Whether you’re the first chair in your high school’s orchestra or are just getting started with music, Merit’s celebrated Strings faculty is here to help unlock your full potential. 

For over 40 years, Merit students have made All-State, gone on to attend some of the country’s best music conservatories, pursued careers as teaching artists and performers, and gained confidence to chase their dreams in music and beyond. 

Each year, Merit violinists, violists, cellists, and bassists, of all ages come together to perform in concerts online, at the Joy Faith Knapp Music Center, and at venues throughout the city. Past performances include concerts at the Symphony Center, Chicago History Museum, Chicago Cultural Center, Lincoln Park Zoo, and the World Suzuki Convention in Masumoto, Japan.

Programs for musicians of all levels

Group Classes & Ensembles

In-person & virtual options available

Hone your technique and skill alongside other driven young musicians. Beginners welcome!

Private Lessons

In-person & virtual options available

Work one-on-one with skilled and supportive faculty to explore your individual talents and musical interests.

Alice S. Pfaelzer Conservatory

Join the best of Merit’s talented student musicians by auditioning for Merit’s prestigious tuition-free Conservatory.

Summer Camps & Workshops

Make friends, memories, and music all summer long with Merit’s line-up of in-person & online camps & classes.

Each year, Merit Band students of all ages come together to perform in concerts at the Joy Faith Knapp Music Center and at venues throughout Chicago.

Past performances include concerts at Symphony Center, Millennium Park, The University of Illinois’ Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, and the Illinois Music Education Conference. Even when we can’t make music together in person, the Merit community finds new life online through virtual group classes, Zoom concerts, and socially-distanced private lessons.

Download our Fall Course Catalog! →

Chicago’s finest strings faculty

“My role is to guide students through their many years at Merit, to offer them different encouraging paths, to lift them up when they are in doubt, and redirect them when they are losing strength. Thankfully, music is my greatest ally. Who can resist music’s beauty, its capacity to enter into everyone’s inner spirit? My students look back and realize their transformation through music. They look back and realize the immeasurable value of what Merit helped them achieve.”

– Monica Lugo
Head of Merit’s Suzuki-Alegre Strings Ensemble
& Strings Faculty Member

Cello Student

Our celebrated teaching artists are working jazz, classical, and pop musicians who have toured nationally, led ensembles, and supported students in achieving ambitious goals. Committed to helping Merit students succeed in music and in life, our Strings faculty provides students with the immersive training, feedback, and mentorship they need to learn and grow.