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Blog interview: Carol Jarvis

Hello Carol how are you?

I’m really great thanks, how are you? I’m thrilled you said that my single had you dancing around Covent Garden! Hope it has set you up for a happy day ahead?! Knowing that has definitely made me smile!

I’m great thanks for asking! And yes, I did dance in Covent Garden, it made me smile a lot hearing it!

Congratulations on the release of In My Veins, how does it feel?

Thank you so much, it feels so good. I love that people are calling it “a banger” and also how the single is literally taking on a life of its own, travelling around the world. The most Shazams have happened in Buenos Aires… it blows my mind!

t’s an instrumental for trombone, what’s the story behind it?

Yes, I’m a professional trombonist. This is the first single off my upcoming EP and is all about hope. It marks me being ten years in remission from Hodgkins Lymphoma, an illness I battled for a decade with multiple failed treatments, therapies, transplants and clinical trials. I was repeatedly told for 5 years that I had exhausted all avenues of treatment and that I would not survive, so being in remission for 10 years I felt was a milestone worth celebrating with some uplifting music.

What was the easiest and most challenging part of putting it together?

I think it came very naturally to me, as a trombone player I play in all genres, from West End shows to pop tours to playing with the major symphony orchestras, so swapping styles is something I have always done. I decided to team up with a producer called George Holliday who I recorded something for before as I really loved his work ethic and the work he’d been doing recently. We bounce ideas off each other and I just love working with him, so there might be a steady stream of music coming out now! 

You’re a musician from Northampton, how did it all begin for you?

I was born in Northampton, but grew up in Newport Pagnell. I’ve no idea where I first saw a trombone, but I asked my Dad what the “slidey arm” thing was when I was 11 and when he brought home a cheap trombone for me to try it was like Christmas and I’ve never put it down since! I gained a Buckinghamshire County Music Scholarship, had piano lessons, and the Milton Keynes Music Service was amazing in those days – I was in orchestras, wind bands, big bands, brass bands, a brass quintet, composition classes, musicianship classes all from the very start, which I think set me up perfectly for the versatility that is needed in the music world these days. I was offered a place at all the music conservatoires up and down the country and chose to study at the Royal Northern College of Music because of the variety of options available there. I am now a trombone tutor there and often coach the horn section of the RNCM Session Orchestra for their big projects.

What did you listen to starting out? 

I think I was the rebel in our household! My parents used to mainly listen to just classical music. My older brother is a professional cellist and also used to listen to classical music at home. I listened to BBC Radio 1, and jazz! I think the first single I ever bought was Stevie Wonder I Just Called. I do love classical music as well though – that’s the joy of playing one of the most versatile musical instruments there is – I get to play in all styles.

You’ve worked with a whole host of artists and orchestras, what’s been a big pinch me moment for you?

Yes, I work as a session musician and have recorded and toured with the likes of Sting, Queen, Seal, Rod Stewart, Amy Winehouse, Taylor Swift, Michael Bublé, Harry Connick Jr, etc… I’ve been asked in the past; if I had to choose just one genre of music to play in, what would I choose. But I don’t think I could. I pinch myself whenever I play principal trombone with the likes of the London Symphony Orchestra – it is always such a thrill. But I also pinch myself when I have a gig on a helipad on a super yacht in St Tropez at the end of a long pop tour! I think touring and recording with Sting was absolutely magical as well – you could hear a pin drop. I will forever feel so grateful that I get to make a living out of my hobby.

Tell us about the international trombone association.

I have just become the first ever female President in the ITA’s 51 year history! The trombone world is mostly male, but a lot of prominent female trombonists are appearing all over the world, it is really encouraging to see. The ITA is the biggest trombone society in the world and we hold an International Trombone Festival every summer in a different location in the world. This summer we will be in Salt Lake City and it’s always the highlight of my year, every year. Over a thousand trombonists descend on the ITF every year – the concerts are incredible, but there is so much more than just performances. We have masterclasses, clinics, a huge exhibit hall, a composers workshop, international competitions, a youth workshop, presenters, lectures, recitals… if you like the trombone, it’s the place to be!

