📢 SAVE THE DATE! Spring registration opens Jan. 3 & classes begin Feb. 1. Learn more »


Merit School of Music transforms the lives of Chicago-area youth through removing barriers to high-quality music education.


Merit School of Music is a nationally accredited music school located in Chicago’s West Loop. Our primary goals are to help young people transform their lives and experience personal growth through music by providing access to participation. For more than 40 years, we have been home to a diverse community of talented young musicians and have acted as a springboard for achieving full musical and personal potential. Our 125 passionate and experienced teaching artists provide access to high-quality music education, engaging over 3,000 students annually at our downtown location and in area schools and community centers.

Merit students, who reflect the socioeconomic and ethnic diversity of Chicago, have the rare opportunity to learn together, dream together, teach each other, and broaden their horizons as they build inspiring lives through music. Merit develops musicians and provides young people with the tools they need to excel in life, with virtually 100 percent of our graduates going on to conservatory or college.

As a National Guild member, Merit School of Music is committed to ensuring all people have opportunities to maximize their creative potential.


At Merit, we provide a distinctive music education pathway. Our programming continuum consists of five major areas, which students may join at any stage, including Early Childhood, Instrumental & Vocal Music (group classes), and Private Lessons. Merit’s programming continuum begins and concludes with two signature programs—Merit Music in Communities, an in-school music education program; and the audition-based Alice S. Pfaelzer Tuition-free Conservatory, which requires and represents the highest level of achievement.


Thanks to the support of Merit’s dedicated faculty, staff, board, donors, and parents, our students have the opportunity to develop their talents and unlock their potential. We provide financial support through need-based tuition relief, low-cost instrument rental, and music supplies so that motivated students can participate in our programs regardless of economic circumstance. More than half of Merit’s budget is allocated to student support, with 70 percent of our students receiving assistance. Merit is devoted to providing students the opportunity to grow through music by removing financial, geographic and personal barriers, allowing them to pursue a life of excellence, accomplishment, and fulfillment.

Steven, viola

"My dream is to be a professional violist, and Merit is helping me to reach this goal with quality training and excellent performance opportunities."

Donate Now