When is the best time for students to join?
Chris Orlando, at Temple University Boyer College of Music and Dance, joined NAfME and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia as a freshman. When he found out about the National Band Association as a junior, he joined NBA as well. “I don’t necessary think you need to join as soon as you start college,” he says. “In fact, I can see the benefit of taking your first semester or even first year to get acclimated to your studies and college life. However, I do not suggest waiting until your junior, or even worse, senior year, because you do not get access to the resources others have had available to them. The earlier you join, the more time you have to network and make connections.”
On the other hand…
Bradley Green, grad student at Appalachian State, encourages students to “join on the first day of freshman year.” To Green, “It is never too early to start integrating yourself into the professional world, especially by attending lectures and workshops at the conferences. In addition to providing the same benefit as the undergraduate-focused societies, this also allows students to begin to meet and network with professionals working in their intended field before a transition to graduate school. Since so many academic music fields are full of many different potential research topics, it will help students to be able to find professors who research and write on some of the same subjects the students are interested in.”
And for grad students…
“For the organizations that focus more on graduate level students or the professoriate, like the College Music Society or the Society for Music Theory or the Society of Ethnomusicology, joining by the time you reach junior year would be optimal,” says Drew Griffen from Appalachian State.
Are there fees for joining?
Most of the national organizations offer a significantly reduced fee to members of college chapters. To absorb some of the costs of attending conferences, student chapters often fundraise and get financial assistance from their schools.
Pi Kappa Lambda (PKL): The Music Honor Society
Unlike most national music associations, Pi Kappa Lambda is a music honor society whose members are carefully hand-picked.
According to PKL’s Executive Director Mark Lochstampfor, chair of the Conservatory of Music at Capital University, PKL “exemplifies excellence in academics and musicianship.”
Many music schools across the country have PKL chapters, and a new crop of juniors, seniors, and grad students are inducted each year. According to Sue Haug, former PKL president and director of the School of Music at Penn State University, “Once inducted, you are a member for life.”
Eligible members are college juniors and seniors, as well as graduate students. Juniors must be in the top 10% of their class; seniors in the top 20%. Grad students are required to have grades of A in 2/3 of their classes to be eligible. PKL faculty members nominate candidates based on academic qualifications as well as “the merits of each nominee, to affirm that the person is making a contribution to the music world,” says Rebecca Jemian, PKL member and associate professor of music theory at Ithaca College School of Music.
Is there a fee for membership?
Yes, there is a one-time induction fee when one joins PKL.
Membership in PKL is an acknowledgment of excellence in both academics and music. It’s the music version of Phi Beta Kappa for Bachelor of Music students, since PBK does not consider BM majors. According to Rebecca Jemian at Ithaca, music job applicants in college settings are apt to be considered more seriously if they’ve been inducted into PKL. “I think of PKL in my career as a self-reminder that I want to strive to be the best that I can be,” she says.
According to Ithaca senior and PKL member David Geary, BM candidate in Music Education and Music Theory, “The network of outstanding musicians is the Society’s greatest strength.”
PKL commissions a chamber music work every other year, composed for the honor society by either a faculty at a post-secondary institution or a PKL member. The composer receives a monetary award and their work is premiered at the annual meetings of Pi Kappa Lambda and The College Music Society annual meeting.
National Music Association Links:
For me, the best part of these organizations are the conferences, because I always leave them with my head spinning with new ideas.”
— Bradley Green