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 »

Stories

MERIT STUDENTS
PREPARE FOR GALA 2022

Merit’s Gala, taking place on May 18 at the Four Seasons, is the first opportunity for many of our students to perform live in our community since 2019! Meet a few of this year’s student performers, including Alegre Strings, Honors Jazz Combo, and more. Hear about how excited they are to dazzle the audience!

ALUM SPOTLIGHT:
GWEN MARAMBA

During her time at Merit, Conservatory Voice Alum Gwen Maramba found her calling in composing and is now Hearing in Color’s Young Composer in Residence. Her debut piece, “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants”, was premiered this past March. Read more about Gwen and watch her piece’s premiere!

MUSIC MASTERS LEAD
WORKSHOPS FOR STUDENTS

Merit School of Music’s Conservatory students sat down with talented industry professionals at the Joy Faith Knapp Music Center for life-changing and inspiring workshops.

STUDENT SPOTLIGHT:
XAVIER

Merit Music in Communities cello student, Xavier, discovered an opportunity for new and creative learning during the pandemic. Read the full story about his remote learning experience.

EXCITEMENT ABOUNDS FOR MERIT ALUM JOSH MHOON AT CARNEGIE HALL

Merit Conservatory alum and current Juilliard freshman, Joshua Mhoon, performed pieces by Isaac Albéniz and Nikolai Kapustin at Carnegie Hall in New York City with a special surprise appearance by world-renowned pianist, Lang Lang. Check out the full story!

VIRTUAL INNOVATIONS:
CHOIR

Carling FitzSimmons, Merit’s Director of Choirs, adapted the choir curriculum to suit changing pandemic circumstances. “I realized we were going to have to completely revamp and restructure the kind of learning we were doing,” FitzSimmons reflects.

THE JOY OF MUSIC:
PANEL OFFERS STUDENTS LIFE ADVICE

Merit’s inspiring Leadership Institute, a free mentorship program supporting Conservatory high school juniors and seniors’ college prep, hosted a panel to chat with students about how music study influenced their careers and gave them valuable life tips.

NEW SCHOLARSHIP FUND
EMERGES AS A WINNER

Emerging Artists Chicago, a thriving hub for the musical community, established a new scholarship for Merit students amidst the pandemic. Mio Nakamura, Co-Founder, discusses her vision and what human connection through music means to her.

BEYOND BEETHOVEN:
STUDENTS & COMPOSERS WORK TOGETHER

Merit students had the opportunity to work with composer and conductor Kevin Day at our Conservatory Winter Concert series. Read about how this unique musical experience impacted the young musicians of Wind Symphony.

PRACTICE TIPS
FOR MUSICIANS OF ALL AGES

The start of a new year is a great time to kick old habits to the curb and create better practice routines and goals. Explore these 16 practice do’s and don’ts from a few of Merit School of Music’s celebrated teaching artists.

DONOR SPOTLIGHT:
DR. JENNIFER TURNER

Dr. Jennifer Turner Spotlight

Check out the amazing story of this dynamic Mother-Daughter Duo, Merit alum Dr. Jennifer Turner and her mother, Dr. Audrey M. Turner, and the scholarship Jennifer created to support young musicians.

PMSA BAND COLLABORATES
WITH CHICAGO FREEDOM ENSEMBLE

PMSA Band Concert

Merit’s Proviso Mathematics & Science Academy (PMSA) band and Chicago Freedom Ensemble’s collaborate for an event fostering creativity and community. Watch excerpts of the performance!

TRAVEL THE WORLD WITH
MERIT x BALLET CHICAGO

Travel across the globe with Merit’s Conservatory musicians and Ballet Chicago’s talented young dancers in our 3rd annual collaboration.

MAKING MUSIC
ACROSS BORDERS

Students and teachers share their virtual private lesson experiences at Merit School of Music, both internationally and nationally.

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A MERIT STUDENT FEATURING LUKE MAGEE

Take a behind the scenes look at a day in the life of Merit Conservatory student Luke Magee studying piano & percussion.

SUMMER POP-UP EVENTS GIVE STUDENTS A CHANCE TO PERFORM & GROW

Merit students visited neighborhoods from Pilsen to Lincoln Park, filling the city with music through a series of Summer Pop-up Events.

HOW TO CHOOSE AN
INSTRUMENT FOR YOUR CHILD

Not sure how to choose an instrument for your child? We’ve made it easy by breaking down the 5 principles to consider.

