Vita Brevis, Ars Longa

As soon as I stepped foot as a freshman on the Northwestern University campus, I was bombarded by “student life”—meaning the plethora of clubs and activities that were suddenly available to us. These included ethnic networking groups, religious groups, student publications, theater and sororities, just to name a few.

I remember taking the tour of the fraternity/sorority quads and knowing pretty much right away that Greek life was not for me.

However, as I became more entrenched in marching band, I realized that there was another sorority on campus that sounded interesting. If I had to guess, I would say that at least half of the female marching band members were sisters at Sigma Alpha Iota (SAI), an international music fraternity for women.

SAI offers music as a common bond and as an organizational mission. A great number of my best college memories occurred at SAI or because of SAI. Through SAI, I had musical experiences that I might not otherwise have had. Though I continued to play flute as my primary instrument, I also learned the oboe. I sang in choir. And I led a co-ed a capella number for one of our recitals. We also gave back to the community.

For example, we donated concert proceeds to national and local organizations, such as the People’s Music School—a Chicago-based not-for-profit that gives free music lessons to lower-income youth. And I participated on SAI/Phi Mu Alpha’s Dance Marathon team, raising several thousand dollars for pediatric AIDS.

Most importantly, though, I made lifelong friends—not only among marching band members but also with very talented singers and orchestral players in both SAI and Phi Mu Alpha. These are friends who I still keep in touch with. They are friends whose weddings I’ve been to (or been a bridesmaid for) and whose children are friends with my children.

My experience is not unique. Each year, thousands of undergrads join a music fraternity—whether Kappa Kappa Psi, Tau Beta Sigma, Phi Mu Alpha or SAI. Our article, “Fraternal Order” (page 26) shares a few of their stories and gives you a glimpse of what being in a music fraternity could mean for you.

So if you think being in a fraternity or sorority may not be for you, think again.

Love in WES,
Christine Ngeo Katzman
Publisher and Editor-in-Chief

About the author

Christine Ngeo Katzman

Christine Ngeo Katzman has played the flute since the age of 8. She marched in the Northwestern University Marching Band, including the 1996 Rose Bowl and 1997 Citrus Bowl. She graduated cum laude from Northwestern with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1997. Since then, she has worked in the publishing industry as a writer and editor and helped launch Play Music, a magazine for recreational musicians, sponsored by American Music Group (now Music and Arts Center). In the summer of 2006, Christine worked at Yamaha where she interacted with staff and students in various marching bands and drum corps. Christine earned her MBA with honors from the University of Southern California in May 2007.

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