Welch forms Orchestra Council

Jon Welch, the orchestra conductor at West, creates the Orchestra Council, a student led group that helps with some of the responsibilities of the orchestra.

You’ve probably heard of student council, but have you heard of Orchestra Council? The West High Orchestra Council was created to provide an opportunity for the members of the orchestra to get involved in improving their ensemble. The council is made up of committees which each have their own specific purpose within orchestra. Welch got the idea from his old high school orchestra in Cincinnati.

“The first time I ever [was in charge of a council] was well over 10 years ago, in a land far, far away in Cincinnati. My orchestra there, we just always had [an Orchestra Council] and my predecessor there had one and I tweaked it to be something that I thought would work with me,” Welch said.

I’m trying to make it so that everybody just has input in that while we’re learning… [and] that we just share the same vision of what we want the orchestra to be”

— Jon Welch

When Welch moved to Iowa he kept the idea in his head, but didn’t act on it until this year.

“I created the Orchestra Council because I’m trying to build student leadership through the orchestra. And so that I can get some feedback from students on the climate of the student body and tried to just share the ownership of the group … I’m trying to make it so that everybody just has input in that while we’re learning… [and] that we just share the same vision of what we want the orchestra to be,” Welch explained.

Welch created each of the committees: the Publicity Committee, Social Committee, Library Committee, and the Orchestra Managers Committees, based on what he thought was necessary in an orchestra.

The Publicity Committee was created to publicize the orchestra and help recruit junior high students to continue participating in high school orchestra.

“We need students to go out and just kind of spread the word about the group to the community and to our younger orchestras. [We need] to get everybody excited for and … involved with the West High Orchestras,” Welch said.

The members of the Publicity Committee have also taken over the orchestra’s social media platforms.

“We’re mainly talking about the social media platform of West High Orchestras and how we can grow our following both between like seniors and … younger junior high kids,” said Perry Heredia ‘21. Heredia is a member of the Publicity and the Library Committees. She joined the Publicity Committee because of her love of graphic design, and the Publicity Committee creates posters to help promote the concerts.

Welch thought that it would be best for the students to use social media instead of him.

“Anytime that I take over social media, or I do things, I’m going to be the boring old guy who does it. I know that students and teenagers are way better at that stuff,” Welch said.

The Social Committee is in charge of social events for the orchestras.

“I wanted to see … the students coming up with different ideas for ways that we can get to know each other. Ways that we can celebrate accomplishments in the orchestra or birthdays or just other things.” Welch said.

“It can be a little bit daunting every day, if I’m just conducting and giving instructions,” Welch explained. “What I’ve noticed directing orchestras through the years is … I get to spend a lot of time with the students that are going to All-State or that are in pit orchestra and that are going above and beyond. But there are some students who go above and beyond and other areas. And it’s important for me to know what everybody’s interested in.”

The Library Committee was created to help Welch go through the music library and to figure out what music to play, and the Orchestra Managers Committee is essentially the set up crew for concerts. They transport stands, instruments and anything else that’s needed.

There are people that just have all sorts of different skills. So this is a way to open up different opportunities for a variety of students to come in and just add their strengths and be able to just make the orchestra better.”

— Jon Welch

“There are people that just have all sorts of different skills. So this is a way to open up different opportunities for a variety of students to come in and just add their strengths and be able to just make the orchestra better,” Welch said.

The Orchestra Council members were elected or appointed on Sept. 7 so they haven’t had much time to work on anything yet. However, they’ve created group chats and Google Docs where all of the members of the committees can communicate and work on their tasks together.

“[The group chats are] cool because I can just check in every now and again and see how everybody’s working with each other,” Welch said. “What’s different now than 10 years ago, is that we have the ability to be in communication with each other … and I’m able to see how you all use media and how you all use the different platforms that we have available to us to build something.”

Welch has been satisfied with the way the council has started. He plans to continue it in the years to come and make it a tradition.