Tri-M Plays Well in Any Key

This summer has been an exciting time for me as I begin my term as the National Chair for Tri-M Music Honor Society.  In June, I was a participant at the NAfME Leadership Conference in Baltimore, Maryland.  It was there that I began to understand the scope of Tri-M and its important mission in the lives of today’s schools and their music students.

Many analogies exist between the Tri-M Music Honor Society and the National Honor Society.  NHS was formed in 1921, a mere 15 years before Tri-M.  They share many of the same ideals with one large exception—Tri-M seeks to enrich the lives and provide additional growth to talented music students in our world’s middle and secondary schools.

Tri-M is the NHS for music students.  Why would we not want to recognize the students that have excelled in music performance, scholarship, and leadership? 

The winds of change are blowing and I ask you to consider reactivating your chapter or beginning a chapter at your school.  In this uncertain time for education, the more visible our students and programs become, the more difficult it might be to eliminate or reduce their influence in our schools and communities.

Below is a list of five easy Tri-M Service Projects!

  1. Have TRI-M officers organize chapter members to serve as ushers at music concerts in your school. They can also assist with clean up after the concerts
  2. Around contest season, organize officers to set up a nursing home performance by TRI-M members. Experience shows me that about 6-7 students fills an hour nicely.
  3. Organize officers to set up student performances outside of the main office, cafeteria, atrium, music corridor or other high traffic area immediately before or after school. Perhaps once a week or once a month.
  4. Organize officers to offer assistance to other music teachers in your district with set up, teardown, ushering, or other appropriate task for their concerts.
  5. Organize officers to plan and execute a clean up the music department activity.

These are easy ways to invigorate your chapter.  A more complete list can be found on the NAfME website at  It’s called Chapter Service Projects and there you’ll find actual projects done by chapters around the world.  I’ve been working to expand this list and it has wonderful ideas to try.  It also includes the chapter location should you wish to contact the sponsor.  I’m always looking to increase the list so don’t hesitate to contact me if you have more ideas to add!

Finally, this spring, we will be implementing a new way to select Tri-M chapter of the year.  We will be vetting applications through each state and then selecting one Chapter to be advanced to the National Level.

NOW is the time to put a plan in motion.  The National Chapter Of the Year and the first runner up are the recipient of a rather large scholarship.  This is a great way to focus the work of your chapter during this school year.  I hope you will consider taking part in this program.

In closing, it is an honor to serve as your state and national chair.  I am extremely enthused to be in a position to affect real change and make our organization purposeful as it approaches its 80th  birthday.  Please let me know if there is anything I can do to make TRI-M better for your school.


Patrick S Barnett

TRI-M National Chair

Illinois State Chair

Fine Arts Department Chair

Maine West High School