In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the CDC’s current recommendations, Merit School of Music has closed the Joy Faith Knapp Music Center and suspended all in-person activities. Virtual options are now available for summer camps, private lessons, Early Childhood classes, and small group classes. We thank you for your understanding and continued support during this unprecedented situation.

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Faculty & Staff

Christian Smith

Ensemble Director: Encore Strings; Faculty: Violin


VanderCook College of Music
Masters in Music Education

Northwestern University
Bachelors in Music Education


A 2013 Fellow of the Fund for Teachers, Christian Smith received a grant to study traditional Irish music at the University of Limerick, in Ireland, in order to enrich orchestra curriculum by integrating elements of Irish folk music, ensemble skills and improvisation. The Fund honors the professionalism of dedicated teachers.

Mr. Smith brings this dedication and professionalism to his role at Merit, where he teaches Encore Strings and the Violin Group class. His positive, energetic and supportive approach to music instruction has benefitted Merit’s violin students since he joined the faculty in 1995.

He holds a Bachelor of Music Education from Northwestern University and a Master of Music Education from Chicago’s VanderCook College of Music. After completing his undergraduate degree, Mr. Smith spent a year studying in Rome through Loyola University’s Italian Studies program.

Furthering his global perspective on music instruction, Mr. Smith is a 2015-2016 Teachers for Global Classrooms Fellow / Education Ambassador. The focus of this fellowship is the development of a Global Curriculum Guide and includes collaboration with teachers in India.

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“I love that Merit’s outreach to Chicago’s public schools allows us to reach students who, otherwise, would not have the opportunity to study music.”