Early Childhood

Merit’s Early Childhood learning environment is playful, developmentally appropriate and musically rich. We incorporate song, chant, movement exercises and instrument play to develop a child’s imagination, musical awareness and expressiveness. Our programs support a child’s first steps in a lifetime journey of musical appreciation that inspires them to participate in our Instrumental Music program and eventually the Alice S. Pfaelzer Tuition-free Conservatory.

 

Special Offers!

FREE TRIAL CLASS: Trying to decide if music is the right fit for your student?  Contact Student Services to schedule one free trial class before enrolling in the full session. 

REGISTER AT ANY TIME: Merit accepts late registrants into classes with open spots even after classes have begun for the session.  Contact Student Services to join a class at any point with prorated tuition for your missed classes.  Subject to class availability. 

REFER-A-FRIEND DISCOUNT: Receive $20 off your student’s tuition for each friend you refer who enrolls in Merit Early Childhood classes.  See Student Services for details. 

SIBLING DISCOUNT: Receive $20 off your second or third child’s tuition when you enroll more than on student in Early Childhood classes.  This discount does not apply to Ukulele & You! classes.  See Student Services for details.

 

STUDENT SERVICES HOURS

Monday – Thursday 12:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Friday 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
Saturday – Sunday       Closed

To get in touch with Student Services, email studentservices@meritmusic.org or call 312.786.9428 during office hours. Student Services will be closed during the week of September 24.

Auto-Enrollment Policies

How does the automatic re-enrollment program work?

Students who join the automatic re-enrollment program will simply need to complete their formal registration once and then your spot in class is secured in perpetuity (or until you tell us you’d like to cancel).  Your credit card will be charged at the start of each 10-week session and all future paperwork and registration hassle will be taken care of for you! 

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?

Beginning in Fall 2018, all registrations for Merit’s Early Childhood Program will default to the automatic re-enrollment program.  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.

Filter By:


Students that have received a course code from their instructors can use that code here:

$190 class tuition

+$30 registration fee (per academic year)


Ages: 21 and up

Whether your favorite is Jason Mraz's I'm Yours, Elvis Presley's Can't Help Falling in Love, or Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's Somewhere Over the Rainbow, it's hard not to love the ukulele! Join other adults in this no experience necessary class for beginners. Ukulele is easy to learn, portable, and fun to play alone or in a group. Students will learn all the fundamentals- how to hold, tune, play chords, strum, and more while singing well known songs and soon to be favorites. Your instrument fee includes the cost of a high-quality concert-sized ukulele that is yours to keep!

Details
$190

GRADES: 5th - 10th

Available to students via teacher recommendation or placement audition.

Students will improve their individual instrument skills in a 55-minute group class and will join a more experienced band ensemble. Students in the Advanced Band may be encouraged to audition for the Tuition-free Conservatory.

STUDENTS WILL LEARN:

  • scales and arpeggios in major and minor keys
  • expand dynamic range of the instrument
  • to count complex rhythms
  • to identify common intervals aurally and visually
  • to sight read
  • to recognize music from various genres and periods

SCHEDULE:

Classes meet once per week and includes ONE 60 MINUTE BAND CLASS AND ONE 55 MINUTE INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC CLASS (29 weeks)

Details
$755

Music Explorers: 0-15 months with caregiver
10-week session
$200 Per session (new students)
$180 Per session (automatic re-enrollment discount)
+ $30 registration fee (per academic year)

Stimulate your baby's young mind by exploring movement, rhythm, simple percussion instruments, and high and low sounds. In Music Explorers, babies are introduced to musical sounds, sensations, and instruments like shakers, tambourines, and drums that help develop motor skills and create strong neural pathways. Join Merit's community of parents and caregivers in musical games and activities that introduce music for the first time and learn along with your baby so that you can continue making music at home.

Parent/Caregiver attendance required.

Details
$180

Tuneful Toddlers: 16-23 months with caregiver

10-week session

$200 Per session (new students)

$180 Per session (automatic re-enrollment discount)

+ $30 registration fee (per academic year)


Put your toddler's energy to good use! In Tuneful Toddlers, your child will laugh, dance, and bounce to the beat of music from around the world. Children cooperate with each other as they sing and play simple percussion instruments together, and grown-ups learn new songs, games, and activities to continue music learning at home. By creating simple rhythms with their bodies and learning songs, nursery rhymes, and movement from our American heritage and world cultures, children develop coordination and motor skills, strengthen spatial reasoning, and increase language and literacy.


