Merit School of Music transforms the lives of Chicago-area youth by providing the highest quality music education – with a focus on underserved communities – inspiring young people to achieve their full musical and personal potential. Our non-profit community music school is based at the Joy Faith Knapp Music Center in Chicago’s West Loop. Our skilled faculty provides high-quality music education to youth—from newborns to teens—regardless of their ability to pay. Armed with years of experience and degrees from major conservatories and music schools, our educators are committed to helping young people succeed in music and life. Our culturally- and economically-diverse community of 6,000 students comes from more than 150 Chicago-area zip codes, but they share Merit’s network of support to reach the common goal of musical excellence. We believe music can give youth the tools to grow, develop personal talents and discover success, no matter what path they take in life. On-site, we offer a continuum of programs that take place after school, on weekends and over summer break: Early Childhood Classes Instrumental Music Instruction Private Lessons Alice S. Pfaelzer Tuition-free Conservatory, by audition for the most advanced and motivated young musicians Off-site, through our Bridges: Partners in Music program, we provide music instruction during the school day to more than 4,000 children each year at public, parochial, charter, private schools, and community centers across Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana. The effectiveness of Merit’s education has been demonstrated year after year as students and alumni use their experience to achieve personal success, whether through music or another pursuit. In recent years, some of our talented students and alumni have played at Chicago’s 2011 Lollapalooza, President Obama and Chicago Mayor Emanuel’s inauguration ceremonies, and hold principal chairs in the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and the Metropolitan Opera, to name a few.