- Music Classes & Lessons
- Group Classes & Ensembles
- Private Lessons
- Early Childhood
- Summer Camps
- View by Instrument/Age
- Why Choose Merit
Individual lessons and group classes for students at any level.
- Community Programs
Bringing accessible, high-quality music education to Chicagoland communities.
- Selective Programs
- Chicago Musical Pathways
The highest level of achievement for Merit students in tuition-free, audition-based programs.
Who we are and what we believe in.
How Merit makes a difference.
Merit's supporters remove barriers to music education, ensuring access for Chicago's youth.
Additional info for current and prospective students.
Director of Orchestras: Merit Conservatory
Northwestern University, DMA, Orchestral Conducting (in-progress)
Northwestern University, MM, Orchestral Conducting
Boston University, BM, Violin Performance
Japanese-American conductor Taichi Fukumura is Director of Orchestras at the Merit School of Music, Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Northwestern Medical Orchestra, founding Music Director of the Accompanietta Orchestra, and cover conductor for the Chicago Philharmonic. He is entering his second year with Chicago Sinfonietta as their Project Inclusion Conducting Fellow, where he works closely with Music Director Mei-Ann Chen and receives further mentorship from leaders such as Marin Alsop, Robert Spano, and JoAnn Falletta.
Fukumura grew up in Boston and studied violin with Peter Zazofsky at Boston University where he received his Bachelor of Music. He began conducting at the age of 16, and proceeded to found the Accompanietta Orchestra during college. His work with Accompanietta was highly acclaimed, and he was invited to conduct Stravinsky’s l’Histoire du Soldat with members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra as part of their Community Chamber Concert Series. He also served as the Assistant Conductor of the Boston Civic Symphony where he was recognized for his ability to “create a sumptuous sound world” (Boston Music Intelligencer). He was named Associate Conductor in the following season and led the orchestra in 13 performances. Equally adept in opera conducting, Fukumura has led productions of Britten’s Turn of the Screw as music director and conducted Mozart’s Don Giovanni as assistant conductor at the Northwestern University Opera Theatre. He has previously served as a staff conductor at Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras whose premiere orchestra annually performs a complete opera, and has led rehearsals of Puccini’s La Boheme.
As the Director of Orchestras at the Merit School of Music, Fukumura conducts the Merit Philharmonic as well as Merit String Orchestra and serves on the IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Anti-racism) leadership team, re-imagining music education in the 21st century. Outside of Merit, he serves as a part-time lecturer at Northwestern University Bienen School of Music and has been invited to lead rehearsals for orchestras at Boston University, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of St. Francis, and Columbia College Chicago.
Fukumura connects various sections of the Chicago medical community as the Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Northwestern Medical Orchestra, bringing medical students, professionals, researchers, patients, and families together through music-making. He has led world-premieres of works written by local physicians and performed in Millennium Park as part of an event with the National Institutes of Health. As the son of a cancer-researcher and a harpsichordist, medicine and music have always been closely intermingled subjects in his life. He is driven by the belief that while medicine helps to prolong lives, music profoundly helps make that life worth living.
It changes every week, but I often come back to Dvořák.