LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Dr. Arthur C. Bartner is a living legend on the USC Campus, leading the Trojan Marching Band as director for the last 50 seasons. Bartner announced he will be stepping down at the end of next season.
“I’m always positive,” Bartner said. “I guess I’m a motivator, and this is just who I am.”
Bartner’s unmistakable voice has resonated across the campus as he transformed what was once an afterthought into one of the world’s most recognized marching bands.
“In 1970, the band was just scary, scary in a negative way,” he said.
Bartner, along with assistant coach Marv Goux, restructured the band.
“He put his arm around me and said, ‘Here’s what this band needs,'” Bartner said. “‘You need to teach this band like it’s a sports team,’ and Marv was this tough marine screaming and hollering. Now, I’m not a tough marine, but I’m a screamer and hollerer.
“And I run the band. It’s a very physical band. They’re yelling all the time, they’re running back, they’re playing all the time. I’m very demanding on them and it’s all from this football coach background.”
Along with an increase in discipline, Bartner made an even simpler change to improve the band’s performance.
“If the students like the music, they’ll play better,” Bartner said. “If the students like the show, they’ll march better. So I kind of picked up what are the students listening to, what movies are they going to?”
Bartner said the students are currently working on a Marvel show, something he has very little familiarity with, but that the students enjoy because they have seen all the films.
“They’re educating me today,” Bartner said. “So that’s what I wanted.”
Today’s game against rival UCLA will be his 414th straight game over the last 31 years.
“When I took the job in 1970, who thought that this career would be what it is,” he said. “So, when I look back, I’m very fortunate and very grateful.”
Bartner has created a world-renowned marching band, but the organization still must generate 75% of its operating funds from donations. Those who wish to contribute can do so online.