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An Interview with Carol Jarvis

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Not only are “ChopSaver Users Just Plain Cool,” many of them are inspiring beyond words! 

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Carol Jarvis (http://www.caroljarvis.com/) is a virtuoso trombone player based in the UK and has toured and recorded extensively with stars such as Seal and Sting but can also be found working with internationally renowned ensembles such as the London Symphony Orchestra, doing regular session work and performing in London’s West End shows. Carol Jarvis is a much in-demand freelance trombonist, keyboard player, arranger, orchestrator and backing vocalist, who works in all fields of the profession. And she has done all of this while fighting (and winning!) her battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. 

DG – When did you first think you might want to be a professional musician?

Carol – I began getting professional work at the age of 16. Strange as it may seem, but it was always only a hobby of mine. I almost went into acting after school, but realized I would regret putting down my music and getting out of practice, so I went to study music instead. I only began taking it seriously once I was in my 3rd year, around the age of 20, when I suddenly realized my diary was full and I was making a living out of it! That’s when I realized I should start practicing!

DG – What do you see yourself doing 5 years from now?

Carol – I honestly don’t know. I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma nine years ago and I have only just got through it. I think I have been living on automatic pilot this past decade and just taking a day at a time, so only recently I am starting to learn to look to the future. My prognosis has always been so bad that I never thought I had a future, so now I am trying to adapt. I hope I will still be making a nice living from music. And I’m pleased that over many years of having the disease, I’ve managed to tie-in music and cancer and I’m now doing a lot of charity work for lots of different cancer charities. http://www.caroljarvis.com/about-carol-jarvis/charity-work/

DG – You travel and perform a lot – do you have a workout regimen?

Carol – I was always extremely sporty at school. Sadly, I had no time during my years at Music College, and it was only a couple of years after I graduated that I was diagnosed with cancer. At the time I was training for a 10K run, but my hospital specialists told me to pull out as the primary chemo I started on was debilitating. Sadly, I’ve not had the energy to properly workout since, and my specialists say it will be a while until I am ready. I have an extremely fast metabolism which keeps me slim, but it’s hard to keep up with a lot of the time. Often I have to have energy drinks or snacks with me during rehearsals or even sneakily on stage in gigs!

DG – Your job looks very glamorous and exciting – tell us about the not-so glamorous side of it!

Carol – It’s all glamorous! I don’t know what you mean?! 😉 I guess the not-so glamorous side of it all is how tiring it can get. Travelling can be grueling. One of my touring schedules included three different continents for three gigs all in three days! It’s when your body has to change time zone frequently when it gets difficult. That’s when you really need to look after yourself. Drink plenty of water, try to eat well and sleep whenever you get the chance. I have always found it easy to sleep in different places; on planes, tour buses, hotels, middle of the day, etc, but forever find it hard to sleep in my own bed at home! As for the glamorous side of it all – it’s the most fun you could imagine!

Carol performing with Seal (photo by Steve Huff)
Carol performing with Seal (photo by Steve Huff)

DG – What is your favorite/coolest venue you have ever played in?

Carol – I think every musician has favourite concert halls around the world: I’m very proud of the venues we have here in the UK: London’s Royal Albert Hall, Birmingham Symphony Hall, Manchester Bridgewater Hall, but there are other stunning venues around the world; Vienna Musikverein, Vienna Konzerthaus, Carnegie Hall in New York, Sydney Opera House etc. But I think when you’ve toured the world so much, the cool ones can end up being the slightly different venues too; I’ve had gigs down in mines, in submarines, on the top of mountains, etc, which really stick in my memory.

DG – What sort of things do you want to do that you haven’t had the opportunity to do yet?

Carol – I’m not sure I have many musical things I want to do still. That’s not to say that I am ready to retire! I want to just continue doing everything I am doing now. I’ve had huge opportunities and amazing experiences with stars all over the world. The kind of things I haven’t done yet that I would like to do include stupid things like doing a parachute jump! I guess I am going through a “glad to be alive” moment in my life, now that I have finally got to remission for the first time in a decade, and need to go and be a bit mad!

DG – For the trombone and other brass players out there, what is a typical practice session like?

Carol – I always begin with buzzing exercises (on the mouthpiece). I have never found buzzing lips separate to the mouthpiece to help at all… for me, they don’t relate, but for some people it works (it’s very individual). Then slow simple lip slurs, slowly extending to wider slurs and faster (lots of varying patterns). Then some tonguing exercises, and onto some sight reading/studies and onto repertoire, which can vary from orchestral excerpts to solo rep, to chamber music, to pop/session/jazz/improvisation, depending what I have coming up in the diary.

DG – Who is the most influential musician you have studied or worked with?

Carol – Studied with: Joe Alessi (Principal Trombone of the New York Philharmonic) Worked with: Sting and Queen

DG – Who is the most influential musician you have NOT had the chance to study/work with.

Carol – I wish I could get in a time machine and go back in time to study/work with the likes of Mozart, Brahms, Stravinsky and Mahler.

DG – How does one get a job such as playing with a major act like Sting or Seal and some of the others you have worked with?

Carol – I often get asked this. There are unfortunately no short cuts. For me it was who I got to know through the work I was doing at the time, and gigs lead onto other gigs. You never know where the work is going to come from, so you should treat people how you would want to be treated. If you have a good reputation and you’re nice to be around, then work will hopefully always follow. I think I have been extremely lucky, and just hope it all continues.

DG – Thank you Carol, for your candid and inspirational words!