Merit Music in Communities

In 1984, Merit School of Music responded to requests from Chicago Public Schools to create an in-school music education program, resulting in the formation of what we now call Merit Music in Communities.

Merit Music in Communities provides high-quality music education through group instruction in strings, band, choir, piano, guitar, early childhood, and general music. In addition to year-long courses, multi-week general music residencies are available where Merit teaching artists collaborate with students and classroom teachers to creatively enhance reading, language, and critical thinking skills through music.


In many cases, the Merit Music in Communities program serves as the first step for students in Merit’s comprehensive continuum of instruction. Motivated students are encouraged to continue their studies at Merit’s Joy Faith Knapp Music Center by enrolling in:

Merit removes barriers to this continuum of music education by providing financial support to qualifying students, including:

  • Need-based tuition relief
  • Low-cost instrument rentals
  • Discounted music supplies
  • Transportation assistance
merit music communities

Program impact


school & community sites


zip codes




tuition-value per student


  • Albright Middle School
  • Andrew Jackson Language Academy
  • Books, Brushes, and Bands for Education
  • Britten School
  • Burbank Elementary
  • Burley Elementary
  • Carson Elementary
  • Chicago Academy Elementary
  • Chicago Friends School
  • Chicago Public Schools
  • Chicago Youth Centers, South Shore
  • Chicago Youth Centers, North Lawndale
  • Chopin Elementary
  • Cristo Rey Jesuit HS
  • El Valor, Pilsen
  • Falconer Elementary
  • Galileo Scholastic Academy
  • Gunsaulus Scholastic Academy
  • Hefferan Elementary
merit music communities


  • Holy Cross
  • Imagination Children’s Academy
  • James Ward Elementary School
  • KIPP Academy
  • McDade Classical
  • Moving Everest/By the Hand Club
  • Nixon Elementary
  • Nobel Elementary
  • John M. Palmer Elementary
  • Perez Elementary
  • John J. Pershing Magnet School for Humanities
  • Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy
  • St. Sabina Academy
  • Talcott Fine Arts and Museum Academy
  • Whittier Elementary
  • Wildwood Elementary