Percussion ensemble travels to PASIC convention to give concert, accept national award

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By Kristen Shepard
Editor in Chief

The long hot hours of practice, the late nights spent at the band hall and the persistent mental strain of mastering new pieces put forth by the Coppell High School percussion ensemble was not left unrewarded.

Named one of the premiere percussion programs in the country, the Coppell High School band recently traveled to Indianapolis, Ind. to perform at the prestigious Percussive Arts Society International Convention, or PASIC.

High school bands are given the option to submit a tape sampling their music to the PASIC panel of judges, and are pitted against the top schools in the nation. This year, the CHS percussion ensemble was awarded the prestigious honor of 1st place, and was invited to perform a special concert at the nation’s premiere percussion convention.

PASIC is a yearly convention held in various cities around the U.S. Historically, the convention attracts around 6,000 visitors and is in its 38th year. The top organization for percussionists, PASIC as an organization has over 7,000 members through over 50 chapters.

The ensemble, accompanied by Director of Bands Scott Mason, traveled to Indianapolis on Wednesday Nov. 13.

The ensemble began as one of the best performances the ensemble had ever done, but then the unimaginable happened. In the middle of their concert: the lights went off.

“When the lights went off, the students could not see their music or their instruments,” Mason said. “But they kept playing without stopping and did not miss a single note. It was incredible to experience. They were so focused on playing, they did not even seem to notice.”

Followed by a roar of applause, the ensemble completed their concert and left the convention with a memory they will cherish forever.

Aside from winning such a prestigious award, the invitation to PASIC gave the CHS percussionists a chance to meet and listen to some of the top drummers and marimba players in the world. From these professionals, the percussion ensemble left inspired and awestruck.

“The minute that their clinics finished, I just felt the urge to practice more,” senior drum captain and percussion section leader Terrence Yi said. “One of the best drummers in the world, Dave Weckl, performed and amazing concert at the end of the convention. Every note influenced me.”

Traveling to PASIC as a winner is a once in a lifetime experience. Once a school is selected as the top percussion ensemble, they must undergo a four year waiting period until they are eligible to win a second time. For Coppell, this is an upstanding achievement, as the CHS band has not received this award in 13 years.

“Every member practices for about two hours a day,” Mason said.  “With school and hard classes and band, all these students have time to do is go home, eat, do homework and sleep. They work extremely hard.”

The percussion has a history of achieving in multiple areas, with members ranking at the top of their classes and dedicated to various other organizations. It is almost as if over-achieving comes naturally to the members of the percussion ensemble.

“It was awesome to watch the percussion ensemble win this award. They will get to listen to and meet their idols, some of the top drummers in the world,” head drum major Garrett Holmes said.  “Every time we would end rehearsal in the summer, the percussionists would stay after morning practice until mid-afternoon and rehearse for PASIC and come back for the night rehearsals. They are definitely hard workers.”

This year’s percussion ensemble includes Conner Anderson, Collin Anderson, John Bishop, Claire Brown, Joe Carroll, Alex Copple, Mehul Gore, Sammy Hand, Mikki Hoffman, Sarah Hyden, Spencer Johnson, Alex Johnson, Ethan Judd, Taeeun Kim, Brady Knippa, Chris Overcash, Sydney Owens, Matthew Pyankov, Maanas Saythe, Matthew Thomas, Lauren Villanueva, Terrence Yi and Kevin Yuan. The percussion department is led by Director of Percussion Zach Scheer and Assistant Percussion Director David Marchuk.