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.

To learn more about online offerings and supporting Merit during this time, please


Dear Merit Families and Friends,

We hope that you and your loved ones are well and, like all of us here at Merit, are figuring out how to navigate the challenges we face as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. As you know, in order to safeguard the health and well-being of our students, faculty, staff and community, Merit has suspended all onsite activities at the Joy Faith Knapp Music Center until further notice. We will continue to assess this timeline on a regular basis. 

Despite this closure, we remain dedicated to providing Merit families with access to the life-affirming and life-changing benefits of music wherever possible. Virtual options are now available for private lessons, Early Childhood classes, and small group classes. Families and students can access up-to-date information on the status of your respective activities here. If you have yet to receive information on the status of your Merit lessons or classes, please reach out to us at so we can put you in touch with the appropriate person or resources.

We encourage our students to keep up with their lessons and practicing! We will get through this as a community and we want everyone to remain as motivated and passionate about music as ever. Also, here are a few more ways to keep the music going at home.

We’ve reworked our summer offerings to allow students to experience the best of Merit School of Music’s camps, classes, electives, and workshops. Online summer camps and classes are a great way to stay social, creative, and engaged with your instrument while staying safe and healthy at home. You can register by logging into your ASAP Account. Any questions or concerns about registration and/or financial aid can be directed to

As a nonprofit arts organization, we are reliant upon financial contributions and community support to sustain our daily operations. It is certain that we, like all our fellow arts organizations, will experience significant losses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic that could potentially negatively impact our school community. ​Your support or waiving of any tuition refund, would help to offset that impact. Click here to support Merit today.

In addition, in lieu of an in-person Gala fundraiser, we decided to bring the music to you in the form of our very first Virtual Gala on May 5! Thank you to all who helped make the event such a great success. Over 500 families tuned in and we exceeded our anonymous donor’s generous matching pledge! View videos from the Virtual Gala and learn how you can still support the event.

Our students, faculty, and staff are so thankful for your continued support as we work hard to keep the music going.

Thank you for your continued dedication to Merit during this challenging and unique time. We’d like to extend a heartfelt thanks to those of you ​who have shared messages of support or posted beautiful musical tributes on social media. Keep them coming! We are so grateful to have all of you as part of the Merit community.

Stay safe and healthy, and we look forward to making music together again in person soon.

Estimadas familias y amigos de Merit,

Esperamos que usted y sus seres queridos estén bien, y como todos nosotros aquí en Merit, estén descubriendo cómo superar los desafíos a los que nos enfrentamos a medida que continúa la pandemia COVID-19. Como usted sabe, con el fin de conservar la salud y el bienestar de nuestros estudiantes, profesores, personal y comunidad, Merit ha suspendido todas las actividades en el edificio de Joy Faith Knapp Music Center hasta nuevo aviso. Seguiremos evaluando la situación de forma regular.

A pesar de este cierre, seguimos dedicados a proporcionar a las familias de Merit acceso a los beneficios de la música que reafirman y cambian la vida siempre que sea posible. Las opciones virtuales ahora están disponibles para clases privadas, clases de primera infancia y clases de grupos pequeños. Las familias y los estudiantes pueden acceder a información actualizada sobre el estado de sus respectivas actividades aquí. Si aún no ha recibido información sobre el estado de sus lecciones o clases de Merit, comuníquese con nosotros en para que podamos ponerlo en contacto con la persona o los recursos apropiados.

¡Animamos a nuestros estudiantes a mantenerse al día con sus lecciones y prácticas! Lo superaremos como comunidad y queremos que todos permanezcan tan motivados y apasionados por la música como siempre. Además, aquí hay algunas maneras más de mantener la música en casa.

Como organización artística sin fines de lucro, dependemos de contribuciones financieras y apoyo comunitario para sostener nuestras operaciones diarias. Es cierto que nosotros, como muchas otras organizaciones artísticas, tendremos pérdidas significativas como resultado de la pandemia COVID-19 que potencialmente podría afectar negativamente a nuestra comunidad escolar. Su apoyo o renuncia a cualquier reembolso de matrícula, ayudaría a compensar ese impacto. Haga clic aquí para apoyar a Merit hoy.

Gracias por su continua dedicación a Merit durante este tiempo desafiante y único. Nos gustaría dar las gracias de corazón a aquellos de ustedes que han compartido mensajes de apoyo o publicado hermosos homenajes musicales en las redes sociales. ¡Sigan compartiendo con nosotros! Estamos muy agradecidos de tener a todos ustedes como parte de la comunidad de Merit.

Manténgase seguro y saludable, y esperamos hacer música juntos de nuevo en persona pronto.



我們希望您和您所愛的人身體健康,而且和我們 Merit 的團隊一樣,找出方式來應對 COVID-19 繼續大流行所面臨的挑戰。如您所知,為了維護我們的學生、教職員與員工團體的健康和福祉,Merit 暫停了Joy Faith Knapp 音樂中心的所有現場活動,直至另行通知。 我們將繼續定期評估適合開發的時間點。

儘管關閉,我們仍致力於為 Merit 的家庭提供音樂所帶來改變人生及其益處。網路視訊現在可用於私人課程幼兒班小組課程。家庭和學生可以在此處查看有關您各自課程的最新信息。如果您尚未收到有關私人課程或課程狀態的信息,請通過 與我們聯繫,以便我們提供適當的人員或資源給您。


作為一家非營利性藝術組織,我們依靠財政捐助和社區支持來維持我們的日常營運。可以肯定的是,與所有其他藝術組織一樣,我們會因 COVID-19 大流行而遭受重大損失,這可能會對我們的學院產生負面影響。 您的支持或放棄任何學費退款將有助於抵消這種狀況。請點此處支持 Merit

感謝您在這個充滿挑戰和獨特的時刻繼續奉獻 Merit。我們要衷心感謝那些在社交媒體上分享支持信息或發表精美音樂致敬的人們!請繼續!我們非常感激你們成為 Merit 學院的一部分。


Keep the music going all summer long! We’ve reworked our summer offerings to allow students to experience the best of Merit School of Music’s camps, classes, electives, and workshops. Online summer camps and classes are a great way to stay social, creative, and engaged with your instrument while staying safe and healthy at home.