Students must be at least 16 months old by the first day of class to participate.


Parent/Caregiver attendance required.

Details
$180

Movers & Groovers: 2-3 years with caregiver
10-week session
$200 Per session (new students)
$180 Per session (automatic re-enrollment discount)
+ $30 registration fee (per academic year)

Merit's Movers and Groovers classes focus on your child's developing social/emotional and gross motor skills through musical games, listening exercises, and group songs an activities. You'll see examples of their cognitive growth as students are able to independently repeat familiar songs in class and have opportunities to practice sharing with friends and classmates. Explore new instruments and sounds while both you and your student develop friendships with members of your classroom and Merit community.

Students must be at least 2 years old by the first day of class in order to participate.

Parent/Caregiver attendance required.


Details
$180

Music Masters I: 3-5 years with caregiver

10-week session

$200 Per session (new students)

$180 Per session (automatic re-enrollment discount)

+ $30 registration fee (per academic year)


Prepare to be amazed at what your young musician can do! In Music Masters I, students will learn the components of timbre, rhythm, pitch, beat, and style through your child?s love of music, art, and storytelling. In this imaginative class, your child will explore beat and rhythm, experiment with percussion instruments, and play and sing along to music from world cultures. Children and their parents/caregivers cooperate in class, and teachers discuss ways to continue learning outside the classroom as well.


Students must be at least 3 years old by the first day of class to participate.


Parent/Caregiver attendance required.

Details
$180

Mixed Ages/ Family Class

See individual classes for schedules and tuition information.

Ukuleles are taking the world by storm - and it's time to see how this versatile instrument can make at-home music even more fun! In this new adult-child class, grown-ups learn to play ukulele while the whole classroom community is engaged with family activities that include songs, singing games and dances, musical books and instrument exploration. This class is designed for activities to continue at home to extend learning and family time through music. Siblings are welcome to attend for a discounted rate and your class tuition includes the cost of a high-quality concert sized ukulele that is yours to keep! Parent/Caregiver attendance required.


Beginning Beats

New to ukulele? Then this class is for you! The first class of the 10-week session is an introductory lesson reserved for grown-ups only. Children join the class in the second week.


Rocking On

Families who have completed the beginning ukulele class (Beginning Beats) should register for this continuing level. Extended techniques such as plucking, finger picking, and TAB notation are explored along with nonstop family fun!





Details
$305

Music Masters II: 5-7 years, some caregiver attendance required
30-week session (October 2018 - May 2019)
$550 Per year (payment plans available)
+ $30 registration fee (per academic year)

Music Masters II is designed as a pre-requisite class to prepare young students for instrument study. Whether your student dreams of playing the piano, violin, percussion, or any other instrument, this class teaches the basics of music theory, note reading, and music composition through activities such musical games and stories. Throughout the year, students explore the instrument families, learn to play the glockenspiel (a pre-cursor to piano), and complete short weekly homework assignments to reinforce learning. This class can be taken as a continuation of Music Masters I (3-5 years) or as a stand-alone class.

Students who graduate from the Music Masters II program receive early admittance into and priority registration for Merit's Instrumental & Vocal Music Program.

Students must be at least 5 years old by the first day of class to participate.

Parents/Caregivers will join their child for the last 15 minutes of each class.

Classes are 60 minutes long during the first semester and 70 minutes long during the second semester (starting in February).

Details
$550

Grades: 4th - 8th

Beginner classes introduce young musicians to their choice of woodwind, brass, or percussion instruments in a small group setting with like instruments. Additionally, students will come together and rehearse as a band.

STUDENTS WILL LEARN:

  • to play the instrument with proper posture, hand position, embouchure and articulation
  • to recognize the parts of the musical staff, note names, and time signatures
  • to count simple rhythms
  • to recognize common musical symbols and define basic vocabulary

Classes meet once per week and includes ONE 55 MINUTE BAND CLASS AND ONE 60 MINUTE INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC CLASS (29 weeks)

Details
$755

GRADES: 4th - 8th

Guitar students begin instruction at Merit in small group classes of five to eight students. Classes meet for 55 minutes each week and the small group atmosphere allows for individual attention as well as group learning.

