What’s a Tri-M?


Liam Grant

Johanna Golden, Caroline Peck, Erin Moynahan, Patrick Bloniasz, Evan Lafrance, and Frank Pugh.

Liam Grant, A&E Editor

Much like the Illuminati or the Freemasons, Hollis Brookline too has a secret society of its own.

Monthly, under the cover of the mid morning haze amongst the students within the building, a group of HB’s finest musicians meet to discuss the betterment of musicianship within the community, from planning their own expeditions to organizing a ring of underground community service efforts.

Tri-M acts as a much underappreciated musical honors society that strives to strengthen Hollis-Brookline’s music program. It is designed to help its members reach their musical potential through recognition of achievements, putting emphasis on our music program by reaching out and giving back to the local community through community service efforts. Music-wise it gives opportunity to those participating to be able to reach their musical goals, ultimately providing a space in which they can both benefit the community and themselves as musicians. “The point of Tri-M is to have music be incorporated into our daily lives, and the way that we give back is that we use our musical talents… We use everything we’ve learned from our love of music to help the community in any manner,” said Tri-M President Frank Pugh ‘18.

Tri-M at HB consists of most everyone and everything musical; members include those who are in any of HB’s first rate choir or band classes. Students are eligible for membership as long as they maintain a B average in their music classes, a B average in all of their academic courses, are presently enrolled in a music course, and are recommended for membership by one of several of our music teachers. Still the society reaches out to students for membership and not the other way around. Even if you do manage to find a way in, you may still have to learn a secret handshake or two along the way, but not any the members were willing to let me in on, Pugh said he had “No comment” regarding the existence of a Tri-M secret handshake and Johanna Golden ‘19 who said “I am sorry but I cannot disclose that information at this time. I can tell you though…if there was I would teach you.”

Little to the knowledge of the majority of Hollis-Brookline students, Tri-M is not actually intended to be confidential. In actuality, Tri-M is a program of the National Association for Musical Education, HB’s chapter being one of 6,200 across several countries. While the New Orleans trip this year may have seemed like a Tri-M covert op, you can rest assured that Tri-M is not intended to commit acts of righteousness under the shelter of night. Simply put, this group of humble musicians and their impact on the community has just gone generally unnoticed.

Much unknown to the commoner, Tri-M members are required to complete ten hours of annual community service as well as attend and perform in at least two Union Coffee open mic nights, which are intended for and reach the community. “The open mic nights are Tri-M sponsored events where we get a group of people and go to Union Coffee to perform. It’s one of our ways to gain funding, as we ask for donations…it’s also just another way that allows us to do music in a recreational way,” Pugh mentioned. If that is not enough, HB’s Tri-M students put on several different performances annually such as the Chamber Recital. Tri-M member Patrick Bloniasz ‘18 said “it’s [Tri-M is] a great opportunity to be able to do community service through music so it really puts a high focus on being conscience of your community and to serve, bringing the joy and connection that music has to the folks who need it. This year we had the wonderful opportunity to go to a food pantry around Thanksgiving, we were able to work with the homeless and the needy and we were able to perform for them and in some cases even perform with them. I think it is just another dimension of being able to serve.”

However, most community members, even musicians, are unaware that our students are performing locally, specifically at Union Coffee. In defence, Bloniasz said, “I think it’s just a product of us being really bad at spreading news. I think it’s something that’s relatively new. It’s slowly starting to take off because every Tri-M member is required to perform at two different open mics, and while that’s the requirement, the goal is to be able to not only go more but to bring other people who aren’t in Tri-M in order to create that sense of community. I think it’s a great outlet to be able to bring your own music and your passions and your different tastes in the arts to neighboring communities. So hopefully it will be something we can bring to not just Union but in the future places like A&E or other community outlets that bring something, like high level musicianship, that seems off limits to very select amounts of people. So while I don’t think a lot of people know about it right now I think through different marketing efforts and word of mouth we will be able to get where we want.” While members can attend any open mic night, which are held every Friday, the society usually masses at Union the second Friday of every month.

On top of their already high standards for their members, students involved do additional musical volunteering. Ever wonder who is singing the anthem at all those basketball home games you know and love? Most of the time it is students involved trying to fill volunteering requirements, since Tri-M students do everything from anthem singing to nursing home concerts in order to give our students and our music program an audience.  

As for what’s left for Tri-M this year, a few more performances like the Chamber Recital on May 16 in the HB auditorium, as well as the extravagant Arts, Theater, and Music awards, which Bloniasz explained is “kind of like the Grammys”. The ATAM awards give recognition throughout the performing arts department, both theatrical and musical, in a professional, Oscar-like, format even layed out with a red carpet. Following the awards is when the induction ceremony for next year’s Tri-M students will take place. “We have about twenty three people in Tri-M and about half of them are leaving at the end of this year. It’s going to be a big loss mostly for the band kids. There are going to be a lot of new band members but I think they will get accustomed to it fairly quickly,” said Pugh. And while it’s always difficult losing seniors Johanna believes “Tri-M will be in good hands next year.” The ATAM’s, like most Tri-M events, are open to the public so even if you aren’t a musician and you’re just interested in the mystery behind Tri-M you’re welcome to come be apart of the community that this honors society is working towards making.