Band Geeks

Two hundred teens from Burlington prepare to march at the Rose Parade, the pinnacle event for marching bands. The stakes are high and they only have one chance to get it right.
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Band Geeks


Being in a marching band can be a life changer if not a life-saver.

No matter the circumstance, it is a place where everyone belongs. It doesn’t matter what is happening in the real world; once a “bandie” enters the music centre, they are home. All is right with the world, and it’s time to get down to business.

The countdown clock is on for the Rose Parade. It is the pinnacle event for the marching band world. It’s their version of the Olympics. Many bands aspire to be selected, very few are chosen.

On January 1st in Pasadena, California, the 129th Rose Parade will take place. There will be 1 million people lining the streets to watch the parade in person. It is seen by millions more on television worldwide in more than 100 international territories and countries.

With less than 4 months to go before the parade, of the 220 current Burlington Teen Tour Band members, 60 are brand new to the band. These kids will have to be brought up to speed, learn to march, learn the field show, memorize 20 pieces of music, get conditioned and uniformed. There is a ton to do and the clock is ticking. To help defray costs of the trip, they must fundraise while at the same time juggle school, part-time jobs and family life.

marching at the Rose Parade

The Burlington Teen Tour Band on parade in California.

From now until then, everything they do is in preparation for this parade. Not only do they have to practice their music and marching skills, but need to build up stamina to march the 9km parade route. The stakes are high as these kids have a lot riding on their shoulders. They have one chance to get it right. There will be frustration and set-backs mixed with joy and excitement as they prep for one of the biggest parades in their marching career.

These kids wear their red band jackets with pride. “Band Geeks” have the potential to be targets for taunting, but these kids have 220 “bandies” through thick and thin, who will always have their back no matter what. Lifelong friendships are made, and only a "Band Geek" knows how special it really is to be part of something so big.

Told from their point of view, in their own words, heartfelt moments capture these teenagers try to balance the emotional and physical pressures of being world-class performers with home, school, and work life. The characters' personal stories will be the primary story, and the trajectory of the marching band on its way to the Rose Parade, secondary.

Web Exta: I'm a band geek!

Over the years, the Managing Director has had kids come to him in confidence disclosing all sorts of very private issues from depression to sexual orientation. There are also kids who come from broken homes (with messy divorces underway) and some from low-income families that are subsidized by the Band. It’s not all about escaping divorce and struggle; some are just there for the love of music and fun.

The Burlington Teen Tour Band is a safe-haven where kids can confidently be themselves and challenge themselves to be the best they can be. It, not just a marching band, it’s a big family.


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Band Geeks