From learner to leader


Peyton Kuschmeder

Steven Solis-Welch directs the band during the halftime show at the football game Sep. 2. Solis-Welch had a marching spot last year as a freshman, but had to give that up to direct.

The trumpets blare and the drums boom; the brass instruments reflect the stadium lights as the band marches across the field in neat rows. Color guard’s flags twirl in the background, making graceful streaks of art across the field. As the beautiful melodies travel through the air, young Steven Solis Welch watched, knowing he would be a part of that symphony one day.

From then, he proceeded to join his middle school’s band and continued to participate in high school, where he found himself living his dream of being in marching band. However, he did not expect to find himself where he is today as a sophomore. 

In just one year, Solis Welch went from being a nervous freshman in band to the first male drum major in five years and one of the only sophomore drum majors Hebron has ever seen.

“Last year, it was a lot of learning,” Solis Welch said. “It kind of caught me off guard [because I was a] scared little freshman having to learn everything. It was a great year and everything, but this year I’m getting [a] behind-the-scenes point of view [while] I’m still learning.”

Sophomore Noorain Aziz said Solis Welch is loved by the whole band. Not only does his leadership role as drum major impact the band, she said, but his personality plays a huge role in making him well-perceived.

“He’s so lively,” Aziz said. “He’s not only good at bringing energy, but reciprocating it. He’s very good at connecting to people and earning respect that way, which is why a lot of the band already loves him and has a lot of respect for him, even though he is a sophomore.”

Assistant band director Brock Alsaffar said Solis Welch was very prepared for his audition, applied feedback well and was natural, which is part of the reason they decided to choose him as drum major. 

“I saw that he was teachable and he was able to apply the things we were giving him,” Alsaffar said. “That’s when I [knew he] would be a definite option.”

Being a drum major comes with challenges and obstacles. It can be stressful to lead an entire band, especially while so young.

“The band doesn’t know what you do,” Solis Welch said. “We [work] with the directors; they’re always giving us things to do. We have to do [attendance] and inventory. When the band is learning their music, we’re also learning the music, but we have to act like we know it perfectly, even if we don’t have any idea what we’re doing. We’re running rehearsal, doing the metronome and all this stuff.”

The last time the band program had a male drum major was in 2017. This year, Solis Welch changed that.

“I think it’s been a good thing for students to see strong female leaders on the podium,” Alsaffar said. “It just so happened that Steven got the role; I personally didn’t even know this was the first time in [five years] a male was a drum major at Hebron. To me, that was shocking.”

Though sophomores can be considered ‘less experienced,’ Solis Welch is the exact opposite. He already had a marching spot as a freshman, which is rare in itself. Being a sophomore in the highest student leadership role is far more rare.  

“[His position] shows the band that you can achieve high goals no matter what age,” Alsaffar said. “Seeing that Steven was able to accomplish that goal shows that no matter how old you are, as long as you put in the work, effort and time, you can achieve anything you want to achieve.” 

Solis Welch has only been a part of the Hebron band for two years. In that short amount of time, he went from being an anxious learner to leading the entire band. He has the opportunity to continue his leadership role throughout the upcoming two years as a junior and a senior. 

“I really look up to him,” Aziz said. “I’m very proud of everything he’s done, how he’s carried himself through the whole process and how he continues to carry himself.”



*(Editors’ Note: A previous version of this story stated that 2015 was the last time a male was a drum major at Hebron. This story has since been corrected; the last male drum major was in 2017.)