The Tri-M® Music Honor Society is NAfME’s international honor society for middle/junior-high and high school students. This National Association for Music Education (NAfME) program recognizes students for their academic and musical achievements, rewards them for their accomplishments and service activities, and inspires other students to excel at music and leadership.
Tri-M® offers many different advantages: not only does it create community within your music department, it also benefits your school and community as well.
Here, one NAfME member and her students talk about why Tri-M is important to them.
Pride in Achievement
In addition to recognition of service as they apply or the Tri-M Chapter of the Year, chapter members receive local media attention and respect from their peers. Students are acknowledged for their service in the community and within the individual chapters as well.
Noreen Diamond Burdett is the Tri-M Advisor at Milton (Massachusetts) High School. She is also the director of Fine Arts & Family/Consumer Studies. On April 15, 23 new students were inducted into the Milton Tri-M chapter.
Burdett says that “the best thing about Tri-M is the pride it instills in our students. They excel in music and performance and they enjoy being ‘rewarded’ for their hard work and achievements. It is the only group that combines the students of the various performing groups. They usually don’t work together because they are so busy rehearsing in their own separate groups. Tri-M gives them a unified goal and makes them feel part of a larger team.”
Burdett feels that what her Tri-M students “enjoy the most is tutoring students who need extra help. They set up one day a week after school, and at least one student stays after to help. They coordinate it so it is the same day that the written homework is given out in the performing groups. . . . They LOVE to teach.”
Burdett also points out that her Tri-M members not only help out their school, but “also serve as helpers for our middle school concerts, and at our Massachusetts All State Conference. They are working on a huge project right now—making an up-to-date database of all of the chorus/band/string/jazz music that we have.”
At the end of the year, Tri-M members can earn graduation cords, stoles, and tassels and Burdett says her students “have definitely earned the pink tassels they will wear with pride at graduation.”
Emma Chinman, a senior at Milton High School, will be one of them. She says she’s enjoyed being a Tri-M member because she likes “helping the music department, mentoring the freshman, [and] tutoring for midterms.”
Another Milton senior, Garrett Sager, agrees. “I have the opportunity to volunteer at various festivals and conferences,” he added.
Another senior, Monika Cormack, also enjoys working in the chapter mentoring program. “When I was a freshman I didn’t have someone who could help me or answer my questions, and being able to do that for freshmen is really rewarding,” she says. “I have also become close friends with some of my freshmen ‘mentees’ and I have enjoyed being able to make their transition into high school seamless.”
Good leaders are good servants. So those service opportunities Tri-M provides students also teaches leadership skills, from decision-making and planning, to holding positions in the honor society, to influencing younger students to get involved and become leaders themselves—as well as seeking out opportunities for learning and growth.
“I get to share my viewpoint on ways to unite the music department,” said Sager. “I get to induct new members into the organization. I really appreciate the fact that I play a role in forming new relationships between members of the music groups at MHS.”
“Music has always been a big part of my life,” added Chinman. “I have taken lessons for both flute and guitar, and I have [taken] chorus all four years [of high school]. I intend to have music be in my life for a long time, and I am honored to have been a part of MHS’s music department and Tri-M.”
Time Management and Being Well-Rounded
Tri-M students are often involved in many other activities at school as well. Ambitious involvement necessitates time management.
Cormack feels that “the great thing about Tri-M is that we can all be involved in a lot of other activities at school. I have been able to be involved in groups like our school’s National Honor Society, French Club, Recycling Club, Best Buddies, the school newspaper, photography and a variety of other groups and clubs.”
Being well-rounded lends itself to future opportunities. “I will be attending school in either Massachusetts or New York City to study theatre or communications,” noted Sager. “Outside of school, I participate in various plays in the Boston area. I am the Vice President of the National Honor Society.”
“Next year I will be attending the University of New Hampshire as a social work major,” said Chinman. “In addition to being in the music program at Milton High School, I am in the GSA, outdoors club, and I have played soccer and run indoor and outdoor track all four years of high school.”
In Tri-M, students join one big family. Chinman said she enjoyed “feeling like you are part of a community” during her time in Tri-M. “I can say that I am part of an international organization dedicated to music,” adds Sager.
Cormack also enjoys “being able to get everyone from all of the ensembles together. With over four different performing ensembles that meet throughout the day, it is not often that the entire music department can get together. Our Tri-M chapter is responsible for get-togethers for the entire music department, and, although it seems like a small task, it is great to see everyone in the music department connecting and having fun with each other.”
She adds that not only does Tri-M help the community, but that Tri-M is a community unto itself. Cormack appreciates “the fact that Tri-M is an international group so you can find Tri-M members at virtually any [secondary] school!”
Have questions about Tri-M? Contact the Tri-M Program Manager Kristen Rencher.
Learn more about Tri-M and start a Tri-M Chapter in 3 easy steps!
All images provided by Emma Chinman, Senior at Milton High School.