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Since 1979, Merit School of Music has engaged thousands of Chicagoland youth through equal access to deep, meaningful, and high-quality music education.


At Merit, students do not only learn to play an instrument or sing. They build self-confidence, persistence, and creativity through participation in a vibrant and welcoming musical community. Students of all ages, backgrounds, and experience levels come together to study with the best music educators in the region through the renowned music school’s extensive line-up of group classes, private lessons, Early Childhood programming, and more.


The Alice S. Pfaelzer Conservatory is the culmination of Merit’s instructional continuum and one of the country's most prestigious music programs for driven student musicians. For 26 Saturdays during the academic school year, students receive instruction from Chicago’s finest music educators through participation in a variety of pre-collegiate classes including technique, music theory, chamber music, large ensembles, and more—all TUITION-FREE.


Merit’s Conservatory consists of six instrument divisions:

  • Band
  • Guitar
  • Jazz
  • Orchestra
  • Piano
  • Voice

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