SUMMER COVID PROTOCOL UPDATES: Beginning June 1, Merit will be instituting new COVID protocols, including moving to masks recommended for all visitors. Current COVID protocols remains in effect through May 31, with the exception of a few special events. READ MORE »


At Merit, your health & safety are our priority. We’ve instituted strict rules and safety guidelines for keeping our community safe during in-person music making.

→ Learn about the latest rules and safety guidelines at Merit’s Joy Faith Knapp Music Center.

View step-by-step instructions for registering online. 

Click the button below to register:

If you have a question or need any assistance with registration, financial aid, or billing, Student Services is here for you! Please contact us at [email protected] with any questions or concerns.

We’re also available for in-person appointments by request. To request an in-person or phone appointment with a Student Services Associate, please email [email protected] with your preferred availability, and someone will respond to coordinate your appointment. Thank you for your patience and understanding in advance!

Who do I talk to if I need to change my group class schedule?

We encourage all families to register for their recommended group class to secure their spot and then contact the respective program director to inquire about schedule changes.

Is there a registration fee?

Yes, there is a non-refundable registration fee of $30 per student for each Academic Year. The registration fee for Summer Session is $15. The Alice S. Pfaelzer Conservatory registration fee is $150. If Merit cancels a program or class the registration fee will be refunded in full.

How do I pay?

Payments are accepted by check, money order, credit card (MasterCard, Visa, or Discover) or cash. Credit card payments may be made online or over the phone. Automatic credit card deductions can be made to your account monthly. For more information about online payment and automatic payment plans, please contact Student Services.

How do I sign up for auto-payment?

Signing up to have your monthly installments charged automatically is easy! If you already have a card saved to your account, simply email us at [email protected] confirming the last 4 digits of the card you’d like to use, and we’ll set your monthly payment plan up to charge to that card automatically each month until the end of the session. If you don’t have a card saved to your account, head to the “Billing Info” section of your Merit account to add a card, then email us at [email protected] with the last 4 digits of that new card, and we’ll get your payment plan set up to charge automatically to save you the hassle going forward.

What do I do if I forgot my login information?

Not a problem! You can reset your password here. If you’ve also forgotten which email address is on your account, email us at [email protected], and we can email you temporary login information.

When are payments due?

Registration fees are due in full at the time of registration. Tuition is due prior to the start of the program. Payment plans are available and must be set up at the time of registration. For private lessons, a registration fee and a deposit of the first four lessons are due before lessons can begin. Failure to pay within the billing schedule may result in program interruption.

What happens if I fail to pay?

Merit is dedicated to working with families to satisfy payment obligations including, but not limited to, creating payment plans, etc. so students can remain enrolled in programming.  Accounts that fall into arrears without communication to Student Services or installment arrangements may be sent to collections. Students’ participation may be interrupted if accounts fall behind in payment. Applications with unpaid registration or private lesson deposits cannot be processed.

What is the withdrawal procedure?

All requests for withdrawal must be received by the program manager of the respective department, in writing, before considered withdrawn. Verbal requests to withdraw do not fulfill this requirement. Notifying the teacher does not constitute notice of withdrawal. The effective date of withdrawal is the date that the written notice is received, not the last date of class or private lesson attended. Students receiving financial aid or scholarship forfeit their award upon withdrawal.

What is the refund policy for Instrumental & Vocal Music and Early Childhood programs?

The refund policy is as follows:

  • Students withdrawing more than two days before the first class/lesson will receive a full tuition refund minus the registration fee.
  • A pro-rated refund will be given to withdrawing students who have taken up to three (3) classes.
  •  If the student has taken 4 classes, a tuition refund of 50% will be given.
  • If a student has taken 5 classes or more, no refund will be given.
  • Students registering for classes that are six weeks or less in program duration are not eligible for a refund after start date.
  • Students withdrawing on payment plans are subject to the above refund policies.
  • Registration fees are non-refundable.
  • Please allow three to four weeks for processing of refunds

What is the refund policy for private lessons?

If you didn’t receive lessons that were paid for but were not taken due to instructor absence, Student Services will credit your account appropriately at the end of the semester when attendance is reviewed.

Cancellations: Group Classes (Instrumental & Vocal Music)

While this is unusual, classes may be canceled due to insufficient enrollment. If this occurs, the school will make every effort to reschedule the student for another class at a convenient time. If this is not possible, you will receive a full refund including both tuition and registration fees. Band small group cancellations may offer the option for the student to enroll in private lessons in place of the group at an equal tuition rate.

Cancellations: Private Lessons

Students who wish to withdraw from lessons must notify their private teacher as well as the private lesson manager.

While we are dedicated to providing as much aid as possible to requesting families, financial aid is a limited resource and is awarded on a first come, first served basis. Unfortunately, we cannot accommodate all requests.

How do I apply for financial aid?

Please fill out our online financial aid application. If you are unable to provide a tax return, please inquire with Student Services about alternative documentation.

If your family has experienced a change in finances due to the COVID-19 pandemic that is not reflected on your financial aid documents, please contact us at [email protected], and we will do our best to adjust your financial aid package accordingly.

When will my financial aid be applied?

Once approved, your financial aid will be applied once you have provided the $30 registration fee for the Academic Year ($15 Summer Session), and, if applicable, paid the deposit for the first four private lessons.

How often do I need to submit my financial aid documents?

