concentrating on the clarinets, insisting they shorten notes to make the song punchier.

Corcoran, 45, remembers when he had to play the scales under the gun. All of his bandmates have been his students in math.

"I'm as nervous as they are," he says. "I'm squawking like crazy. I'm sure they were saying, 'God Almighty, that's awful.'"

Sixth-grader Katie Rhodes plays trumpet next to Trenholm.

"He's OK," she says. "I think it's neat."

Trenholm, 35, decked in Jayhawk garb, teaches physical education.

"It's good for me to know that feeling of frustration," he says. "It makes me sharper and more sympathetic to students."

Both Trenholm and Corcoran say staying in practice is the biggest challenge. Because he plays the flute, Corcoran says he can practice at home without creating too many raw nerves. Not so with Trenholm's trumpet.

"When the dogs see me reach for my trumpet, they will leave the room," he says. "They just scamper away."

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