Tri-M® Service Projects: Lessen Your Load while Inspiring Future Music Educators!

By NAfME Member Hannah E. Cole
NAfME Music Honor Society Advisory Council (Tri-M®) Co-Chair-Elect
Tri-M Chapter 6609 Advisor
Director of Bands, Coventry High School, Coventry, Connecticut

Do you ever have days where you wish there were at least two more of you? Here’s where Tri-M® Music Honor Society (Tri-M®) can help you out! Let your Tri-M students lessen your load through service projects. Who knows, you may even inspire some students to become future music educators in the process!

Earlier this year, I wrote a newsletter for NAfME Tri-M about letting your student leaders fail in order to succeed. You can find that newsletter linked here for your reference. In that newsletter, I talked about how in the beginning you do have to put in the time to establish systems and procedures for your student leaders. However, once those systems are in place, you will easily get back this time through the work of your Tri-M students!

Service Project Ideas

Service projects are the biggest way Tri-M students can help to lighten the load for music teachers. Below are a few of the projects that my Tri-M students do and how we implement those at my school:

Concert Help

Tri-M students help with the following aspects:

  • Volunteer to print the programs
  • Volunteer to make the program into a QR code poster, coordinate printing it in a poster size, and get it laminated by the LMC specialist
  • An officer will create a sign-up sheet and organize helpers for each concert. This includes volunteers to pass out programs, a volunteer to watch the donation box, someone to stay and record the concert, and having extra help backstage at the elementary and middle school concerts.
  • If needed, volunteers to help set-up and clean-up the stage.

While these are all tasks I could do myself, once I put the systems in place so students know what needs to be done, my Tri-M students do all of this on their own with no help from me!

Equipment, Literature, and Physical Classroom Management

Every fall and spring, Tri-M students help with the following:

  • Go through the physical instrument inventory and spreadsheet to be sure everything is accounted for. This can also include play-testing and potentially fixing instruments if the student is able to.
  • Go through the physical music literature inventory and spreadsheet to be sure everything is accounted for. This also includes making sure each box is in score order and that all parts are accounted for, or put on a to-order list.
  • Set-up the room for the new year or break it down for the summer. This includes fixing loose stands, cleaning out storage lockers, vacuuming the podium, and more.

Again, once I put together a checklist of what to do for each task, the Tri-M students do all of these things on their own while I work on other things that only I can do!

Pre-K Music Lessons

A few years ago, our school system added a Preschool as an extension to the building I work in. Shortly after this, I was asked if I could offer some sort of music enrichment for the Pre-K students as they do not have any specials. I immediately thought of my Tri-M students as the perfect group to help with this, and they jumped at the opportunity!

Every fall, I provide the Tri-M student chairing Pre-K Music with a lesson template and some song books that align with the curriculum we use in kindergarten through fifth grade. From there, that student works with their committee to pick the songs and activities they want to use and puts it into the lesson template. This lesson is shared with the entire chapter, the committee makes copies of the lesson, and then teaches this lesson to the chapter before we head to the Pre-K.

Once I made the lesson template and organized the resources, the Tri-M students were able to do everything for the lesson themselves with very minimal help from me.

Inspiring Future Music Educators

In my limited experience, all of my students who have gone into music or music education have been in Tri-M. Tri-M is a great pathway to inspire our future music educators. How do the above service projects, and others not listed, potentially inspire future music educators? By providing real-life experiences of what the job is like, both the fun and not so fun tasks, students have a better understanding of what being a music educator is really like.

The Pre-K music lessons are fun for my Tri-M students and provide them with an authentic teaching experience. Those Tri-M students who go into music have a good understanding of how to create a general music lesson and have some potential resources already. On the flip side of that, I don’t know about you, but in college we did not talk about how to maintain an instrument inventory or all of the other things it takes to run a concert other than teaching the music. The Tri-M students who want to go into music have the opportunity to learn about and help with the behind-the-scenes part of being a music teacher that is not necessarily taught in a college program, and sometimes isn’t experienced during student teaching.

smiling teacher and students working together in a classroom

Photo: Maskot / DigitalVision Collection via Getty Images

By having Tri-M students complete service projects that make our teacher life easier, they are:

  • Fulfilling their service obligations of being a Tri-M member.
  • Bettering the school music department and community at large through their service projects.
  • Learning to lead by using the systems put in place by the music teacher so they can take care of the service projects and have full autonomy.
  • Getting a glimpse into what it takes to be a music teacher, both the fun part, teaching and working with students, and the not so fun part of paperwork and spreadsheets! Experiencing the fun might inspire Tri-M students to pursue a career in music or music education, and experiencing the not so fun tasks will give them a head start when they do start their career.

What Are You Waiting For?

Feeling overwhelmed with EVERYTHING you have to do as a music teacher? Start a Tri-M chapter!

Looking for more investment from your students? Start a Tri-M chapter!

Know you have students who should go into music education, but don’t know how to convince them? Start a Tri-M chapter!

Already have a chapter? Get creative and find projects that will make your life easier, and potentially help train the next generation of music educators!

About the author:

headshot of Hannah E. Cole with trumpetHannah E. Cole serves as the Band Director at Coventry High School (CHS) in Coventry, Connecticut. She also serves as the Tri-M Advisor and K–12 Music Department Coordinator. Under her guidance, CHS Tri-M Chapter 6609 won the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) CT Chapter of the Year for the 2021–22 school year. Hannah has taught all levels of band, starting her career teaching elementary band for two years before moving to middle school band for two years and now teaching at the high school level for the past six years. Hannah received both her Bachelor’s and Master’s of Music in Music Education from The Hartt School at the University of Hartford. She is an active member of NAfME, Connecticut Music Educators Association (CMEA), and the American School Band Directors Association. Hannah currently serves as the CMEA Professional Development Chair, the 2025 NAfME All Eastern Ensemble Chair, and NAfME Music Honor Society Advisory Council Co-Chair-Elect.

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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

April 18, 2024


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  • Tri-M Honor Society


April 18, 2024. © National Association for Music Education (

April 2024 Teaching Music
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