Angela Reynolds’s Tri-M® students at River Trail Middle School in Johns Creek, Georgia, think big. Two years ago they wanted their efforts to have a national impact and visited the MENC website. After looking at scholarship opportunities, they wanted to support something with a broader reach and decided on the Fund to Advance Music Education (FAME). FAME is an MENC-administered program that seeks to improve and expand music education at the local, state and national levels.
River Trail’s Tri-M chapter officers. Band director Jennifer Compton is at the far right on the first row. Band director Angela Reynolds is far right, second row.
In 2010 the chapter raised $400, and it raised another $300 this year through events including a “Luck of the Irish” Fundraiser. Members collected $2 for a lollipop and a rendition of an Irish song. The fundraiser in March also had a Music In Our Schools Month® (MIOSM®) theme.
The fund-raising effort also taught the 100-member chapter organizational skills, Reynolds said. Each member of the Tri-M chapter worked on committees with tasks associated with the fundraiser so each student had a direct role in the success of the fundraiser.
“Our concert band classes are pretty interested in doing good things, but they need a little leadership, and that is where the Tri-M chapter came in. I tried to get them to see there was a need, that there was something we could do to help,” Reynolds said.
The students received some real-world experience along those lines recently when proposed budget cuts in the Fulton County schools threatened music programs there. The student collected signatures on petitions and advocated on behalf of the music program.
Despite these efforts, the elementary music program was eliminated. In the past, fourth and fifth graders took instrumental music. In the future students who move up to River Trail will not have had that instruction. "They see what the impact of that will be," Reynolds said of her students.
Reynolds described River Trail Middle School Tri-M members as “high achieving” students who want to share with the community the benefits of a high-quality music program. Other recent projects include a food drive to help stock a local food bank.
–Roz Fehr, June 15, 2011 © MENC: The National Association for Music Education