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The Mind Over Finger Podcast

Nov 9, 2018

In this episode, Paul Merkelo, principal trumpet with the Montreal Symphony, active soloist, pedagogue, and philanthropist, talks about how, as musicians, we need to take ownership of our careers, nurture opportunities, focus on developing out artistry and our voice, and have a “quality over quantity” approach to practicing.

Paul offers amazing insight, great practicing tips, and extremely valuable advice on how to take your playing and career to the next level.

He elaborates on:

  • His experience as principal trumpet of the New Orleans Symphony
  • How the orchestra’s bankruptcy prompted his first ventures in the self-marketing world and opened the door for his entrepreneurial spirit
  • How social media can help promote artists, if done the right way and if one is offering high value
  • How, as musicians, we need to take ownership of our careers, nurture opportunies, and put together our own projects
  • The way he sees himself as an artist and why the different projects he pursues keep him energized and inspired
  • How he advises young artists to not just focus on their careers, but to focus on their artistry, their personality, and their voice
  • How we need to be proactive for our dream ideas to come to life – his own example of how he made a solo recording with the Montreal Symphony happen
  • How a “quality over quantity” approach to practicing is crucial
  • How he uses a timer to stay focused and organized in the practice room
  • How he selects his fundamental work to fit the needs of the repertoire he is working on
  • How he shapes a practice session/day
  • How he uses “PSP” when doing isolation work: 1) Precision 2) Speed  3) Power
  • How we need to “practice our nerves”



Paul Merkelo’s website

Paul’s YouTube channel

Facebook page

Instagram profile

Montreal Symphony Orchestra

Paul’s recordings


Tunable app

The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How.  by Daniel Coyle


Renowned as one of the finest trumpet players of his generation, Paul Merkelo is recognized for his ’pure technical prowess’’ (Rochester Democrat & Chronicle) as well as his ‘’unusual lyrical gifts’’ (Gramophone). Principal trumpet with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal since 1995, Mr. Merkelo is regularly praised by the Montreal press as ‘’a spectacular soloist… a most impressive master of his instrument’’ (Montreal Gazette), a “great virtuoso… dazzling’’ (La Presse). He has been featured frequently with the OSM, including tours to South America and Lincoln Center in New York.

He has been featured with orchestras, and in recital, throughout the United States, Canada, Russia, China, Japan, Portugal, Brazil, Venezuela, Peru, France and Thailand.

He has been featured with orchestras, and in recital, throughout the United States, Canada, Russia, China, Japan, Portugal, Brazil, Venezuela, Peru, France and Thailand.

In 1999, he was appointed Canadian musical ambassador to China for the inauguration of the Montreal Park in Shanghai, and as soloist with the Shanghai Broadcast Orchestra in a national telecast. Mr. Merkelo made his New York debut at Lincoln Center with the New World Symphony Orchestra and Michael Tilson Thomas in 1998. He has also worked with conductors Leonard Bernstein, Charles Dutoit, Lorin Maazel, Sir Georg Solti and Valery Gergiev.

Mr. Merkelo’s first solo recording, A Simple Song was ranked #1 in Quebec’s classical recording chart in 2000. In 2004, Analekta released a highly praised second CD, Baroque Transcriptions, which was nominated by ADISQ for Best Classical Album of the Year.

Previously, he was Principal Trumpet with the Rochester Philharmonic and New Orleans Symphony and gained early orchestral experience as an extra with the New York Philharmonic and Pittsburgh Symphony.

Paul Merkelo attended the University of Illinois and Eastman School of music, where he was awarded the Speth Scholarship for outstanding orchestral musician. Mr. Merkelo is on the faculty at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, and McGill University. He is on the board of directors for the Youth Orchestra of the Americas (Canada), and is the founder of the Paul Merkelo scholarship.

Paul Merkelo is a Yamaha artist.


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Most sincere thank you to composer Jim Stephenson who graciously provided the show’s musical theme!  Concerto #1 for Trumpet and Chamber Orchestra – Movement 2: Allegro con Brio, performed by Jeffrey Work, trumpet, and the Lake Forest Symphony, conducted by Jim Stephenson.

Also a huge thank you to my producer, Bella Kelly!




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