Which Pillar is Most Important: Music, Sisterhood, or Service?

by Caleb Morris, Epsilon Alpha, ΤΒΣ, University of South Carolina

The three pillars of Tau Beta Sigma are: Music, Sisterhood, and Service. Webster defines a pillar as “a person or thing regarded as reliably providing essential support for something.” Music, Sisterhood and Service are essential because they are the very reason for the existence of Tau Beta Sigma, and everything we do is somehow related to one of these three concepts.

Recently our candidates had their first interview of their process, and one of the questions we asked them was “Of the three pillars, which one is the most important?”  During their individual interviews, that same question is one that the candidates ask the Sisters. I am young in the Sorority, having only been initiated last semester, and I remember wrestling with that question myself.  When I would ask that question in interviews, I would hear a variety of answers from the sisters:

Music, because it is what brought me here”

Service, because I wanted to give back to band”

Sisterhood, because I missed my family at home”

Which answer is correct?

As the sister organization of Kappa Kappa Psi, TBS joins them in serving the endless needs of band programs across the nation, but we also have more dimensions than just service. According to the national website, Wava and her classmates had the vision of establishing a “band sorority” to “provide the important additional social, educational and other positive experiences needed by women in the band.”  The love of music is what brought Wava Banes, Emily Sorelle and Rose La Nell Williams to the Texas Tech band program.

However, in 1939, women in band were a rare occurrence, and finding a woman band director was even rarer.  The first sisters, bonded together by the scarcity of their gender and their desire to further serve the band, founded TBS to create the support system of sisterhood.  So here is the question at hand: what is Tau Beta Sigma? Are we a sisterhood bonded together by our love of music and desire to serve the band? Are we a service organization with a musical slant that places emphasis on sisterhood? Or, are we just a bunch of musicians that do band service and hang out extracurricularly?

One of the things that drew me to ΤΒΣ was the idea of a music organization that promoted music through service for the community.  Like many chapters across the nation, every spring the Epsilon Alpha chapter at the University of South Carolina helps with Relay for Life. One of our national programs is Crescendo, where we help Girl and Boy Scouts earn their music badges. The pillar of service definitely drew me to ΤΒΣ, but the stories from the older sisters are not necessarily about the service projects they have participated in; they are about the memories they share with their sisters.

For instance, last semester Epsilon Alpha sang to elderly living in the Still Hopes retirement home. Lizzy Rickel says the service project was particularly memorable because the sisters singing provoked an emotional response from them, as well as the elderly. It was a moment that brought the sisters together, and a perfect example of how service fosters sisterhood.  Sisterhood can foster service as well.

Every Thursday, Epsilon Alpha organizes nearly 400 uniforms for the Carolina Band.  While this may seem at first to be a Epsilon Alphatedious task, it is actually quite enjoyable because we get to hang out with our sisters.  We listen to music, dance, share laughs, and get the Uniforms done all at the same time!

The same logic can be applied to sisterhood and music as well.  We recently had our Brotherhood/Sisterhood with Zeta Chi, the chapter of KKΨ at USC.  It was a beautiful ceremony where we sang our Affirmation and they sang their Hymn, and we joined together for the singing of the joint SED hymn and USC’s Alma Mater.  Embracing the bond, we sang our songs for our candidates and Zeta Chi’s prospective members, which was the first time that they heard us sing.  It was wonderful sharing our love of music with each other and the Fall ‘15 lines.  Music strengthened our bond as sisters and brothers on that night, and it was showing off our bond that drove us to perform the songs to the best of our abilities.

Sisterhood fostered music and, in turn, music fostered Sisterhood.  Examining the relationship between music and service is pretty obvious; our mission statement makes it clear that “we provide exceptional service to collegiate band” after all.  From our founding to today, ΤΒΣ has continuously pursued many service projects designed to promote music, from national programs such as Crescendo to the Service in Music endeavor run by the SED.

Conversely, partaking in these service projects allows us to share our love of music, allowing music to reach a much wider audience.  It was the desire to share music with others that led Epsilon Alpha to do the service project at the retirement home, which led to sisterhood strengthening.  Although we can categorize each of the pillars, they are ultimately related, and they overlap in several places.

This brings us back to the original question I asked: which pillar is more important? I think that no pillar is more important than another; they are equally important, and by striving to integrate them, we enrich our experience in Tau Beta Sigma.  The second question that I asked was: is TBΣ a sisterhood bonded together by our love of music and desire to serve the band, or are we service organization with a musical slant that places emphasis on sisterhood, or are we just a bunch of musicians that do service for the band and hang out extracurricularly?

The answer is that we are all three.  We are an organization that lives by the pillars of Music, Sisterhood and Service, and, therefore, in everything we do, we must be sure to exemplify our pillars:

• Music – One of our purposes is to have an enthusiastic approach to band activities; although band can be hard to get through sometimes, remember to always keep a positive attitude, and all will be fine. Also, host music workshops where you can bond with your sisters by practicing our songs.

• Service – Have fun with any service you do. Service does not have to be a burden, because you get to have fun with your sisters. Also remember that what you give to others will always help them out. Our service is vital to the life and functionality of the organizations that have given and will continue to give us so much joy.

• Sisterhood – Be sure to always do things with your sisters; As the National Hymn says, “We come together for the love of music.” We love share a love of Band and Tau Beta Sigma, so please do things beyond just seeing your sisters every week at Chapter. Share your love 🙂

In closing, always remember that Tau Beta Sigma has three pillars, Music, Sisterhood and Service. Instead of trying to choose which one is more important than another, take a moment to reflect on how they work together to enrich your experience with TΒΣ.

The full Spring 2016 issue of The Podium is now available.

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