How Tri-M® Music Honor Society Can Spotlight Your Music Program

Considering the Two Pillars of Service and Leadership 

By NAfME Member Jessica Fiedorowicz

One of the wonderful things about having a chapter of the Tri-M® Music Honor Society (Tri-M®) in your school program is that it highlights your students and their commitment beyond the classroom. When people think of a school music program, they typically think of the performance aspect. As music educators, we know that there is far more to being involved in a school music program than the performance aspect. Involvement in music programs builds confidence and leadership skills, while involving students in something bigger than themselves. How can we highlight our programs while recognizing students who want to take their leadership skills beyond the classroom to serve the larger community?

Two of the pillars of Tri-M are SERVICE and LEADERSHIP. As you follow your journey as a Tri-M advisor, you provide young musicians the opportunity to develop into servant-leaders within their communities. This can seem like a daunting task, as many in education feel that they cannot add another thing to an already overflowing plate. However, you, your music program, and—most importantly—your music students benefit tremendously when you intentionally take the time to develop the chapter.

Building Leaders Who Serve

When we first started a Tri-M chapter in our school district, we did so in order to provide more MUSICAL opportunities for our students who wanted more than we offered. As we dug deeper into what it means to be part of Tri-M, we realized that music could offer so many students the opportunities to SERVE, LEAD, and BUILD CHARACTER. Tri-M encourages students to find individual service hours, and the mere act of asking someone to sign off on their service hours sparks a conversation and gives students an opportunity to talk about their music program and their involvement in Tri-M. In addition, we have one or two chapter service projects each year that require student participation. These projects mean students get the experience of working on committees, planning, organizing, and implementing projects. They also get to see the immediate impact they have on the community when it is time to start their project.

How Does This Spotlight Your Program? 

Service projects, music in the community, and students reaching out are all excellent ways to build (or build upon) a strong sense of community in your district. As small businesses and community organizations plan events, those entities are often looking for ways to include local students in those projects and events to provide music and/or volunteer. Once we build the momentum with Tri-M as the driver, more people reach out to Tri-M students and feel confident that we will deliver. Word-of-mouth is a powerful way of spotlighting your program, and soon you see Tri-M students spotlighted on community social media pages with comments like, “Check with Mrs. Fiedorowicz at the high school. They have a group that likes to help out!”

high school community cleanup project

Photo: FatCamera / iStock/Getty Images Plus

Connecting with Community

Imagine your students helping with a community food drive, collecting donations for heating assistance, or simply thanking all the members of the school community who help keep the district running. What if you are the person your principal contacts for a service project or when they need volunteers because they KNOW the music students are fully engaged and ready to help out? What if the local elder care facilities contact you to bring music in to brighten the days of the residents? In some respects, this can seem a bit overwhelming as a busy director, but if you are truly in the role of ADVISOR, you can help your student LEADERS make the connections and run with those projects.

Examples 

The specifics are going to look different for every chapter as every community is different.

Following are some of our chapter’s favorite projects and service ideas from students and co-advisors. In every instance, it’s important to make sure your students are identified as members of your program and your Tri-M chapter. This kind of recognition builds community relationships and chapter recognition.

  • Community carnival
    • Doubles as chapter fundraiser
    • Includes Instrument Petting Zoo
    • Cooperate with Fire Dept. as part of Fire Safety Month
    • Cooperate with community festival organizers
    • Work with local businesses
  • In-house Solo and Ensemble Festival
    • Opportunity for students to perform music for adjudication
    • Removes the barrier of traveling out of town so more students can participate
    • Students manage the performance, warm-up, and registration, while advisors hire adjudicators and build schedules
  • Performances at local retirement communities
    • Small groups
    • Individual
    • Have your student leadership coordinate with the activity coordinator and build a schedule for performances
  • Thank you project
    • Recognition of ALL school staff who work to keep district running smoothly
  • Mentoring
    • Members tutor and mentor younger music students
  • Elementary classroom assistants
    • Assist the elementary music teacher by working with elementary students
  • Collaborative community babysitting
  • Collaborate with Key Club, National Honor Society chapter, Diversity Club, or other student clubs to offer low-cost evening of activities for young children
  • Scholarship Concert
    • Chapter members perform small ensemble and solo works in concert
    • Proceeds go toward annual scholarship offered to one of our graduating seniors (application required)

Tri-M and Your Music Program 

One final point: The Tri-M Music Honor Society offers so many resources at the national level to help you build momentum. You can also connect with your region’s Advisory Council member for ideas and to answer questions. In addition, you have the amazing NAfME network and the benefit of teaching your students the value of belonging to something bigger than themselves. This is a national program, and they can connect with others, enlarging their sense of community. I wish you the best as you continue to build your program, through music and service!

Resources: 

About the author:

Jessica Fiedorowicz headshot outsideNAfME member Jessica Fiedorowicz is in her 24th year as the Director of Orchestras at South Haven Public Schools (SHPS) in South Haven, Michigan. In 2017–2018, South Haven’s music department began a chapter of the Tri-M® Music Honor Society. Mrs. Fiedorowicz is the Chapter Advisor for the Junior chapter at Baseline Middle School. The Baseline Middle School Chapter was awarded the National Chapter of the Year award for the 2022–2023 school year. She is in her second term as the North Central Division Representative for the NAfME Music Honors Society Advisory Council.

Mrs. Fiedorowicz has served as the SHPS Music Department Chair since 2007, and in 2017, accepted the additional position of Team Based Teacher Leader for Fine and Applied Arts for the district. Her mission for her work with other faculty members and district administration is to ensure access to the arts for all students.

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The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) provides a number of forums for the sharing of information and opinion, including blogs and postings on our website, articles and columns in our magazines and journals, and postings to our Amplify member portal. Unless specifically noted, the views expressed in these media do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Association, its officers, or its employees.

April 2024 Teaching Music

Published Date

March 28, 2024

Category

  • Lifelong Learning
  • Program Development
  • Tri-M Honor Society

Copyright

March 28, 2024. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)

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