BEST OF LUCK TO
MERIT’S CLASS OF 2021

As they head off to college, our Class of 2021 graduates reflect on Merit’s impact and share advice for young musicians.

DONOR SPOTLIGHT: TOM & JANET LEOPOLD

Donors like Tom and Janet Leopold help young musicians by believing in Merit’s core mission.

ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: MADDY DEANNE

Aspiring physician Maddy Deanne reflects on how her time at Merit nurtured her desire to help others.

MERIT'S JOY FAITH KNAPP MUSIC CENTER REOPENS JULY 6

After 16 months of making music and creating community virtually, we are beyond excited to kick off summer camps & classes by reopening our doors in July.

CLASS OF 2021:
THE CHAMPIONS

Conservatory graduates found a meaningful and creative way to celebrate graduation this year, proving that Merit’s community remains as strong as ever.

STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: TONY

When Tony was in first grade, he was diagnosed with autism and ADHD. Soon after, Tony’s mother enrolled him in music lessons at Merit.

MERIT ESTABLISHES COVID RELIEF FUND

Thanks to support from the Ralla Klepak Foundation, our newest financial aid fund ensures COVID-19 can’t stop the music.

VIRTUAL
PERFORMANCES

Enjoy some of our favorite socially-distanced student performances that you can watch from the safety and comfort of home.

HOW TO BECOME A STRONGER MUSICIAN DURING A PANDEMIC

Merit School of Music and Chicago Sinfonietta put together a free resource to help you develop your musical skills and artistic practice during a pandemic.

MERIT MUSIC IN COMMUNITIES SPOTLIGHT:
GUNSAULUS ELEMENTARY

“We as adults have to do whatever it takes to make sure that access to what’s essential is never taken away.” – Principal Kiltae Fernando Kim, Gunsaulus Elementary

MERIT HOSTS INSTRUMENT TUNING POP-UPS THROUGHOUT CHICAGO

Not long into the pandemic, Merit realized students were struggling to keep their instruments in tune. Our team quickly found a creative solution.

VIRTUAL OPEN HOUSE

Curious what it’s like to learn music online? Pop into a few virtual classrooms to meet some of Merit’s amazing faculty and experience it for yourself.

THANK YOU, ESSENTIAL WORKERS!

Merit’s Philharmonic and String Orchestras recorded a moving performance of Holst’s Jupiter in honor of the essential workers who are keeping us safe.

BUILDING AN ANTIRACIST MUSIC SCHOOL

Merit School of Music stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and join those who are speaking out against racism and hate.

MUSIC HELPS ME LEARN AND GROW

In this infographic, learn how early access to music education helps babies and toddlers gain essential developmental and social skills.

5 WAYS TO KEEP THE MUSIC GOING

Make the most of social isolation by using music to connect with friends, neighbors, family, and the Merit community.

THE POWER OF SONG

In this infographic, learn how access to music education can impact a child’s cognitive growth, wellbeing, and community.

MERIT STUDENT CHOSEN BY LANG LANG

Learn how Joshua Mhoon, a 16-year-old Merit student, was recognized by the Lang Lang Foundation as one of the most promising young pianists in the world.

ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: ABRIL

“Music lessons are the last thing you want to give up, but sometimes they’re the first thing that has to go. Merit made sure that my family didn’t have to make that decision.”

Growing Up at Merit

While preparing for the next chapter in her life as a musician and student, Carly reflected on the community that helped her become the person she is today.

HEROES: ROLE MODELS IN MUSIC

Mentorship matters! Proviso Mathematics & Science Academy band showed younger Merit students what it takes to set and achieve ambitious goals.

The Summer of a Lifetime

In 2019, two Merit students joined the National Youth Orchestra. Learn how NYO gave them the opportunity to travel the world while doing what they loved.

ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: EMILY & SAMUEL ALVELO

Siblings Emily and Samuel Alvelo attended Merit as children. Learn how their time at Merit prepared them to pursue careers outside of music.

Merit Wind Symphony Performs

Merit’s Conservatory Wind Symphony was invited by the University of Illinois to take a special tour of the school and perform alongside the illustrious Illinois Wind Symphony.

PASS ON MUSIC: A MERIT DONOR’S STORY

Friend of Merit Diana Leifer supported music education with a particularly meaningful gift. Hear the story of why Diana sold her mother’s piano to support young Chicago musicians.