STUDENTS WILL LEARN:

  • to identify the parts of the musical staff
  • to read notes and rhythms
  • to play scales, arpeggios and chords in 1st and 2nd position
  • to adjust their guitars to play in tune

SCHEDULE: Classes meet once per week (29 weeks)

Details
$650

GRADES: 1st - 6th

Beginning Piano students learn to read music, define basic vocabulary terms and begin performing a variety of pieces.

STUDENTS WILL LEARN:

  • proper posture and hand position
  • to recognize parts of the musical staff
  • to read rhythms and notes in treble and bass clefs

SCHEDULE:

Classes meet once per week for 55 MINUTES (29 weeks)

Details
$650
Grades: 5th-10th

Students have the opportunity to develop their voice as an instrument and deepen their musical studies through Merit's unique Vocal Curriculum. Students will also attend Mixed Chorus which is a mandatory class for all Merit voice students (see Mixed Chorus for more details).
Students will learn:
+ to sing selected intervals and scales
+to identify different time signatures, key signatures, dynamics and musical vocabulary
+to identify the passagio (or break) in their voice
+to produce a good vocal tone at all ranges and dynamic levels
+to sing repertoire in two part harmony
+to sing English, Latin, Spanish, and Italian

Classes meet once per week (29 weeks)
Details
$755
AGES: 4 - 7 years
Students must be 4 years old by October 1, 2018

This class requires students to register for weekly private lessons in addition to the 45-minute group class.

These classes provide the necessary building blocks for young musicians interested in playing stringed instruments. Classes are large enough for students to play as a group, yet small enough for beginners to receive the individual attention they need. Parent attendance is required. It's a fun, collaborative environment!

Students will learn:
  • the proper way to hold their instrument and bow, while beginning to play their first notes
  • basic ensemble and listening skills
  • to apply their instrumental technique and musical knowledge through Suzuki repertoire and Latin folk music
Requirements:
New Suzuki- Alegre Strings families are required to participate in a training class (dates TBD).

Note: Children should not attend the training session, but a fun musical activity will be available to those who have parents attending. Children are not required to attend this activity.
Details
$545
Grades: K-5th

These classes provide the necessary building blocks for young musicians interested in playing stringed instruments. classes are large enough for students to play as a group, yet small enough for beginners to receive the individual attention they need. It's a fun, collaborate environment.

Students will learn:
  • the proper way to hold their instrument and bow, while beginning to play their first notes
  • to read notes and rhythms on the staff
  • to apply their instrumental technique and musical knowledge through basic repertoire

Details
$650
Grades: K-4th

Merit's Children's Choir is great for students who want to begin using their voice as an instrument. Children's Choir does not require prior singing experience and can be added to any program or purchased as a stand-alone class. Students must be at least 6 years old by October 1, 2018 to enroll.

Students will learn:
  • to use proper vocal technique including posture, breathing and vowel shape
  • to sing in solfege (do-re-mi)
  • to count rhythms
  • to sing in unison and harmony
Schedule: Classes meet once per week for 60 minutes (29 weeks)
Details
$180

GRADES: 1st - 10th

Students enrolling in this course must also register for weekly private lessons - Register here. Prices may vary depending on duration of the class (90-minutes). Available to students via teacher recommendation or placement audition.

Our faculty challenges students in these classes with more complex piano repertoire and musical concepts. Students learn musicianship and instrumental technique, while building knowledge and discipline on their way to becoming a poised musician. An average of five to six students per class provides a group experience while allowing for individual attention.

STUDENTS WILL LEARN:

  • major and minor key signatures and to incorporate their knowledge through scales and arpeggios
  • complex rhythms
  • the use of pedals

SCHEDULE:

Classes meet once per week for 90 MINUTES (29 weeks)

Details
$880

GRADES: 6th - 10th

Available to students via teacher recommendation or placement audition.

As students advance through the program, they will have the opportunity to expand their musical studies in an extended class that focuses on more advanced techniques.

STUDENTS WILL LEARN:

  • to play scales and arpeggios in major and minor keys
  • to play, major, minor, and seventh chords
  • to play guitar repertoire in a variety of styles from different genres of music
  • to improvise melodies over a series of chord changes
  • to identify common intervals aurally and visually

SCHEDULE:

Classes meet once per week for 90 MINUTES (29 weeks)

Details
$880
Grades: 4th-10th

This class requires students to register for weekly private lessons in addition to the 90-minute group class.

