Music Mentorship in Shaker: Tri M organizes virtual “masterclasses” with elementary school student musicians


Anna Ryu, Editor-in-Chief

The pandemic has forced the music community into a pause—particularly in the elementary schools where students are just beginning to explore the world of music. Social distancing, face-concealing masks, and Zoom have instead pushed music to contort in unfamiliar ways, and these students have missed out on much of the community and collectivity that music creates, in addition to foundational education on the instruments and voice techniques themselves.

In a regular year, North Colonie offers various programs and opportunities that foster these intra-district connections through music. The 11-12 Orchestra and Wind Ensemble from the High School put on an exciting and educational show for 3rd-grade students every February, various musical groups from the Junior High demo and let elementary school students try their instruments, and the annual All-District concert allows musicians from across the schools to perform on the same stage. 

The absence of these events have raised concerns for a potential drop in interest, participation, and knowledge of music for the young students.


The Music Masterclasses

In an effort to keep the mentorship, community, and magic of music alive during Music in Our Schools Month, the Tri-M chapter at Shaker High School organized a series of virtual “Music Masterclasses” on Saturday, March 27. A group of fourteen juniors and seniors from Tri-M volunteered to lead various music-related masterclasses for elementary school students from across the district. 

Six masterclasses were offered to students from kindergarten through the sixth grade, and each hour-long class was hosted virtually on Zoom throughout the afternoon. 

The classes focused on:

  • Singing & Rhythm Games (Grades K-3) 
  • Intro to instruments (Grades K-3)
  • Woodwind & Brass instruments (Grades 4-6) 
  • String instruments (Grades 4-6) 
  • Vocal warmups & technique (Grades 4-6)
  • Music in Middle school, High school, & Beyond (Grade 6)

The Tri-M members met regularly with their groups of 2-5 in the weeks leading up to the day, planning workshops, lessons, and activities to engage the budding musicians. Their primary objective was to get the students excited about music: turning on their mics, demonstrating their instruments, asking questions, and sharing what music means to them.


What is Shaker Tri-M?

The Tri-M Music Honor Society is a national organization that aims to recognize and bring high school student musicians together. They have chapters in various high schools across the country, including Shaker High School. 

Shaker’s Tri-M chapter includes 11th and 12th graders who have shown excellence and dedication in music performance, community service, and academic achievement. Students are invited to be a part of this organization and are inducted the summer before their first year of participation.