• June 1, 2020

Musician takes acumen to church - Odessa American: Religion

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Musician takes acumen to church

ECISD teacher directing choirs at Asbury UMC

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  • Love of Music

    Director of Music Ministry Lara De Shazo, conducts the choir rehearsal of 'Lord of Glory God of Grace' at Ashbury United Methodist Church. An Odessa native, De Shazo is also the music specialist for all of ECISD's campuses on the west side of town.

Posted: Saturday, April 4, 2020 3:30 am

It was a memorable day for Lara De Shazo when she took over the music ministry directorship for Barbara Shinn at Asbury United Methodist Church because she and Shinn have had a lifelong association going back to the years when Shinn was her music teacher at Bonham Middle School.

“Barbara was my first vocal coach,” De Shazo said, explaining that health problems forced Shinn to retire. “I had subbed for her off and on for 11 years and became director of the choir and children’s choir two years ago. She was and is my mentor, teacher and friend and is like another mother. With her guidance, I discovered my love of music.”

Noting that her full-time job is at Edward K. Downing Elementary School, De Shazo said, “I teach music morning, noon and night.

“Our choir is a little family, but we have problems getting people to come and sing and be part of it. We’re always looking for new voices.”

Asbury’s children’s and adult choirs average seven to over a dozen members at the 4001 E. University Blvd. church, which meets at 9 a.m. Sunday for the traditional service and 11 a.m. for praise worship. The Rev. Sean Smith is the pastor.

De Shazo is an Odessa native who graduated from Odessa High School in 2000 and took a bachelor’s degree in music education and choral conducting at Tarleton State University in Stephenville. She started work in Midland public schools in 2007 and came to the ECISD five years ago, teaching at Downing and Cavazos elementary schools for four years until last year.

“We set up the message for the preacher,” De Shazo said. “Music speaks differently to many people. Sometimes their minds wander when they hear the spoken word and music is a way to communicate a message they might not otherwise focus on. It helps to bridge that gap.

“You get lost in music. You sing and it’s fun. It’s an experience. I like a lot of jazzy old Gospel stuff like ‘This Little Light of Mine’ and ‘Wade in the Water.’ I’m a lover of Gospel music.”

Her adult church choir rehearses from 7:15 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Choir pianist Belinda Richey said De Shazo “is a well-educated musician and a hard-working teacher who loves music and expresses herself that way.

“Lara is a very positive, energizing type of person,” Richey said, noting that De Shazo’s parents Mike and Jeanie are church members. “She was a student of Barbara’s, who had her in public school and was her private teacher. Barbara has been influential with a lot of Odessa vocalists.”

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