Riverside’s Marching Tigers

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By Janelle Burmaster


By Janelle Burmaster

“Marching band is for nerds and geeks, too unpopular and untalented to do something worthwhile with their time.”

Was that something you thought at one time in your high school career? Well, it’s time to think again.

The Riverside Community College Marching Tigers not only work just as hard, if not harder than your average jock, they are some of the most talented people you’ll ever meet on campus.

Putting in 12 to 18 hour days during the marching season, just in learning their drill routine, they must also find practice time on top of that to learn their music and perfect their instrumentation. Then there are the shows they perform in and the movies they star in. The Marching Tigers have most sports teams beat.

The RCC Marching Tigers celebrated their 20th Anniversary last year. Some members, including current drum major Jared Buckley, have spent half that time with the band.

Over 3,000 people have come and gone through the program and have spent countless hours practicing, sacrificing their time to be a part of something special.

And something special it is. I had the privilege of sitting front row center for their recent exhibition performance at the Big Orange Classic marching band competition held at RCC on Nov. 6.

The announcer rattled off all of its accomplishments over the years, including appearances in “My Blue Heaven,” “Austin Powers,” “The Truman Show,” “American Pie 2,” and over a dozen television shows including “Charmed” and “Gilmore Girls.”

It’s been featured in over five commercials and three music videos. It is the only band to have headlined all major holiday parades including Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Hollywood Christmas Parade, and the Tournament of Roses.

It is the official band of Riverside County, but it doesn’t stop there. It has performed in over 10 countries, at every Disney theme park in the world and for dozens of football halftime shows. And this is only a handful of its accomplishments.

Sitting in the cold waiting through the high school bands whose members might look forward to performing with the Marching Tigers after graduating, the anticipation was slowly and steadily building through the crowd.

At 9:45 p.m. the Tigers took the field with a Spanish style show entitled, “Sketches of Spain.” It was an exhilarating eight minutes.

Trumpet, trombone, and drum solos were featured throughout. The colorguard, Fantasia, added bursts of red, purple, orange and yellow color in their dance routine, and the drill was choreographed perfectly to the last detail.

A show like this doesn’t happen overnight. It takes weeks, sometimes months of practice. Those 12 hour days happen three to four times a week, after an initial three-week band camp.

That’s right, band camp. But don’t let those “American Pie” stories fool you, real band camp is three grueling weeks, 10 hours a day, five, sometimes six days a week where music and drill are learned during the most intense heat of the year.

Band camp includes an extensive work out as well, sprints, push ups, whatever it takes to get their lungs working to capacity to perform during the year. Band camp alone could put some football teams to shame.

In the end, it’s all worth it to have a magical performance that leaves the people in the stands cheering you on, a rush of adrenaline like nothing else streaming through your veins.

The RCC Marching Tigers likes to keep their plate full aside from just performing. As in years past, it is making a name for the band and for RCC by participating in the new film, “American Pie 4: Band Camp,” scheduled to release next fall.

Beginning in January, the Tigers are also preparing for a trip to Madrid, Spain and London, England this winter where they will perform in the London New Year’s Day Parade and Festival.

While its school performances are just about done, you can catch all the talented men and women of the Marching Tigers one last time this year before they leave for Spain on Dec. 26, at the Riverside Convention Center at 7 p.m.

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