Pi Kappa Lambda (PKL): The Music Honor Society
While most national music associations have open membership, Pi Kappa Lambda is the music honor society whose members are carefully hand-picked.
“Pi Kappa Lambda is truly an honor society,” says executive director Mark Lochstampfor, who is also chair of the Conservatory of Music at Capital University. “It 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.”
How are members selected?
College juniors and seniors as well as graduate students are eligible for membership. Juniors must be in the top 10% of their class and seniors in the top 20%, while grad students are required to have grades of “A” in 2/3 of their classes. 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?
There is a one-time induction fee when one joins PKL.
What’s the benefit of being a member?
PKL membership 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.
What is the honors program? Is it different than a double major? My daughter has a 4.57GPA going in to her senior year and a 2120 on her SAT. She is passionate about vocal performance, but is also highly committed to academic excellence, but she doesn’t necessarily want to double major.
Thanks for enlightening me. .
Many schools have honors programs, where academically-strong students can take their non-music arts and sciences required courses. Classes are typically small, and more challenging and analytical. Students in honors programs tend to be from many departments within the overall school, which allows for a rich cross-pollination of ideas across disciplines. As a music major (or any other major), it is not necessary to double major in order to take advantage of an honors program.
My son had this issue when applying to colleges. He chose to apply to dual degree programs. Look for universities that either offer either dual degree programs with their own music school or local conservatories.
Great advice! Check this article out: Dual Degrees, Double Majors, and Music Minors.