We’re thrilled our new mural is featuring the Merit School of Music. Since 1979, this nationally accredited music school has provided access to music education for children in underserved neighborhoods of Chicago.

Co-founders Alice Pfaelzer and Emma Endres-Kountz started this initiative 40 years ago after Chicago Public Schools eliminated arts and music programming from its standard curriculum. What started as weekend instruction for 150 students has grown into Chicago’s community music school with 125 teaching artists at Merit’s West Loop location and in schools and community centers across Chicagoland.

Every year, the school welcomes 3,000 young musicians who participate in early childhood education, group classes in the Instrumental & Vocal Music Program, private lessons for all instruments of classical and jazz music, summer camps for kids in grades 3 to 12, and Merit Music in Communities. There is also the audition-based Alice S. Pfaelzer Tuition-free Conservatory for more than 300 accomplished and high-performing students. Hailing from 90 ZIP codes in the city, almost 100% of these students go on to conservatory or college after graduation.

A National Guild member, the Merit School of Music is committed to ensuring every student has the diverse opportunities to maximize their creative potential. Thanks to a supportive community of donors, Merit is able to provide financial support for 70% of its students, including need-based tuition relief, low-cost instrument rental, and music supplies. This is the key mission of the Merit School of Music: to remove any barriers to participating in music education for any and all interested students.

The mural is a bright representation of the musical and artistic institutions in Chicago and features young students playing a variety of instruments. The skyline of the city spans across the panels with the phrase “Learn, Play, Bloom” to signify the students’ journey through participating in educational opportunities. Also, the city scene is colorfully lit, while other parts of the mural remain in darker shadows. This artistic choice shows the power that music can bring to people’s lives and how it adds life to the entire community.

As Chicago’s Bank®, we’re proud to support this enriching and dynamic learning environment that strengthens the arts and music within our city. Not only does this education inspire our young people, it also contributes to what makes our home unique.

If you’d like to learn more, please visit https://meritmusic.org/.