Merit School of Music in Chicago IL

The Merit School of Music works to transform 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. More than 15 years ago, the Replogle Foundation set up The Mary Herron Replogle Scholarship program for college students who attended Merit during their high school years. This program provides $3,000 per student for four years of college. The Replogle Foundation has provided support, in one form or another, to the Merit School of Music since it was a small start-up non-profit.

Learn more at: Merit School of Music

Student Stories

Jazzy Sue Rangel, Flute (2014-2018)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Jazzy Rangel, Merit School of Music graduate

2014 Graduation – Jazzy Rangel Accepting Scholarship

I chose the flute because I really admired the dark, rich tone quality in the low register when I first heard it. Merit became a second home to me. . .and starting with the conservatory in my sophomore year of high school, I was challenged to play more difficult repertoire. Through these challenges, I became a role model to other students….At Merit, I experienced comfort and love through music by students, teachers, and staff; I was able to form connections and relationships with people who were able to see and understand my passion. . . these are valuable things to take with me to college and keep in life. . . My college major is Music Education. . .because I want to impact people through a universal language with no limitations. Teachers made an impact on me, and I want to do the same.

Kamila Hines Muhammad, Merit School of Music graduate

Kamila Hines Muhammad, Clarinet & Saxophone (2012-2016)
Northwestern University

I am very grateful to be a recipient of the Mary Heron Replogle Scholarship and to have been a student at the Merit School of Music. This year I played in Symphonic Band, Jazz Orchestra and Jazz Combos, and a group called Syndicate 119: an 8-piece hip-hop/funk/pop/jazz collective for which we write our own tunes and arrangements. I also volunteered at the Cook County Temporary Detention Center, mentoring residents and teaching them how to make beats on GarageBand through Northwestern’s Arts and Music Programs for Education in Detention Centers (AMPED).

. . .this summer I interned in the education department at Jazz at Lincoln Center which provided me with immeasurable networking, administrative, interpersonal and organizational skills, and also afforded me the opportunity to play with the organization’s managing and artistic director, world-renowned trumpet player Wynton Marsalis. That experience was incredible to say the least. . .a memory I will treasure always. I offer my sincerest gratitude for your generosity to the Merit School of Music and to me.

Paul Ghica, Cello (2000–2004)
Freelance musician, Melbourne, Australia

When I think back to the most important times during my training as a cellist, the Merit School of Music holds a high and honored place.  That it was called the Merit Music Program at the time may perhaps betray my age, but although the name, logo, and location were different, the values and quality of instruction were the same.  Some of the gifts I received from the school, I only realized years down the line how truly career-changing they would be, such as my chamber music coaching with the incomparable Adam Smyla and Edna Koren.  Other gifts, however, I became aware instantly of their helpfulness.  One such gift in the latter category was the Mary Herron Replogle Scholarship.

Paul Ghica, Merit School of Music graduateBeing a string musician is hard enough.  Being one of two string musicians from an immigrant family with limited means is even harder.  There is no avoiding the cost of a quality instrument (along with regular maintenance and string replacements), the importance of world-class instruction, sheet music, and a host of other expenses that can bleed a musician dry.  The Replogle Scholarship helped me better navigate this minefield of expenses during my studies.

However, that is only the beginning.  It might be easy for me to chalk down the Scholarship to a matter of simple convenience: “Things are expensive, and the Scholarship helped.”  In truth, the Scholarship did so much more.  The biggest issue with the above is that most student musicians, in order to make ends meet, take other work.  Some teach, others play weddings, and others still wait tables.  While there is value in each line of work, it can be the difference between a good student and a mediocre one.  A student that can give their full, unadulterated time to the pursuit of knowledge becomes a sponge.  Too many outside responsibilities during this undeniably crucial time can stifle a student’s progress ― progress that the student may not have an opportunity to make up later.

It is for this reason I am so thankful for the Mary Herron Replogle Scholarship.  It allowed me to do what I needed to do: to learn, and put the responsibilities of earning a living wage off for that crucial amount of time.  Thanks to this, I enjoy the career I have today.  As a freelance cellist currently living in Melbourne, Australia, I am honored to play regularly with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Chamber Orchestra, and Orchestra Victoria.  And when I want to let loose, I get to do session work for X Factor, Dancing with the Stars, and Australia’s Got Talent.  Exactly zero percent of this would have been achievable without the help I received from Merit and the Replogle Scholarship, and I will never fully be able to express my gratitude.