The Power of Music at Merit

With a diverse community from all over Chicagoland and a commitment to excellence, the nationally accredited Merit School of Music inspires community, achievement and a lifelong love of music.

When Analia Arias was given a cello two years ago as part of her elementary school’s music program, the Arias family had no idea they were about to embark on a musical journey that would include the whole family. 

The now seventh grader was so excited about her new instrument that her mother, Ana Arias, decided to seek out additional music training. “I felt Analia needed more instruction than she was getting at school,” she says. “Also, a teacher recommended that Analia learn an instrument to boost the speech therapy she was receiving.” Music and communication use the same parts of the brain, which in turn benefits speech. 

Her research led her to the acclaimed Merit School of Music where Analia as well as her 6-year-old daughter, Ashley, have been enthusiastic cello students for the past two years. Located in Chicago’s West Loop, Merit School of Music builds both musicianship and community, with a vibrant student population that reflects the ethnic and socioeconomic diversity of the Chicagoland area. Merit’s focus is not just music education and excellence but also personal growth and potential.

Merit School of Music strikes the right note

What does a day at Merit look like? It depends on the child’s interests and goals. According to mom Ana Arias, “There’s something for everyone.”

In addition to private lessons and group music classes, Merit School of Music offers ensembles, summer camps, and early childhood classes. For the most advanced and dedicated students there is an audition-based and tuition-free program, the Alice S. Pfaelzer Conservatory, which represents the best youth musicians in Chicagoland.

Voice student Hannah Gill, 18, appreciates the opportunity to expand her musical horizons at Merit with the support of a superb faculty. “Every single teacher at Merit holds each student to a super high standard,” says Gill. “That’s what keeps me on a path of getting better and being the best I can be. And that’s something not only encouraged by my teachers, but by my fellow students as well.”

Besides wide class offerings and a faculty filled with accomplished Chicago-area educators, Merit School of Music is a place where kids who love music go to find like-minded counterparts.

“Merit School of Music is a very friendly environment,” says Analia. “The other students are supportive of each other and my teacher describes things in ways that you will understand.”

Benefits of learning music

Playing music has benefits beyond just singing or strumming. Studies have shown that kids who study music do better in school subjects like math or science. Learning any type of musical instrument, including voice, encourages perseverance and commitment. And while many Merit School of Music students go on to college music majors, the students who don’t tend to go into STEM fields. 

However, increased brain power isn’t the only reason to pursue music at Merit. Learning and performing with other music lovers encourages not only a fun atmosphere but also community and belonging.

Hannah Gill has found her Merit experience to be rewarding musically as well as personally: “Merit has shown me what a community can really be – being around people who expect a lot of you because they see a lot in you. At Merit, I know I’m going to learn something new every day and I’m also going to have a ton of fun. Merit has been one of the greatest parts of my teenage years. It feels like my home.” 

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Jennifer Kales
Jennifer Kales
Content editor Jennifer Kales has been in the business of writing for more than 20 years creating advertising copy, blogs, books and everything in between. She loves helping Chicago Parent clients tell their stories in a way that resonates with audiences.


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