Most students will have completed at least 4 years of instruction. This class is available to students via teacher recommendation or placement audition.

In these most advanced classes, students will continue learning together through the Suzuki method and prepare to audition for the Alice S. Pfaelzer Tuition-free Conservatory. Students continue their orchestral training each week, while attending a longer, more intensive instrumental music class designed to enhance instrumental technique, musical knowledge and musical skills. Class sizes remain small and personal while students work closely with our highly qualified and energetic string teachers. Students will showcase their skills in the winter and spring concerts as well as Merit's annual StringTacular Concert in the spring. Parent attendance is required.

Students will learn:
  • scales and arpeggios in major, natrual minor keys
  • effective vibrato and advanced fingerings and positions
  • a more advanced approach to bow technique that incorporates double stops, multiple-note slurs and off-the-string articulations
Classes meet once per week and includes a 90-minute group class and one 60-minute orchestra (29 weeks).
Details
$990
Grades: 5th-9th

Most students will have completed at least 4 years of instruction. This class is available to students via teacher recommendation or placement audition.

Final preparations for entry into the Alice S. Pfaelzer Tuition-free Conservatory! Students continue their orchestral training each week, while attending a longer, more intensive instrumental music class designed to enhance instrumental technique, musical knowledge and musical skills. Class sizes remain small and personal and students work closely with our highly qualified and energetic string teachers. Students will showcase their skills in Merit's winter and spring concerts.

Students will learn:
  • scales and arpeggios in major, natural minor keys
  • effective vibrato
  • advanced fingerings and positions
  • a more advanced approach to bow technique that incorporates double stops, multiple note slurs and off-the-string articulations
Classes meet once per week for 2.5 hours (29 weeks)
Details
$990

GRADES: 5th - 10th

Available to students via teacher recommendation or placement audition.

Students will improve their individual instrument skills in a 55-minute group class and will join a more experienced band ensemble. Students in the Advanced Band may be encouraged to audition for the Tuition-free Conservatory.

STUDENTS WILL LEARN:

  • scales and arpeggios in major and minor keys
  • expand dynamic range of the instrument
  • to count complex rhythms
  • to identify common intervals aurally and visually
  • to sight read
  • to recognize music from various genres and periods

SCHEDULE:

Classes meet once per week and includes ONE 60 MINUTE BAND CLASS AND ONE 55 MINUTE INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC CLASS (29 weeks)

Details
$755

GRADES: 1st - 10th

Prices may vary depending on duration of the class (55-minutes). Available to students via teacher recommendation or placement audition.

Our faculty challenges students in these classes with more complex piano repertoire and musical concepts. Students learn musicianship and instrumental technique, while building knowledge and discipline on their way to becoming a poised musician. An average of five to six students per class provides a group experience while allowing for individual attention.

STUDENTS WILL LEARN:

  • major and minor key signatures and to incorporate their knowledge through scales and arpeggios
  • complex rhythms
  • the use of pedals

SCHEDULE:

Classes meet once per week for 55 MINUTES (30 weeks)

Details
$650

GRADES: 1st - 10th

Prices may vary depending on duration of the class (90-minutes). Available to students via teacher recommendation or placement audition.

Our faculty challenges students in these classes with more complex piano repertoire and musical concepts. Students learn musicianship and instrumental technique, while building knowledge and discipline on their way to becoming a poised musician. An average of five to six students per class provides a group experience while allowing for individual attention.

STUDENTS WILL LEARN:

  • major and minor key signatures and to incorporate their knowledge through scales and arpeggios
  • complex rhythms
  • the use of pedals

SCHEDULE:

Classes meet once per week for 90 MINUTES (29 weeks)

Details
$880

GRADES: 4th - 10th

Available to students via teacher recommendation or placement audition.

After roughly one year in the program, faculty challenge students advance to further develop technique, musical skills and knowledge.

STUDENTS WILL LEARN:

  • to play scales and arpeggios in major and minor keys
  • to play, major, minor, and seventh chords
  • to play guitar repertoire in a variety of styles from different genres of music
  • to improvise melodies over a series of chord changes
  • to identify common intervals aurally and visually

SCHEDULE:

Classes meet once per week for 55 MINUTES (29 weeks)

Details
$650
Grades: 1st-10th

This class requires students to register for weekly private lessons in addition to the 55-minute group class.

Most students will have completed at least 2 years of instruction. This class is available to students via teacher recommendation or placement audition.

