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Jesus, music in complete harmony in Paris music school

Shana White opens new music school, Trinity Music Lessons, in her hometown of Paris

Published: April 1, 2024   
Shana White (left) gives an interactive music lesson to Jordan Devine, Finn McGarrah and Ellie Devine (in foreground) at Trinity Music Lessons in Paris March 18. (Jessie McGarrah)

Trinity Music Lessons, offering piano, voice, organ and early childhood music classes, has a unique mission. 

“I want to teach children to play for God,” program director Shana White said. 

White returned home to Paris with her husband and three daughters last fall after living and teaching music in Waldron and Colorado for 18 years. 

“When I was in first grade at St. Joseph School, I would look up at the choir loft and there was always a student playing the organ. I knew I wanted to do that, too. I began taking lessons in third grade with our music teacher, Dolores Etzkorn, and began playing at Mass in sixth grade. She had so many student musicians that we would play in six-week rotations at the three Sunday Masses.”

She continued to play and sing at Masses through college, and when she and her family moved to Waldron in 2004, Father Neil Pezzulo, GHM, then-pastor of St. Jude Thaddeus Church, asked her to teach musicians and begin a music ministry there. 

“All of our Masses were bilingual. I didn’t know much about Hispanic culture or church music, but by the time we moved to Colorado in 2012, we had an active music ministry with occasional organ, piano and guitar ensembles.”

Her music education program grew in Fort Collins. After taking continuing education courses, White began specializing in teaching children with ADHD and on the autism spectrum. 

“Children learn differently, and I custom tailor my approach to each student,” she said. ”Lots of students want instant gratification, and through stories, color-coded keys and theory games I keep learning fun.”

She held two themed recitals a year and brought her students to play and sing at nursing homes and assisted living centers. At one of those performances, a little girl told her, “I can’t play ‘Joy to the World’ because my parents don’t believe in Jesus.” 

That encounter reinforced White’s desire to encourage students to participate in music ministry in their churches. 

During the COVID pandemic, White learned to give online piano and voice lessons using Facetime or Forte lessons. When she was getting ready to move home to Paris, 18 of her Colorado students asked to continue their lessons with her online. 

“We go back to Colorado twice a year to visit my husband’s family, so I can continue to have recitals with them,” White said.

Her studio in Paris, only seven months old, now has thirty-six students — 18 online and eighteen locals. “Coming back home you have your village again,” the fifth-generation Paris resident said. “Everyone knows everyone, and it’s nice to have Christians in this town. Colorado was very secular.”

Her youngest daughter attends St. Joseph School, and White quickly became involved with music ministry. She began to teach a children’s choir, which currently sings at one Sunday Mass a month and is beginning to learn harmonies. She also plays at the Friday school Mass, bringing two or three volunteers from the choir, who announce the songs and sing with her. 

“We haven’t learned the Mass parts yet, but we sing four hymns at each Mass,” she said. “My eventual goal is to have students playing the organ at Masses as they did when I was growing up.

“We see lots of older people in the pews when we go to church now,” White said. “I want to bring families back to church. If we can get children singing it brings the families back, and that’s my ultimate goal.”

Only six of her 18 local students are Catholic, but other Christians have been attracted to her religious focus. She is teaching piano to a 66-year-old pastor’s wife and another woman who plays for her church’s youth group.

“My students range from toddlers in the Mommy and Me class to adults,” White said.

Her studio has a play-and-learn area with little drum kits, toys, floor decorations and manipulatives, a piano and a music library with hymns, classics, rock, country, blues, jazz and contemporary selections.

She is beginning to write her own method book, including supplemental learning aids she’s developed.

She offers complimentary lessons for prospective students. For more information,

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