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A Musical Life

A Musical Life: Beau Jarvis

Courtesy photo


Beau Thomas Jarvis holds an undergraduate degree from Friends University and a masters degree in Musicology from Wichita State University. He spent several years living and playing in Los Angeles before returning to his home base in Wichita. He has performed with Jean-Michael Byron (Toto), Doug Grean (Scott Wieland), The Lettermen, Benny Golson and Tim Orindgreff (Black Eyed Peas), among others. He currently teaches jazz piano, jazz combo, jazz big band, and aesthetics through music at Friends University and he plays with various musicians in the Wichita area.

My name is Beau Jarvis and I play multiple instruments.

I think I started in church, playing clave because I wanted to be a drummer and this is, like, when I was two years old.

My mom and dad are musicians and my dad always played piano so I gravitated toward that eventually. There were those wonderful evenings at the piano bawling because I had to practice and hated it. But my parents said, “You’ve gotta learn the notes before you can have drums.” And I still haven’t had a drum set to this day.

I did learn how to play drums and I guess what that means is that I really love rhythm and, fortunately, piano is a rhythm section instrument. There’s hammers and so forth in that thing, so you can use it as a rhythmic instrument as well as other uses, more beautiful maybe.

Most of the music expression that I’ve done has been without lyrics, without vocals. There’s kind of a divisive line there, you know?  Lyrics, if done right, are some of the greatest things ever. But then there’s also that aspect in music that’s so great because it doesn’t say anything specific. I might hint at things.  We all have sort of an accepted language at least in the west of… minors, dark keys are kind of accepted as… especially after Spinal Tap as being unhappy and sad. ‘D minor is the saddest of all keys,’ and so forth.

So, there’s this tradition of expression through music without lyrics that we all sort of get but at the same time it’s not set in stone. So, I think the ambiguity and the openness of that are really where it’s at for me.

So, I guess in some ways, that absolute music is kind of where I’m coming from.