In these performance-based classes, students will continue learning together through the Suzuki method in instrumental music classes in preparation for playing in large ensemble. Students will showcase their skills at Merit's annual StringTacular Concert in the spring. Parent Attendance is required.

Students will learn:
  • Advanced Suzuki-Alegre Strings repertoire
  • Advanced technique on the instrument
  • to become acquainted with reading more difficult rhythms and key signatures
  • advanced ensemble skills
Classes meet once per week and includes a 55-minute group class and one 60-minute orchestra (29 weeks).
Details
$755
Grades: K-7th

This class requires students to register for weekly private lessons in addition to the 55-minute group class.

Most students will have completed at least 1 year of instruction. This class is available to students via teacher recommendation or placement audition.

In these performance-based classes, students will continue learning together through the Suzuki method in instrumental music classes in preparation for playing in large ensemble. Students will showcase their skills at Merit's annual StringTacular Concert in the spring. Parent Attendance is required.

Students will learn:
  • Intermediate Suzuki-Alegre Strings repertoire
  • to refine their technique and facility on the instrument
  • to become acquainted with reading more difficult rhythms and key signatures
  • continued ensemble skills
Classes meet once per week for 55-minutes (29 weeks)
Details
$650
Grades: 1st - 7th

Most students will have completed at least 1 year of instruction. This class is available to students via teacher recommendation or placement audition.

Students will continue to work on solo repertoire and basic skills while preparing to play in a large ensemble. A spring concert will be held to showcase the students' skills.

Students will learn:
  • basic scales and arpeggios
  • more advanced finger positions
  • to refine their technique and facility on the instrument
  • to become more comfortable reading notes and rhythms

Classes meet once per week for 55-minutes (29 weeks)
Details
$650
Grades: 5th-10th

Most students will have completed at least 2 years of instruction. This class is available to students via teacher recommendation or placement audition.

Most students begin string orchestra in the third year of study, when they come together to play alongside one another while continuing in their instrumental musical classes. The string orchestras will showcase their skills in the winter and spring concerts.

Students will learn:
  • to use all four strings
  • advanced finger positions
  • to count basic rhythms and begin counting rhythms
  • to identify common intervals aurally and visually
  • to identify common key signatures
Classes meet once per week for 2 hours (29 weeks)
Details
$755
Grades: 5th-10th

Available to students via teacher recommendation or placement audition.

Students will continue to develop their voice as an instrument and deepen their musical studies through Merit's unique vocal curriculum. Students will also attend Mixed Chorus which is a mandatory class for all Merit voice students (see Mixed Chorus for more details).

Students will learn:
  • to sing repertoire in three and four part harmony
  • to learn to sight-sing
  • to refine aural skills
  • to take part in advanced small and large group repertoire
  • to refine tone and technique
Schedule:
Classes meet once per week and includes one 55- minute group class and one 60 minute large ensemble rehearsal (29 weeks).
Details
$990
Private lessons are the key component to reaching one's full potential as a musician, especially when combined with Merit School of Music's instrumental Music or Alice S. Pfaelzer Tuition-free Conservatory programs. Merit School of Music's faculty provides students with one-on-one instruction that is necessary to advance their level of musicianship and allows students to explore their individual talents and interests, develop skills and overcome challenges. Students who take private lessons learn in-depth instrumental technique, practice methods, dedication, commitment and achievement. Feedback is a required part of the process.

Resources and opportunities included in private lesson tuition:
  • one on one instruction with tailored goal setting
  • Access to Merit's highly qualified and dedicated faculty
  • Financial aid for qualifiying families
  • Annual studio recital
  • Merit Young Musician's Competition (March)
  • Two written evaluations per year (February and June)
  • Access to Merit's library and audio/visual recordings
  • Free admission to most Merit concerts at the Joy Faith Knapp Music Center
Details
 
One of Merit's signature programs, the Alice S. Pfaelzer Tuition-free Conservatory represents the culmination of Merit's music education continuum with the most accomplished of the student musicians; entry is by audition only.

In return for students' hard work and dedication, Merit provides the Conservatory experience on a tuition free basis. Students' skills are showcased in concerts and performances throughout the year. instruction from Chicago's finest music educators is provided through a weekly curriculum that includes large ensembles, instrumental technique classes, music theory classes and a variety of elective classes, as well as live performances. World-class professional artists lead master classes.
Details