Tri-M Music Honor Society® Students Take Lead in Giving Back

Tri-M Music Honor Society® Students
Take the Lead in Giving Back

Honors Music Students Make a Difference in Their Community


By Catherina Hurlburt, NAfME Communications Manager

It was November, and the holiday season was fast approaching when a local florist reached out to Marblehead High School (Massachusetts) inviting a student group to run a “Wreath and Winter Greenery” fundraiser.

“Having pledged to raise $500.00 for the Give a Note Foundation, I made note of this fundraising opportunity,” said music educator Julie Frias, Marblehead’s Tri-M Music Honor Society® Chapter Advisor and NAfME member, “and the students of our Tri-M® Chapter voted to put the fundraiser into action at our meeting later that week. The students got to work quickly, as the turnaround time from their vote to the order deadline was only 13 days. They took the initiative to spread the word around both the school and wider community.”


Marblehead High School Tri-M Chapter Wreath Sale. Photo courtesy Julie Frias.


The Marblehead Tri-M students far exceeded their stated goal. The holiday wreath fundraiser along with their “Tri-M Tuesday” weekly fundraisers through UNO’s Pizzeria’s “Dough Rai$er” program resulted in a generous $1,150 gift to the Give a Note Foundation, an affiliate of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), among the world’s largest arts organizations.

Last October-December, Give a Note hosted a #MusicEdMatters giving campaign, inviting Tri-M chapters and NAfME Collegiate chapters to compete to raise the most donations for Give a Note. The two winning Tri-M chapters and two winning collegiate chapters would all garner a spot on the 2017 Music In Our Schools – Music Inspires Tour, the fourth annual Tour hosted by Give a Note to raise awareness for the importance of music education, and to provide $2,500 grants to music programs in underserved communities. The CMA Foundation will match those grants, and Radio Disney will host celebration concerts at the six winning schools.

Asked why they chose Give a Note as their charity of choice, Marblehead’s Tri-M President Margaret Ross replied, “Give a Note is important to us because our music department thrives, and we know how amazing it is to have a safe place to express ourselves through music.

“We want this for everyone,” continued Margaret, “and we want everyone to have the chance to express themselves through music. Music is a universal language; it is how we communicate. There is no doubt that music in our schools is essential.”

While the six winning schools on the 2017 Music In Our Schools Tour will receive grant checks, the 2017 Tour stops at the Tri-M chapters will feature those two schools giving back to Give a Note, as Tri-M students present checks from their fundraising efforts to the Give a Note Foundation. Marblehead High School is one of the two winning Tri-M chapter schools to garner a spot on the Tour, and will present Give a Note Foundation a check on April 6, 2017.

“These presentations are wonderful ‘pay it forward’ moments,” said Give a Note President and Board Chair Beth Slusher. “I am so proud of these generous and hard-working students who have demonstrated what leading and serving look like.”

And that is the essence of what the Tri-M Music Honor Society provides for both middle and high school students: leadership opportunities coupled with moments to give back to their communities and those of students who may not be as fortunate. A program of NAfME, Tri-M focuses on creating future leaders in music education and music advocacy. Tri-M is the only national honor society for student musicians in grades 6-12. There are more than 1,800 chapters across all 50 states, involving more than 75,000 students. Further, each year these students contribute more than 750,000 service hours to their schools and local communities, and raise more than $1 million for causes they care about. NAfME awards more than $2,000 in scholarships each year to chapters that demonstrate exceptional service and leadership.


Chapter 5075, Marblehead High School. Photo courtesy Julie Frias.


Marblehead Tri-M students work hard at creating future leaders in music education in their community. “Our Tri-M members volunteer at all of the middle school and elementary school concerts,” notes Julie Frias. “They are there early to help the younger students do everything from instrument tuning to finding the restrooms in the performance space. They pass out programs to community members, and make the opening ‘business’ announcements at all of the district concerts. For example, reminders to turn off cell phones and enter and exit only during applause come from the friendly faces of Tri-M. The Tri-M members then stay for the performance to model appropriate audience etiquette for the younger students, and assist the music teachers with any equipment changes that must take place on stage during the concert.”

“It is super fun to watch the young singers and instrumentalists who will soon take our places and to give them advice and support them on their journey,” added Marblehead senior Margaret Ross. “Showing them the opportunities that they’ll have in the future, and presenting our [Tri-M Honor] Society to the parents who are supporting their children, is extremely beneficial and special for us.”

Another “outstanding example of how Tri-M has enabled student leadership and service is how one of our members, Claire Caplan, asked to create a program through Tri-M that sent student musicians into our local nursing homes to perform for the residents,” Julie noted. “She personally coordinates the student visits with the nursing homes, and schedules the student musicians. I love that students are being encouraged to serve and lead using a medium [music] that they are passionate about!”

Asked why she is involved in Tri-M, Marblehead High School junior Sophie Berman responded, “I want to come together with a group of people dedicated to their craft [so we can] inspire each other to positively influence the lives of others with the power of music. Tri-M not only supports Marblehead’s music programs by connecting musicians from different concentrations and ages, but it enriches the Marblehead community with music. 

“I have played in Tri-M chamber groups at the Lafayette Nursing Home, seeing the joy we could give people,” Sophie continued. “For the past few years I have helped younger children at annual concerts and seen their musicianship and confidence grow. Tri-M’s core purpose is, in essence, the mission of Give a Note—to use music as a vehicle of change.  Music for many of us in Marblehead High School Tri-M is not just an activity, but a chunk of our soul and life, as it has cultivated our development as people, [encouraging] us to form relationships and be proud of concerts made possible by hard work. We believe no child should be denied the opportunity to learn music.”


“Being in Tri-M [means] giving back to the program that made my fellow members and me who we are today.”


NAfME provides its members a plethora of tools to easily implement and maintain a Tri-M Music Honor Society chapter in their middle or high school, including a justification toolkit to make the case with their administration for a Tri-M chapter. An NASSP-approved honor society, Tri-M’s annual fee for each chapter is $100. Tri-M student members must be enrolled in at least one music class for at least one semester, have a 2.0 GPA in their core classes, and a 3.0 in their music class(es), and be of strong character.

Tri-M is a wonderful way to recognize the outstanding music students in each school and to emphasize the importance of music education in shaping the leaders of tomorrow. It is also a way for teachers to highlight their music program and make an impact in their communities through public performances and service projects. And Tri-M motivates students to take on leadership roles within the chapter and develop key skills for future success.

“Music has always been an influential part of my childhood,” said Marblehead Tri-M Chapter President Margaret Ross. “Being in Tri-M [means] giving back to the program that made my fellow members and me who we are today.”

Tri-M Music Honor Society® Resources

Brendan McAloon, Marketing and Events Coordinator, February 2, 2017. © National Association for Music Education (