We are thrilled to have had the chance to interview Carol Jantsch, tuba! Carol is an incredible musician and, as her interview responses make clear, she is also a thoughtful, engaging person (with an astonishing number of projects going on)! Thanks to Carol for making the time to respond to these questions.
Praised by the Philadelphia Inquirer as having “a sound as clear and sure as it [is] luxurious,” Carol Jantsch has been principal tuba of The Philadelphia Orchestra since 2006. She won the position during her senior year at the University of Michigan, becoming the first female tuba player in a major symphony orchestra. In addition to her duties in the Philadelphia Orchestra, Ms. Jantsch is a renowned tuba soloist. She also teaches masterclasses internationally and is on the faculty at the Yale University School of Music and Temple University’s Boyer College of Music. See the end of this post for her full-length bio.
Brass Chicks: From ultimate frisbee to tuba throwing, marathon running to yoga, you have tried a broad variety of forms of exercise over the course of your professional tuba career. How have different kinds of athletic activity influenced or related to the way you play?
Carol Jantsch: Listing them all like that makes me seem a bit like a crazy person, which may in fact be the case—although I go rock climbing more often than tuba throwing these days! Playing any instrument is a physical endeavor, so staying generally active and healthy helps with ease of playing and longevity. Yoga has probably been the most applicable to brass playing for me, in that it teaches a higher level of bodily awareness and more specific muscle control.
BC: Do you think we have a specific role or responsibility as female brass players? How do you incorporate that (or not) into your own life as a musician and teacher?
CJ: I just try to be a good role model by always working to get better at the tuba and trying to be a good citizen of my orchestra and my community. I’m starting to see myself more as a tuba ambassador, introducing people to my instrument and how fun it is. This is reflected in my side projects, including my cover band Tubular, and my non-profit set to launch this fall called Tubas For Good, which will provide instruments, instruction, performances, and community events to the Philly area and beyond.
BC: Do you see any specific challenges for musicians in today’s climate? How do you mitigate those on your own and for your students?
CJ: I think the music industry in general was late to embrace the internet age, and that has made it more difficult for artists to monetize their products—recordings are more like marketing tools nowadays rather than sources of revenue. I don’t pretend to have any solutions to this problem, but I do think that our generation has the responsibility to advocate for live music in general.
BC: A few years back, you suffered a gruesome injury when a surfboard hit you in the face. Can you tell us a bit about that experience and your process of recovery? What worked, what didn’t work, and how did you handle being unable to play for a while?
CJ: It sucked, but in hindsight, I’m definitely better off for having gone through it.
I think my recovery process was pretty typical of most playing injuries in that I got really depressed and tried to come back well before I should have. My teeth tore a big hole through my bottom lip, but I played in PO concerts only three weeks later, albeit just for a violin concerto—Petrushka wasn’t until two weeks after that. (!) There were hard lessons in patience and humility for sure, and I basically had to rebuild my technique from scratch, this time with a lump of scar tissue in my lip. But this was also an opportunity to build it better, so even though there were many disheartening and frustrating moments, I kept at it, and tried to be smart about it. I started learning more and more about relevant subjects: anatomy, physiology, psychology, and the physics and of brass playing. Now I’m in a place where I’m much more aware of what I’m doing while I’m playing, I can control it better, and I can troubleshoot better in the practice room. I’m a better player and teacher, not despite the injury, but because of it. My super-high range still isn’t what it used to be, but maybe I’ll be able to figure that out someday too…
If you’re dealing with a playing-related injury, I think it’s helpful to remind yourself of the long game. Injured or not, we musicians are always striving to improve our craft, and in essence that means re-learning how to do the same things more and more efficiently over the rest of your life. An injury just forces the issue a little faster than you may have otherwise had to deal with it.
BC: As a principal player in a major orchestra, teacher at the university level, soloist, and tuba cover band arranger/performer, you have a diverse range of professional responsibilities. How do your different professional pursuits influence one another? How do you handle commuting and balancing a wide array of tasks?
I like wearing a lot of different hats, and I think each avenue enhances the others. Playing in the Philadelphia Orchestra is a great joy and privilege; it has made me into the musician I am, and I continue to learn from and be inspired by my colleagues every day. Teaching forces me to clarify my ideas on playing, and my students keep me on my toes. Solos and chamber music give me opportunities for very different and stimulating performing experiences, and arranging has become a very fulfilling outlet for me in recent years. I really enjoy the process of identifying what exactly gives a piece of music its essence, and then translating that as effectively as possible given the constraints of the new ensemble—it’s like solving a puzzle where you get something fun to play when it’s finished!
Each element is satisfying in its own way, and while it’s a lot to keep up with, the diversity of my career activities keeps me working and creating in fun and interesting ways.
Do you have any resources (books, podcasts, recordings that changed your life, or similar) you would like to recommend?
CJ: I love reading! Here’s the list of books I recommend to my students:
Dale Carnegie – How to Win Friends and Influence People
Chris Berdik – Mind Over Mind: The Surprising Power of Expectations
Victor Wooten – The Music Lesson
Daniel Coyle – The Talent Code
W. Timothy Gallwey – The Inner Game of Tennis
Sian Beilock – Choke
Ryan Holiday – Ego Is The Enemy
Praised by the Philadelphia Inquirer as having “a sound as clear and sure as it [is] luxurious,” Carol Jantsch has been principal tuba of The Philadelphia Orchestra since 2006. She won the position during her senior year at the University of Michigan, becoming the first female tuba player in a major symphony orchestra.
In addition to her duties in the Philadelphia Orchestra, Ms. Jantsch is a renowned tuba soloist. She gives solo recitals regularly, and has appeared as a concerto soloist with various ensembles, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Columbus Symphony, the St. Petersburg Symphony in Russia, the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra, and the United States Marine Band. She has performed in Carnegie’s Zankel Hall with the Musical Olympus Festival, and has appeared on the radio on NPR’s series From the Top and Interlochen Public Radio’s Live From Studio A. In 2009 she was honored with a “Best of Philly” award from Philadelphia magazine. She has also won prizes in several international solo tuba competitions, and alumni awards from both Interlochen Arts Academy and the University of Michigan.
Ms. Jantsch is in increasing demand as a teacher worldwide, having given master classes in Europe, Asia, and North America. She enjoys working with young musicians, and has been a featured artist at various brass festivals in Finland, Germany, Canada, and the United States. She is on the faculty at the Yale University School of Music and Temple University’s Boyer College of Music. Raised in a musical family, Ms. Jantsch began piano lessons at age six and began studying euphonium at Interlochen Arts Camp at age nine. After switching to tuba, she attended the prestigious arts boarding high school Interlochen Arts Academy, graduating as salutatorian of her class. She continued her studies at the University of Michigan under the tutelage of Fritz Kaenzig. After winning her position with The Philadelphia Orchestra in February of 2006, she returned to Michigan to complete her Bachelor of Music degree, graduating with highest honors.
Ms. Jantsch can be heard on numerous Philadelphia Orchestra recordings, including the 2010 release of Ewald Quintets no. 1 and 3 with fellow Philadelphia Orchestra principal brass. She released her first solo recording, Cascades, in 2009. In 2013 she premiered Reflections on the Mississippi, a new tuba concerto written for her and the Temple University Symphony Orchestra by Grammy Award-winning composer Michael Daugherty. The recording of this work was recently released on the Temple University label, and in 2015 she performed the concerto with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Albany Symphony Orchestra, and the University of Michigan Symphony Band.
Carol is a Yamaha Performing Artist. She plays a Yamaha YFB-822 F tuba and a B&S Perantucci PT-6PS CC tuba.