Since the aim of the educative process is the stimulation of the student toward the highest level of achievement within his or her capabilities, outstanding accomplishment should be accorded particular recognition.
In an attempt to provide such recognition, the Alumni Association of the School of Music at Northwestern University in 1916 appointed a committee to consider the feasibility of installing an honor society in the field of music. Serving on the committee were Carl Milton Beecher, Louis Norton Dodge, and Walter Allen Stults. As a result of their labors, Pi Kappa Lambda was granted a charter by the State of Illinois in 1918.
The first member was Peter Christian Lutkin, Dean of the School of Music at Northwestern University. His initials in their Greek equivalents were selected for the name of the Society: Pi Kappa Lambda. Dean Lutkin was issued key number one of the Society.
The course of the organization has been one of continuing expansion. Election to membership in Pi Kappa Lambda has been indicative of superior attainment in music, together with the personal qualifications pertaining to an outstanding exponent of the art.
The Beta Pi Chapter at the Eastman School of Music was established in 1966. After a brief lapse, the chapter was re-established in 2013. The current chapter president is Mara Culp, Assistant Professor of Music Teaching and Learning, and the secretary/treasurer is Lindsay Baker, Instructor of Opera.