View step-by-step instructions for registering online. 

Click the button below to register for virtual summer camps and classes:

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Merit is currently only taking registrations online. If you have a question or need assistance with registration, we’re still here for you virtually!

Contact us at

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 $125. 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.

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 or submit a copy of your 1040 tax return (2018) or other documents reflective of your household income to Student Services at or in-person in Room 101 or 102. If you are unable to provide a tax return, please inquire with Student Services about alternative documentation.

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

Is additional financial aid available due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Merit School of Music realizes that families’ circumstances may have changed over the last few months due to the ongoing global pandemic, but we are committed to working with you to ensure that your students are able to continue with Merit programming this summer. 

We are pleased to offer a COVID-Relief Summer Discount to qualifying families. You do not need to qualify for Merit’s need-based financial aid to qualify for our COVID-Relief Discount, but in many cases, you may receive both discounts on eligible programs. The COVID-Relief Summer Discount only applies to virtual Instrumental & Vocal Music Program group classes and five-week camps. It does not apply to virtual summer private lessons, workshops, or electives.

Click here to apply for the COVID-Relief Summer Discount. 

For questions or more information regarding financial aid, please email Student Services at 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 2019 – 2020 Rental Fee: $37 – $170 (sliding scale, based on financial aid)

You can submit an application to rent an instrument here.

Library Open Hours
Monday: By appointment only
Tuesday – Thursday: 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Friday: By appointment only
Saturday: 9:00 am – 11:50 am, 12:30 pm- 2:00 pm
Sunday: Closed

The Library will be closed from February 25 – March 9 in preparation for spring and summer registration. Regular open hours will resume March 10.

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


Missed classes:

  • Any student who misses three consecutive classes without alerting the Early Childhood Program Manager or teacher may be removed from the class roster.
  • Please contact the Early Childhood Program Manager as soon as possible to find alternative class times that you would be able to attend.

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:

  • Fill out an Absence Approval Form at least two weeks in advance and return the form to the front desk or Conservatory Director. The form is also available throughout the year in the Student Services office or at the front desk.

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.

How does the automatic re-enrollment program work?

Students who join the automatic re-enrollment program complete their formal registration once and receive a secured spot in class in perpetuity (or until you tell us you’d like to cancel). Your credit card will then be charged at the start of each 10-week session and bypass any future registration and payment paperwork.

What are the benefits of automatic re-enrollment?

Discounted tuition

Students enrolled in the automatic re-enrollment program receive a 10% discount on class tuition!

Reserved/Priority spots in class

Students who participate in automatic re-enrollment will be enrolled in upcoming classes before registration opens to the general public.  This means that your student will have “first dibs” on their preferred class time- no more losing a spot in your favorite class simply because someone else completed their registration before you!

Skip the paperwork

Once you join the automatic re-enrollment program, your job is done!  Skip the paperwork and hassle of enrolling for classes every 10 weeks- we’ll take care of the work for you.

What if I want to move to a new class for the upcoming session?

You will be contacted by the Early Childhood Program administration a few weeks before the start of each upcoming session to confirm your student’s preferred class schedule.  You will be welcome to change your class day and time if needed and will also be able to move into the next level class if your student will be graduating to the next age range.

I love the idea of this program- how do I join?

Simply add the coupon code “AUTOENROLL” to your first class purchase during online check-out.  After your first registration, your credit card will be charged automatically at the start of each session for the registration fee (assessed once per academic year and once per summer) and class tuition (minus the 10% discount). You are responsible for letting Merit know if you wish to discontinue classes and automatic payments.

What happens if I fail to keep my credit card information current in my account?

You must keep a valid credit card number on file to participate in the automatic re-enrollment program.  If your credit card number changes or expires and you fail to proactively update your account information at Merit, your student will be automatically withdrawn from the auto-enroll program and will no longer receive the priority registration benefits and tuition discounts associated with the program.

What happens if I choose to discontinue Early Childhood classes at Merit?

You must alert Merit’s Student Services Department in writing at least two weeks in advance of when you would like to discontinue your participation in the automatic re-enrollment program.  Students who choose to discontinue within their first 7 or 10-week session of classes will have the 10% tuition discount billed back to their credit card.  Students who have attended at least two full, consecutive 7 or 10-week class sessions will be able to keep their 10% tuition discount but will be held to the following refund schedule:

  • 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.
  • Registration fees are non-refundable.
  • Please allow three to four weeks for processing of refunds

Students withdrawing from Early Childhood classes are subject to the rules and regulations outlined in Merit School of Music Enrollment Policies.

What if I don’t want to participate in the automatic re-enrollment program?  What are my alternative registration options?

Merit also offers per-term registration.  You are welcome to register for each 7 or 10-week session of Early Childhood classes individually however you will not be eligible for the automatic renewal tuition discounts and class spots will be subject to availability.  You will need to complete a new class registration for every session in which your student participates.

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:

Meredith Richard