Merit School of Music’s faculty and staff have strived to bring music to families in innovative ways. From launching online summer electives on conducting and sound engineering, to kicking off a series of virtual seminars taught by Merit faculty, alums, and world-renowned musicians, Merit’s team continuously thinks outside of the box to keep the music humming.
Not long into the pandemic and the move to 100% virtual instruction, we soon realized students were struggling to keep their instruments in tune. Merit’s Strings Program Manager and Conservatory alum Denise Mol quickly thought of a creative solution: instrument tuning and minor repair pop-up events in convenient, outdoor locations throughout Chicago.
“Playing on an out of tune instrument not only doesn’t sound great, it can actually hinder a student’s musical growth,” Denise explains. “These pop-up events gave us the chance to make sure students’ instruments were in proper working shape and ready to go for the start of fall classes. It was also just great for us to see so many of our students in person again”
Merit Band and Strings faculty and staff traveled across Chicago setting up tuning and repair tents in Chicago parks throughout the month of September – at no cost to families. They chose locations based on density of student population and proximity to Merit Music in Communities sites, ultimately hosting pop-ups in Chicago’s Pilsen, Brighton Park, Humboldt Park, and West Loop neighborhoods. Merit’s team brought along plenty of hand sanitizer and masks, new strings, bows, fingerboards, reeds, mouthpieces, and even some new instruments for students who outgrew theirs over the summer.
With the health and safety of our families and employees in mind, the events were open solely to current Merit students, and we made sure to enforce social distancing and other important safety measures.
In the end, these tuning and repair events helped dozens of Merit students prepare for a new year of music-making. For students still in need of repairs and tuning, Merit continues to offer free instrument tuning and repair services through our West Loop music center’s Glasser-Rosenthal Library, which has reopened by appointment with strict health and safety measures in place. Even though we can’t do business as usual, we are still finding new ways of supporting our students!