Jazzed Up for Music

Leslie Martinez

The world’s top academically performing countries place a high value on music education. Countries like Hungary, Netherlands and Japan have required music training at the elementary and middle school levels, both instrumental and vocal, for several decades. (International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IAEEA) Test) .Therefore if music education has had such an impact on students in other countries why has music education been cut out in many schools across North America?

Merit School of Music in Chicago understands that today’s students are the future. They believe that no student should be left behind providing nationally recognized music education for students of all backgrounds. Their mission is to “Help young people achieve their full music potential, remove economic barriers, and to simulate personal and educational growth through music.”

Merit School of Music was founded in 1979 by Alice s Pfaelzer and Emma Endres Kountz ever since music education was removed from Chicago Public Schools. When first opened Merit was located at Roosevelt University with only Saturday classes (Tuition Free Conservatory), and then they moved their location to the basement of Dearborn station and lastly the Chicago fine arts building.  Until in 2005 Merit purchased an old TV studio in Chicago’s West loop on 38th Peoria Street.

Today Merit has students of all ages, to almost newborn or a couple months old to high school seniors coming from all over the Chicago suburbs to take part in the different programs that Merit has to offer. Programs for all kinds of instrumentalists like: Orchestra, Vocal, Brass, Pianist, and Percussion. Also music theory and a variety of elective classes like chamber music, and composition or piano for future college majors.

Then there is the Alice S Pfaelzer Tuition Free Conservatory represented by Merits most talented student musicians. These students must pass an entry audition then second audition in order to enroll. Taking part in the conservatory requires a 3-7 hour commitment every Saturday for 26 Saturdays of the academic school year. These students are required to attend the winter and spring concerts along with the Conservatory’s annual Performathon which includes 20 hours of music from various music groups or soloists of the conservatory. Basic classes for every Tuition Free Conservatory student include Music theory , electives, a group ensemble, and a technique class for your major. In audition at noon each week the entire student body comes together for Live from Gottlieb performances from world class professional artists and renowned Merit Faculty.

Merit has placed their own little grain of sand in this Earth to make a difference in the students’ lives with quality music education.