Conducting energy: Michelle Merrill Muses Over Music, Not Gender

When Michelle Merrill was riding barrels on her quarter horse Falcon Prince at age 5, she thought she wanted to be a veterinarian or zoologist one day, maybe even a teacher.

Born in Dallas, Merrill, who speaks with uncommon speed, energy, and enthusiasm, says her family was mostly tuned into sports. She calls her father, a semi-professional football player and fireman who loved golf, a “man’s man.” Her mother was a homemaker for many years before working as a secretary for a law firm.

Merrill, though, was interested in everything. “I was always happy to be doing anything, always curious and always wanted to learn new things.”

She sang in the children’s choir at the church her family attended in their hometown of Canton, about 60 miles east of Dallas. When out trick-or-treating one day, a piano teacher gave out her business card with the candy. So, Merrill took lessons.

“I got used to being on stage as a child. I loved acting, singing … I was an outgoing introvert,” she says. “I love being around people.”

Following in a sister’s footsteps, Merrill took up the saxophone and eventually joined band. By the time she was in high school, she knew her real passion.

“We went all state in band and played for a weekend for people from all over the state. I told my parents I could do this every day.”

Who knew Merrill’s love of music would lead to her becoming associate conductor for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and a finalist for the position of music director of the Boise Philharmonic?

Read the full story here. This story was originally published at

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