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Music ,
submitted by
Andrew Levine

Conservatory Wind Symphony Director


Merit School of Music seeks an instructor to direct the Wind Symphony in the Alice S. Pfaelzer Tuition-Free Conservatory. The Conservatory provides advanced musical training to Chicagoland's most promising and dedicated young musicians. For 26 Saturdays during the school year, students receive classical and/or jazz instruction from Chicago's finest teaching artists in technique, music theory, chamber music, large ensembles, and more. The Wind Symphony is Merit’s top-level wind band for students who audition to be a Conservatory student on a winds, brass, or percussion instrument. Students in the Wind Symphony typically have at least five years of playing experience on an instrument and range from 10th to 12th grade. The Wind Symphony rehearses every Saturday of the Conservatory program and weekly on Tuesday evenings. All rehearsals occur at Merit’s Joy Faith Knapp Music Center, located at 38 S. Peoria St., in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood.

Organization Overview

Merit School of Music is a community music school located in Chicago's West Loop. Our primary goals are to help young people transform their lives and experience personal growth through music by providing access to sustained participation. For more than 40 years, we have been home to a diverse community of talented young musicians and have acted as a springboard for achieving full musical and personal potential. Our 100 passionate and experienced teaching artists provide access to high-quality music education, engaging over 3,000 students annually at our downtown location and in area schools and community centers.

Our students, who reflect Chicago's socioeconomic and ethnic diversity, have the rare opportunity to learn together, dream together, teach each other, and broaden their horizons as they build inspiring lives through music. Merit develops musicians and provides young people with the tools they need to excel in life, with virtually 100 percent of our graduates going to a conservatory or college.

Merit School of Music is committed to building a world where historically underrepresented groups can access quality music education. Simultaneously, Merit is continually working towards becoming an organization that reflects the city's demographics and the students we serve. Merit is dedicated to being an inclusive, diverse, equitable, and anti-racist organization and continually examining our efforts in this area.

Reporting Relationship

The Wind Symphony Director reports to the Band Program Director.

Essential Duties

Responsibilities of the Wind Symphony Director include, but are not limited to:

Teaching and Instruction – 85%

• Deliver high-quality music instruction commensurate with Merit's curricula, teaching philosophy, mission, and values.

• Teach weekly band rehearsals to students assigned to the Wind Symphony in the conservatory.

• Prepare the Wind Symphony for at least four performances throughout the year.

Administrative Duties – 15%

• Report attendance for each rehearsal

• Attend Merit faculty meetings and department meetings

• Lead and facilitate the Wind Symphony leadership team meetings

• Assist in the Conservatory audition process by helping to select audition materials, sitting on an audition panel, and ensemble placements of auditioning students

• Other projects as assigned

Skills and Qualifications

Must-have characteristics:

• Bachelor's degree in music or equivalent experience/training

• Demonstrated success teaching wind band literature to students and directing a band ensemble

• Effective classroom management and ability to cultivate student leadership skills

• A high level of personal musicianship

• Punctual, professional, collegial, responsive, and communicative with a flexible and adaptive disposition

• Be an ambassador for Merit School of Music by representing the organization professionally in all settings and by counseling families and students to pursue their musical studies at the deepest levels.

• Demonstrable commitment to Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Antiracism work

• The ability to travel via car or public transportation

Preferred, but not required

• Experience working with staff and administration to support programming

• Bilingual or multilingual (Spanish or Mandarin especially)


• The Wind Symphony Director will teach 4 hours per week at Merit’s main campus, the Joy Faith Knapp Music Center located at 38 S. Peoria St., Chicago, IL 60607.

• Wind Symphony rehearsals are held every Saturday from 9:40-11:10 am during the Conservatory year from September through April, and every Tuesday from 6:15-8:15 pm. The 2024-2025 Conservatory season starts September 14th and ends April 5th.

• Guide a 30-minute weekly student leadership meeting with members of the ensemble before Tuesday rehearsals.

• The Wind Symphony performs four times yearly: two Conservatory concerts in the winter and the spring and two Sensory-Friendly concerts. The performance dates for the upcoming Conservatory season are Saturday, November 2nd (Sensory Friendly Concert), Friday, December 13th (winter concert), Saturday, February 22nd (Sensory Friendly Concert)*, and Friday, April 4th.

*Tentative date

• Wind Symphony auditions for Conservatory will take place on April 26th.

Compensation and Application

• Hourly base rates are calculated using a proprietary method that considers years of experience, recruitment/retention skills, studio size, education, and established success as a teacher

• Base rates range from $40 to $80 per hour for private lessons, with an additional $2.00 per hour added to the base rate for group classes

• Large ensembles pay 1.5x the group class rate

• Faculty who work in the Merit Music in Communities Program (in-schools and community centers) are reimbursed for mileage as calculated from Merit's main campus

• Full-time faculty (780 annual teaching hours) qualify for insurance benefits. 401K eligibility begins at 500 annual teaching hours after one year of employment.

To apply, please upload your resume detailing your relevant experience and qualifications for this role using this link. Please apply before Monday, July 1, 2024. Materials should be compatible with Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF.

ALAANA/BIPOC people, trans and gender nonconforming people, and women are encouraged to apply.

For more information about the Merit School of Music, please visit

Merit School of Music is committed to enhancing the diversity of our musical community, recognizing that by providing a diverse, equitable, and inclusive learning environment for our students, we are preparing them for personal and professional success in an increasingly multicultural and global society. The Merit community recognizes its responsibility to create and sustain a learning and working environment where difference is valued and equity and inclusion are practiced.

Job Type: Permanent
Compensation: $40 to $80 per hour based on experience
Location: Chicago, IL