Faculty & Staff

Christian Smith

Ensemble Director: Encore Orchestra; Faculty: Violin & Viola


VanderCook College of Music, MM, Music Education
Northwestern University, BM, Music Education


Chris has been teaching violin, viola and orchestra at Merit since 1995. Since 2005 he has also been the Orchestra Director at Mather High School in CPS. Chris has a lifelong love of music education and educational travel. His experiences include receiving a fellowship to study Irish Traditional Music at the Blas International School at the University of Limerick. He traveled to India through the Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms Program and taught at a school in Gujarat. In summer 2021, he will travel to Ghana, Africa for an African music and cultural exchange program as part of a fellowship funded by the Chicago Foundation for Education.


Martin Hayes – he is a phenomenal fiddle player whose interpretation of Irish folk music appeals to everything that I enjoy about music and performance.

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“The study of the arts in general, and music specifically, is essential to a person’s complete education. From discipline and creativity to emotional development and appreciation of aesthetics learning music is a pursuit unlike any other. I have been inspired for decades at the commitment and mission of Merit to provide access to a high quality music education to the children of the city of Chicago.”