New Good Hope Raider Band director preparing students for upcoming season


Melanie Gonzales, the new band director for the Good Hope Raider Band, stands in front of a Good Hope logo at Good Hope High School. (Hayden Hyatt for The Tribune)

GOOD HOPE – Members of the Good Hope Raider Band met Thursday for the fourth day of band camp to get ready for the upcoming football season.

Fans will be seeing a new face at band performances this year: Melanie Gonzales has taken over as band director.

Gonzales said the band has grown in more ways than one this year.

“We had nine students in color guard previously. We are now up to 16 and we have seven majorettes,” explained Gonzales. “I think we had about 70 or 80 (students last year) and now we’re at 91.”

Coming from working with bands in California to Good Hope, Gonzales is bringing some of her experience to the Raider Band.

“Obviously, coming from California, I'm going to bring a little bit of my experience out there to what we’re doing on the field. We've added working out,” Gonzales said. “So, we do a good 20 minutes of working out and the students are keeping up. I do it with them, so I don't make them do anything that I'm not personally doing.”

Gonzales explained the benefits behind the exercise.

“We do a lot of visuals out on the west coast. We do circuits there. It's intense, the competition out there. In order to be able to compete at the level the other bands are at you have to be able to have the stamina,” Gonzales shared. “The workout is part of building stamina. I don't expect anybody to be any size or anything like that; it's really about building muscle.”

The students are getting a lot out of the exercise according to Gonzales.

“The kids have been doing amazing,” said Gonzales “I thought at first it might be difficult, because I told them we’re going to work out and they were like 'Oh no,' and then every day they've been like 'Hey, I've really enjoyed that.'”

Good Hope has an exciting show planned for viewers this year.

“The name of the show is ‘Love and Music.’ We’re going to be doing a bunch of upbeat, fun music,” Gonzales said. “We're starting off with 'We Found Love' by Rihanna, then we’re going into Jersey Boys' 'Can't Take My Eyes Off You' and then the third movement is 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love;’ super fun stuff.”

Gonzales added, “It's going to be like high intensity. We have a drum feature in that movement, and also in the first movement, and we have a couple of different solos going on, and we're going to end with 'Your Love is My Drug’ by Ke$ha.”

Raider Band fans have more in store this year after football season.

“Were definitely doing our three competitions for marching season. I'm going to be adding in a jazz band this year for the kids as well,” said Gonzales. “I want to take them to competition, but also do some small ensemble stuff. We're going to add in a few little things, that (are) again from my experiences from out west. We're going to bring some of that here and see what we can do.”

Gonzales is new to Good Hope but has already had a good experience, thanks to southern hospitality and her students.

“I think the big thing is just that I'm really enjoying being here. I feel like everyone's been extremely friendly and people are very caring. It makes my job a whole lot easier,” smiled Gonzales “The students are really working hard, and working with the kids is why I do what I do. I feed off of their energy.”

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