Steve Merrill is part of a musical couple. His wife, Michelle, has been a guest conductor at the Jacksonville Symphony and is assistant conductor at the Detroit Symphony.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a professional musician?
I always loved science and math as a kid, so I started a computer science degree in college. But every time I was in class or working on homework I would always just think about how I could be spending the time practicing instead. These days, if I had no choice but to do something else I think I’d try to get a job as a firefighter. My wife’s family is full of firefighters and they’re a great group of people. Plus, I like an atypical work schedule.
What do you do in your spare time (other than practice!)?
Other than running and hanging out with my awesome wife Michelle, the only hobby I really have is non-classical music. I study tabla (North Indian hand drums) and jazz (vibraphone and drum set). I’ve played in gamelans (Indonesian percussion orchestras) and have been to Bali to study music and bring back instruments. One of the fun things about percussion is that it crosses over into almost every genre of music so there’s so much out there to experience.
What is your favorite thing about being a professional musician?
Making great music.
What sport(s) do you participate in?
Mostly running – road running and trail running. I think over the years I’ve managed to advance from ‘bad’ to ‘ok’. I also sometimes pretend to not be terrible at tennis, golf, and racquetball.
Do you have a favorite team?
The Dallas Mavericks.
What is your favorite food?
Who is your favorite composer?
Prokofiev, Brahms (I just wish he had written more for percussion), Ravel.
What are you currently listening to?
Brad Mehldau, Tom Waits.
Bachelor of Music from Southern Methodist University, Master of Music from the New England Conservatory of Music. Primary teachers include Ed Stephan, Will Hudgins, and Doug Howard.