Georgia Tri-M Chapter Members Sing Irish Tunes to Raise Money for MENC's MusicFriends

Members of the River Trail Middle School Tri-M® Chapter 5823 in Johns Creek, Georgia, used the St. Patrick’s Day holiday to demonstrate their musical skills and raise money for music education advocacy. During one week, the students raised $400 for MENC advocacy programs.

Band directors Angela Reynolds and Jennifer Compton, Chapter 5823’s advisors, said chapter members sold “Singing Shamrocks” to the RTMS student body.

For a $2 donation, students could send a written message on a shamrock-shaped note, a lollipop, and a musical serenade to a fellow student. Tri-M members prepared traditional Irish tunes to serenade the recipients. Vocal and instrumental duettists and brass and string quartets performed the serenades.

Students donated the money raised to MENC’s Fund for the Advancement of Music Education (FAME) and to MusicFriends, a grassroots advocacy group. In total, the RTMS Tri-M Chapter raised $400 for music education advocacy.

Reynolds answered some questions about the fundraising efforts and the music program at River Trail Middle School.

Q: What types of fundraisers has your Tri-M chapter done in the past?
This is our second year with a Tri-M chapter and our first fundraiser. Last year we did a food drive as a community service project. We collected over 1500 pounds of food for the Atlanta Area Community Food Bank. This year we wanted to do a musical fundraiser that would benefit a musical endeavor.

Q: Where did you get the idea to do the Shamrock serenades?
The idea came up in a beginning of the year planning meeting with the chapter officers. We originally wanted to do something like a singing telegram for Valentine’s Day, but decided to do the project during March because March is Music in Our Schools Month®. We decided St. Patrick’s Day would be a great holiday for the Shamrock Serenades.

Q: How did you schedule the serenades? Did they have to be before or after classes?
Our students attend two Connections classes each day. Connections classes are the band, chorus, orchestra, PE, health, computer, art, etc. All Connections classes are separated by grade level (7th grade in the morning, 8th grade midday, and 6th grade at the end of the day).

In order to minimize classroom disruptions, the serenades were presented during the first Connections class for each grade level. The recipients in each class all received a handwritten note on a shamrock and a lollipop. The Tri-M students presented one song per class instead of one song per recipient.

Tri-M members advertised the week before St. Patrick’s Day with posters and on the school morning announcements. The serenades were pre-sold to the student body before school in the front entrance.

Students who purchased shamrocks had to include the recipient’s name, grade, and first Connections class as well as a handwritten note. We held a Tri-M meeting the day before the delivery to separate the shamrocks by grade level and Connections class.

Q: Did you have to work with the school administration on the project?
Yes. We asked the principal for permission to do the fundraiser. We also explained the delivery process and the plan to donate the funds raised to FAME and MusicFriends to make sure all district and school policies were followed.

Q: Could you share a little about your music program (types of classes, number of students, classes you teach)?
River Trail Middle School currently enrolls 1574 students in grades 6-8. Band, chorus, and orchestra are offered as yearlong classes. We also teach general music classes, which are quarterlong. The band and orchestra programs have nearly 300 students each, and the chorus program has about 150 students. Our music staff includes Ms. Compton and me [Angela Reynolds] who are the band directors, two orchestra teachers, and a chorus teacher.

2009-2010 River Trail Middle School Tri M Chapter #5823 Members.

Vocalist Parker Cutler (left) presents a shamrock to Alex Everett (right).

Flutists Rachel Zhu (left) and Rachel Dai (right) serenade students.

Violinists Andrew Suh (left) and Chapter Vice President Justin Lee (right) from the “Singing Shamrock” string quartet.

Chapter Historian Josh Tam (far left) advertises the charity fundraiser to fellow students.

Photos courtesy of Angela Reynolds

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Roz Fehr, May 6, 2010 © MENC: The National Association for Music Education