You’ve also got a podcast called In My Veins, how did that come about? 

Yes, I decided to tie all of my worlds together: music, voiceover, presenting, charity work and my journey through cancer. I wanted to speak with guests about overcoming huge challenges in their lives and how their life looks the other side of that. The first episode I tell my story, as a lot of people who know me know that I went through a battle with cancer, but not many people know the full details. I thought, if I was going to delve into other people’s lives, then I should tell my story first. I have some amazing guests lined up and there are some incredibly inspiring stories. Throughout each episode we talk about the power of music in those times of need as well. And at the end of each season I speak with an expert, and the end of the first season is an interview with a music psychologist and it is absolutely fascinating! I am loving it and I think these stories of hope will really inspire people.

COVID impacted the creative industry in a big way, what kept you motivated?

What a crazy time that was. Because of my health history I am classed as one of the vulnerable and was told by my specialists to literally not go anywhere for a long time. So I didn’t leave the house at all. Since all of the poisonous chemotherapy I went through all those years ago, I can’t produce my own antibodies in my blood, which is what keeps a person well. I infuse antibodies at home every week instead. The first three Covid vaccines had no effect on me, so even that didn’t enable me to go back to work when lockdown lifted and I had to turn down lots of work, recording sessions, tours and the trombone chair in Frozen in the West End, as it was still deemed too soon and unsafe for me. Thankfully the antibodies that I infuse now contain some covid antibodies, and I have now had seven Covid vaccines and have some protection. But all my gigs and tours got cancelled when lockdown hit. I think everyone with a home studio suddenly got really busy though, and thankfully that included me. My voiceover work especially took off. It was such a difficult time in many respects, but there were some nuggets that I loved about it as well – staying in one place for a bit, and having a slower pace of life for a while. It wasn’t long before I was back on the crazy musical merry-go-round though!

The last three years have been a time to reflect, what did you learn about yourself?

It might be strange to say, as a cancer survivor, but I think I learnt that I really am a survivor. I am very adaptable and I am glad that I have always enjoyed having lots of projects on the go because ultimately that’s how I was able to work from home. Sadly my Dad got ill during that time though (cancer), and there was a lot of lockdown where I couldn’t be with him. He always loved Christmas, and his last Christmas with us all was over zoom. We lost him towards the end of 2021, so that made me revaluate everything again.

Did you pick up any new skills?

Constantly! During lockdown I managed to run three hour long woodwind, brass, percussion and harp sectionals over zoom! How on earth did I do that? And how did I manage to fill three hours when I couldn’t hear any of them?! I did notice that anyone who was adaptable, versatile and had fingers in lots of pies were the people who thrived during Covid. There is a lot to be said of portfolio careers and how that can open so many other doors.

What are you listening to at the moment?

At the moment I love discovering new talent and new music. When I released this first single, I was selected as BBC Introducing’s One To Watch in Beds, Herts, Bucks which has led me to follow lots more BBC Introducing artists on Instagram and delve into lots of new music. It’s fascinating and I love it! But when I open Spotify at the start of a car journey, I can never decide what to press play on!

What’s your favourite piece to play on trombone?

‘In My Veins’ of course! You can even watch me playing it here.

Which trombones do you use?

I am a Rath Trombones endorsed artist. Michael Rath is the only UK trombone maker, so I think it’s nice to be able to support that and help to promote these incredible instruments all over the world. My earliest model (R1) I bought in 1996 when Michael Rath first started making trombones, and it’s still my favourite out of all of the trombones I own. 

What are you looking forward to doing next?

I am looking forward to releasing my next single and my EP coming up, and continuing with my podcast. I feel so very lucky to have secured some pretty famous guests on the podcast. And it’s looking like I will have a remix EP coming up, and I have enough tracks for another EP next year too. After playing on so many albums, singles, soundtracks and library music albums for other people and other artists for years and years, it is so fun to be releasing my own music!


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