Tri-M Music Honor Society Restored to Boise High


Photo Credit: National Association of Music Education

National Association of Music hopes schools implement as a program that, "recognizes students for their academic and musical achievements...and inspires other students to excel at music and leadership."

Callie Rice, Managing Editor

Shelved away for the past twenty years, the Tri-M Music Honor Society had been dormant and unexplored at Boise High. With its official debut this year, Tri-M’s purpose is to create unity among Boise High music students and serve as an opportunity for them to be actively involved in serving their community through the performing arts. As the 2019-2020 school year kicks off, students in any music class can apply to meet other musically inclined individuals and become an official member of Tri-M.

Choir, orchestra, and band teachers – Mr. Burton, Mrs. Olswanger, and Ms. Talley – made the decision to resurrect Tri-M last spring, but had previously discussed the decision over the last several years before finally putting it in motion.

In its early stages, initiation from the students was crucial as Tri-M relies heavily on student collaboration and problem solving to move the program along. Tri-M students meet biweekly with new agendas set for each session, with the music teachers  acting as advisors, guiding from the sidelines.

“…the organization itself is a developer of leadership…” Mr. Burton said, referring to the fact that it is the students who make decisions regarding Tri-M’s projects. This includes managing funds, the volunteering schedule, deciding what services to provide, and brainstorming fresh approaches to promote all the music departments.

Not only do Tri-M students develop synergistic skills, but they connect with peers who are involved in different branches of music. Mrs. Olswanger stressed the importance of forming positive relationships – between colleagues and students alike – for the sake of being on the same page: to establish a unified music department.

Incidentally, it is common for schools to cultivate a considerably competitive culture between music departments, instituting separation rather than togetherness. Ms. Talley explained that even though this type of mentality isn’t prevalent in Boise High, she believes Tri-M can solidify those bridges. “We’re just increasing our own students’ desire to be more involved…and not just in their own little island.” She stated.

Tri-M offers a platform for Boise High musicians to be creative in the ways they communicate, as well as how they represent the music department inside and outside of school. The extent of talent, titles, or past accomplishments are not the determining factors on what makes a Tri-M student successful.

“It’s so much about character and desire for that community…” Ms. Talley said, adding that a sense of harmony between Boise High musicians encourages them to seek out new musical performances and experiences in areas other than their own.

It’s about “…understanding how we’re similar…but…different; [we] can appreciate those nuances more,” Mr. Burton said.

It’s about sharing a love for music, for conversation, and celebrating the combined effort dedicated towards reaching out through Tri-M, growing in strength and leadership. As Mrs. Olswanger said, “…instead of fighting over pieces of the pie, we’re just going to make the pie bigger and everybody gets to win.”