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Individual lessons and group classes for students at any level.
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Bringing accessible, high-quality music education to Chicagoland communities.
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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.
Charles “Chip” Staley
Department Chair: Instrumental Large Ensembles; Ensemble Director: Wind Symphony
Honorary Doctor of Music, VanderCook College of Music
University of Wisconsin-Madison
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
ASBDA Distinguished Band Director Award
ILMEA Mary Hoffman Excellence in Teaching Award
John Philip Sousa Foundation’s Sudler Flag of Honor
CYSO Music Inspiration Award
John Paynter Lifetime Achievement Award
Charles “Chip” Staley directs the Wind Symphony and is a member of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) leadership team at the Merit School of Music in Chicago. Staley is also the Founder and President of ARTSpeaks, a non-profit arts advocacy organization and teaches graduate coursework at the VanderCook College of Music.
Staley began his career at Eisenhower High School in Blue Island, Illinois, before moving to Naperville, Illinois to teach at Waubonsie Valley High school. Staley transferred to Neuqua Valley High School when it opened, serving as Department Chair and teaching the Wind Ensemble, Symphony Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble and Marching Band before retiring from public school teaching.
Under his leadership, Neuqua Valley High School was twice recognized by the GRAMMY® Foundation as the National GRAMMY® Signature School and was awarded the 2009 John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts National Schools of Distinction in Arts Education Award.
Staley’s bands and orchestras have performed at the Midwest Clinic, Chicago’s Orchestra Hall, and at venues in the People’s Republic of China, England, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Staley has conducted the ILMEA All-State Band and maintains an active schedule as a keynote speaker, clinician and conductor. Most recently, the Merit School of Music Wind Symphony performed at the ILMEA Conference and shared a concert with the University of Illinois Wind Symphony in Foellinger Great Hall.