In order for us to maintain a fair and equitable process, families must resubmit their financial aid documents annually. Student Services will keep your documents on file for one full calendar year. Due to limited resources, submitting your documents does not guarantee your student will receive financial aid. Many factors are taken into consideration.

Are new students eligible to receive financial aid?

New students can receive financial aid if their family’s tax return deems them eligible, and if financial aid funds are still available (As noted above, financial aid is a limited resource and awarded on a first come, first served basis).

What would prevent a student from receiving financial aid?

There are a variety of reasons why a student might not receive financial aid (listed below):

  • Household income exceeds threshold to qualify for financial aid
  • All of Merit’s financial aid has been distributed and there are no more funds available
  • Registration fees and private lesson deposits were not received by Student Services

For questions or more information regarding financial aid, please email Student Services at [email protected] or call 312-786-9428.

Merit’s instrument rental program is administered through the Glasser-Rosenthal Library.

The rental program is open to students who are currently enrolled and receiving financial aid.  Please note that rentals are subject to availability, so you are encouraged to see the librarian about instrument needs soon after completing class registration!

Academic Year 2021 – 2022 Rental Fee = $40 – $160 (sliding scale, based on financial aid)

Summer 2022 Rental Fee = $5 – $80 (sliding scale, based on financial aid)

You can submit an application to rent an instrument here.

The Library is always available by appointment! Please email us at least 2 business days in advance to schedule your appointment.

[email protected]rg



Make sure to let your teacher know you won’t be in class by filling out the absence form that pertains to your program.

We’re here to work with you! During COVID, we have relaxed our attendance policies. Absences due to illness or other health concerns will not affect your continued program participation or financial aid award. Please keep in contact with your Program Director if you have questions or concerns.

→ View Merit’s COVID guidelines. 

FULL policies by program


Missed classes:

Make-up classes:

  • A total of two make-up classes per semester are permitted so that the class culture will grow.
  • In order to prevent over-booking any singular class, please do not attend a make-up class without first contacting the administration.
  • All make-up classes must be completed by the last week of the semester.

Music Master 2 families:

  • In order to stay current with the curriculum from week to week, please plan your make-up classes to take place within the same week as the class you intend to miss.

If you plan to discontinue your class:


  • Students are allowed up to 3 absences per semester and can be taken for any reason
  • Though you are not required to report absences, please do let your teacher and/or Program Manager know whenever your student will be absent whenever possible
  • If your student is marked “tardy” to class three times it will be considered the equivalent of one absent day and will count against your 3-day allowance
  • If your student will be performing in a concert, attendance is mandatory for the dress rehearsal and the concert. Students are also required to attend the first day of a new semester. Absences are not allowed on any of these mandatory attendance days.


  • There are no excused absences for private lessons.
  • Students are expected to be present and on time to all private lessons. Families are responsible for payment of all lessons whether or not the student is in attendance.
  • Private lesson teachers are not required to reschedule lessons due to student absences or tardiness. However, make-up lessons can be given with instructor discretion.
  • As a courtesy, if a student is unable to attend a scheduled lesson, please contact the individual instructor directly at least 24 hours in advance. If the instructor cancels the lesson or is late, the teacher is responsible for making up that lesson time.
  • Merit may dismiss any student from private lessons with three consecutive absences without notification; who has a pattern of absences; who is consistently tardy; or who fails to adhere to their payment schedule.


Students must arrive on time and attend all classes each week.

If you know your child will be absent in advance:

If your child is absent unexpectedly:

  • Please call immediately so that we are aware of the student’s whereabouts and follow up with the absence approval form.

Examples of excused absences:

  • Musical performance
  • Academic requirement
  • Observance of a religious holiday
  • Student illness
  • Family emergency

Examples of unexcused absences:

  • Athletic events
  • Oversleeping
  • Too much homework

Failure to submit an absence approval form or to phone in an unplanned absence may result in an “unexcused” absence.  After one unexcused absence or three excused absences, the student and his/her parents will be called in for a meeting.  At this time the student’s future in the program will be determined. Any student asked to leave the program may have his/her Private Lesson Passport revoked.

Our address is:

Merit School of Music
Joy Faith Knapp Music Center
38 South Peoria St.
Chicago, IL 60607

Merit is easily accessible by car, public transportation, and rideshare. However, parking in our West Loop neighborhood is extremely limited and our parking lot is for permit parking only.

Due to the limited space in our lot, parking is strictly enforced and vehicles will be towed at the owner’s expense. There are two 30-minute visitor parking spots available to guests who check-in at the front desk.

Parking options include metered street parking around Merit as well as nearby paid public parking lots. We recommend using SpotHero to conveniently find a parking spot.

The safety of students, families, faculty, staff, and all visitors to the Joy Faith Knapp Music Center is of the utmost importance to the Merit School of Music.

In cases of inclement weather or emergency situations, Merit will actively monitor the situation and keep you up-to-date on the status of classes via the email on your Merit account. In urgent situations, we may also text or call the phone number on file. You can also check or for updates at any time.

Please always use your discretion if you personally believe your commute to be unsafe and report any absences to your teacher and/or Program Manager/Director as soon as possible.

In order to ensure we can get in contact with you in emergency situations, always make sure your contact information is up-to-date on your Merit account at

Merit School of Music’s EIN is: 36-3028768

Need help making a donation? Contact us at [email protected].