30. December 2012 · 6 comments · Categories: 2012 · Tags:

Arthur Bartner USC Band Director

HT to Papa Dools for this one from this weekend’s WSJ.  It’s a piece on Michigan grad Arthur Bartner (left) who’s commanded the USC marching band since 1970.   Of note:

Mr. Bartner, who played football and basketball in high school in New Jersey, gave up sports to join the marching band at the University of Michigan, where he eventually earned his doctorate in music education while directing local high school bands. At Michigan, he said the band felt emotionally disconnected from the football program. So when he took the helm at USC in 1970, he took the unusual approach of trying to marry the band and the team together, modeling his program as closely as he could after the team and maximizing the interaction between them.

Hmm.  So from googling around I assume Bartner’s band tenure was in the early 1960s.   I also understand that Bo did things to create a tighter bond between the band and the football squad. 

That said, I’m curious from past or current band member—do/did you feel an emotional connection with the football team?   Do you care? 

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  1. Bo had Dr. Revelli come every year and and teach (read: rehearse, as only he could) the football team to sing the Victors properly, even after he retired from the University. I remember Bo speaking at Dr. Revelli’s funeral, telling of their first meeting, a visit from the band director to the new football coach and finding they had a lot in common- the only time I remember laughing out loud at a funeral, he was hilarious. Afterward, at the reception in Revelli Hall, the football players that were there for the summer came over and sang the Victors to the band alums. So, a connection? Absolutely!

  2. Thanks Mike, appreciate the insight

  3. That connection from the Bo/Revelli/Cavender era has survived. I was in the MMB during the Carr and RR years, and there is a close connection. I remember being thanked by a football player for our hard work and support on the campus bus once. Brandon Graham used to high-five my whole section as he ran up the tunnel after pre-game warmups while we were getting ready to hit the field. Coach Hoke came to the visitation for an MMB member who died in a car crash last year. I met Chad Henne in an airport once and his face lit up when I told him I was in the MMB.

    I can also tell you that USC band members are some of the biggest assholes on the face of the earth (the MMB has had plenty of run-ins with those cretins in Pasadena). Their leaders obviously do not hold them to any standards of professional conduct. They are the band equivalent of how USC’s football team conducts itself, minus the history of on-field excellence.

  4. Buddy Moorehouse

    Absolutely, there was a connection. I was in the band in the late 1970s (the Bo/George Cavender era). Every season, before the first game, Bo would invite the band over to the football practice field. I can still remember his speech as though it were yesterday.

    BO: (Speaking to his team) “Alright, men, everybody take a knee. I want you to listen to what you’re about to hear. You’re about to hear the BEST (expletive deleted) MARCHING BAND in the whole (expletive deleted) COUNTRY! They’re going to play the BEST (expletive deleted) FIGHT SONG EVER WRITTEN! And you need to consider yourselves ALL (expletive deleted) LUCKY! Because every time you do something GOOD on that (expletive deleted) FIELD, this band is going to play this (expletive deleted) FIGHT SONG for you!!”

  5. I think there’s a limit to how “connected” the MMB and Football team can be, but I think the football team respects and appreciates the MMB. I was in the band from 1993-1997 and felt a strong bond during the championship season of 1997. My sister was in band from 2003-2008 and I think the bond was even stronger. Gabe Watson and other members of the team would attend MMB practice and root on the band. Lamar Woodley too.

    But what shocked me about this piece was the USC angle. They are known around the country for being an AWFUL band. Their performances are mediocre at best, they carry themselves horribly unprofessionally, what leadership they have really doesn’t lead them in any way and lets the students do it, and they shell out to hollywood at every opportunity and think their s*** doesn’t stink because they happen to be on TV once and a while so they can blast Conquest with no semblance of musicality. Ask any band member from around the country what they think of USC’s band and you’ll get a similar response.

  6. I wasn’t plannning to take a swipe at the SC band, but:

    At the 1970 Rose Bowl, we were amazed that, as they went by, every member had what appeared to be an amplifier on their back! It was as if they were trying to be louder and sound worse at the same time. They were 50% succesful, sounding worse but gaining little volume. BTW, in a business meeting with a former player, his comment when he heard I was in the MMB: “you guys worked your asses off!”