An Overview of the Program

The Tri-M Music Honor Society is the international music honor society for middle/junior high and high school students. It is designed to recognize students for their academic and musical achievements, reward them for their accomplishments and service activities, and to inspire other students to excel at music and leadership. Through more than 5,500 chartered chapters, Tri-M has helped thousands of young people provide years of service through music in schools throughout the world.

Tri-M shares and supports the objectives of every dedicated music educator—to increase student and school involvement with music and to make a stronger and more unified school music program. Tri-M offers a complete system of rewards that helps inspire students and recognizes excellence in individuals and chapters. With this system, the society builds self-esteem and provides a channel of personal fulfillment.

Tri-M is a program of MENC: The National Association for Music Education, the largest nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of music education. Through its many programs, activities, publications, and conferences, MENC addresses all aspects of music education and works to ensure that every student can be a part of a balanced, comprehensive, and high-quality program of music instruction.

Tri-M was founded in 1936 by Alexander and Frances Harley, incorporated and renamed Modern Music Masters in 1952, and recognized in 1983 as the Tri-M Music Honor Society, a program of MENC: The National Association for Music Education.


A Word from the Founder

If we strive to cultivate musical sensitivity and perception in our students, we must likewise give adequate recognition for their efforts and achievements, and we must inspire them to strive for higher goals. In what better way than by bestowing upon them life membership in a worldwide honorary organization for musical youth?
– Alexander Harley, Founder, Tri-M Music Honor Society


About the Logo

The Tri-M Music Honor Society logo is rich in symbolism. The three Ms stand for “Modern Music Masters,” the society’s original name. Music is represented by the lyre and the scroll, which denote accomplishment and service. The five lines of the music staff indicate the five criteria upon which members are selected: scholarship, character, cooperation, leadership, and service.

Why you should be a Tri-M Member

  • The Tri-M Music Honor Society® recognizes and rewards students based on their accomplishments and service activities. Isn’t it nice to be thanked for all you do?
  • Having a Tri-M chapter at your school gives a boost to your school music program. Don’t you love helping your music teachers be recognized for their hard work?
  • Chapter service and community activities show the entire community how important music is in your school. So, the next time it comes to budget cuts, your chapter activities can help make sure that music stays in your school!
  • Tri-M is a chance for all members of your music program—meaning both the vocalists and the instrumentalists—to work together toward common goals under the leadership of school faculty. Isn’t it great when we can all get along?
  • Tri-M gives you the chance to learn new skills through service activities and taking leadership of chapter projects. Don’t you love learning?

The History of Tri-M

  • 1936—Alexander Harley and his wife Frances founded the Maine Music Masters at Maine Township High School in Park Ridge, IL.
  • 1952—Maine Music Masters became incorporated and was renamed Modern Music Masters.
  • 1954—The first individual member recognition, known as the Top-Notcher Certificate of Achievement, was presented. This certificate was renamed Tri-M® Leadership in 2002.
  • 1971—First Master Musician Certificate was presented.
  • 1983—Modern Music Masters became a program of MENC: The National Association for Music Education and was officially renamed the Tri-M Music Honor Society.
  • 1986—The first year Tri-M was recognized by the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) as an approved program.
  • 1989—The first State Conference Achievement Recognition was presented to Tri-M members accepted to All-State Honor Ensembles. This certificate was renamed Honor Ensemble Achievement in 2003.
  • 2002—State Chapter of the Year recognition was given in addition to the National Chapter of the Year.
  • 2002—The Top-Notcher Recognition was renamed Tri-M Leadership.
  • 2003—The State Conference Achievement Recognition was renamed Honor Ensemble Achievement and was expanded to recognize Tri-M member participation in state, division, and national honor ensembles.
  • 2003—The first Tri-M Outstanding Service Recognition was presented.
  • 2004—The first Tri-M Alumni Achievement Recognition was presented.