Merit School of Music

About Merit

Who we are and what we believe in.

Our Mission

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

Our Values

We Create

a culture of musical and personal excellence by igniting passion and nurturing persistence. 

We Cultivate

a welcoming, generous, vibrant community of learning. 

We Collaborate

with innovation, accountability, and empathy.

We Celebrate

diversity, equity, and inclusion—so everyone belongs.

A student violin player during practice

Musical & Personal Excellence

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 passionate and experienced teaching artists provide access to high-quality music education, engaging over 2,500 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 100% of our Conservatory graduates going on to college. 

Choir students singing during an ensemble performance

Merit's Programming Continuum: Comprehensive Music Education

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 classes, group classes and ensembles, and private lessons.

Merit’s programming continuum also includes two signature programs—Merit Music in Communities, an in-school music education program; and the audition-based Alice S. Pfaelzer Conservatory, which requires and represents the highest level of achievement.

Financial Support & Scholarships

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.

Thanks to the support of Merit’s dedicated board, donors, and partners, we are proud to provide financial support through need-based tuition relief, low-cost instrument rental, and free in-school programming so that motivated students can participate in our programs regardless of economic circumstances.

Over 80% of students receive some level of financial assistance. With this support, our students have the opportunity to develop their talents and unlock their full potential.

Merit by the Numbers

student engaged annually
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financial aid and student support
$ 0 M
Chicago-area partner sites
Conservatory graduates accepted to college
0 %
of students participating at a reduced or no cost
0 %

Merit Proudly Partners or Is Affiliated with:

Give the Gift of Music!

Your support transforms the lives of young musicians across Chicagoland.

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