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Monday June 27th

Musical Greek life at UNC finds their harmony in community service

photo courtesy of Molly Gaskin
Buy Photos photo courtesy of Molly Gaskin

Music fraternities at UNC are spreading good deeds through sweet melodies and community service.

UNC is home to four different music fraternities: the Iota Tau chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota, the Mu Eta chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi, the Alpha Rho chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia and the Iota Lambda chapter of Tau Beta Sigma.

These organizations took root long ago when their missions to spread music began.

Sigma Alpha Iota

Sigma Alpha Iota (SAI) was founded on June 12, 1903, at the University of Michigan School of Music. This international music fraternity was created for the advancement of women in music.

The Iota Tau chapter, the all-women’s chapter at UNC, was founded in 1946. The chapter currently has 49 sisters and actively works with the UNC music department and the surrounding Chapel Hill community.

SAI-IT supports SAI Philanthropies, Inc. through fundraising. SAI Philanthropies, Inc. works with People-to-People, a charity that provides assistance to music education programs across the globe, and Pan’s Cottage.

Pan’s Cottage is an artists' retreat where SAI-IT gives artists space and resources to work on their projects.

Molly Gaskin, president of SAI-IT, said that she enjoys supporting Pan’s Cottage because she believes that artists should have time and space to express their creativity.

Other community service activities include working with children at Kidzu, Music and Memory and Girl Scout events.

SAI-IT works with the music department when a concert needs ushers or camera operators. They also offer reception hosting for after recitals.

Aside from doing community service, the group often hosts sing-alongs and group bonding activities, such as karaoke.

“We have a songbook of SAI songs, so we can sing those together and have a sing-along,” Graskin said. “That is a really fun, really unifying thing and it connects you to the sisters of the past and the whole organization overall because we all have those songs and we all love those songs.”

Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Alpha Rho Chapter

The Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, founded in 1898 at the New England Conservatory in Boston, Massachusetts is the oldest men’s music fraternity in the country.

The Alpha Rho chapter at UNC-CH was chartered in 1926, making it the oldest chapter in North Carolina.

The Alpha Rho chapter contributes to Phi Mu Alpha's goal of advancing music in America by working with Mills Music Mission, PMA's official national philanthropy.

photo courtesy of William Cox

The Mills Music Mission encourages going into the community and spreading music. The Alpha Rho chapter brings saxophones, pianos and their voices and goes to nursing homes and veteran’s hospitals.

“(We go to) places where people that live there may not be able to get out and experience music as much as they like,” said William Cox, a UNC member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. “We’ll go play some songs for them and it usually has a very positive impact.”

PMA also works with the music department to provide assistance where they need it, such as spray painting and fixing the stands in the music halls.

Kappa Kappa Psi, Mu Eta Chapter

Kappa Kappa Psi National Honorary Band Fraternity was founded in 1919 at Oklahoma State University. Eight members of the Marching Tar Heels founded the Mu Eta chapter at UNC in 2008.

KKPsi is dedicated to providing services to band programs. At UNC, the Mu Eta chapter works closely with Jeffrey Fuchs, director of University bands.

Mu Eta's main service is with UNC marching band. They are in charge of setting up and tearing down band rehearsals.

KKPsi member Aaron Friedman said that now that their organization is involved, rehearsals are much more efficient.

 “Before our organization was here at UNC there wasn’t really anyone in charge of it,” Friedman said. “Now that we’re here and we’re responsible for it there are things that need to get done that always get done because we are there to do it.”

The chapter maintains a highway section on 15-501. They also cook breakfast and dinner for people staying at the Ronald McDonald House once or twice a semester.

Photo courtesy of Aaron Friedman

KKPsi-ME volunteer with Communiversity, a program serving underprivileged children in the Chapel Hill area. Once a week, they go to an afterschool program and teach kids about music.

Friedman said that joining a music fraternity like KKPsi helps those passionate about music to make connections.

“It's a great way for people in ensembles and in music to get to know more people in music and to deepen their appreciation for music,” Friedman said.

Tau Beta Sigma, Iota Lambda Chapter

Tau Beta Sigma, the sister organization to Kappa Kappa Psi, started during World War II at Texas Technological College in 1946.

The Iota Lambda chapter of Tau Beta Sigma at UNC is a band focused co-ed sorority. Members have to be taking a band class.

The Iota Lambda chapter was chartered at UNC in 2008 by 10 women. This was exactly one semester before Kappa Kappa Psi.

The chapter serves bands but also does work to serve the arts community. The group holds a program called Crescendo where they help Girl Scouts get their music badge.

They work with Communiversity and also assist with helping put up and take down band rehearsals. TBS boosts the morale of the bands by providing treats during strenuous practice days and plan movie nights for the band.

Megan Laney, president of the Iota Lambda chapter, said that one of her favorite service activities was helping out once a week at Communiversity.

“If you can figure out how to funnel them in the right direction, they can do so much,” Laney said.

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