Tao drumming to All-State four years in a row

Coppell+High+School+senior+Andrew+Tao+practices+the+marimba+during+a+private+lesson+in+the+fine+arts+hallway+on+Jan.+23.+Tao+is+a+percussionist+with+the+CHS+band+who+has+qualified+to+All-State+for+all+four+years+of+high+school.+

Trisha Atluri

Coppell High School senior Andrew Tao practices the marimba during a private lesson in the fine arts hallway on Jan. 23. Tao is a percussionist with the CHS band who has qualified to All-State for all four years of high school.

Anika Arutla , Social Media Manager

Out of the 60 years Coppell ISD has existed , only three students have made All-State Band all four years of their high school career. This year, Coppell High School senior Andrew Tao became the third in the legacy.

Tao is also the first percussionist from Coppell to make All-State all four years. He started playing seven years ago and officially joined percussion at the end of fifth grade. 

Since then, Tao has put all of his free time into improving his percussionist skills. He spends at least a couple of hours every day practicing, making him an inspiration for younger students. 

“[Younger students] see how hard he works,” CHS band director Gerard Miller said. “The advantage of what we do here is, especially with percussion, you kind of have to practice here because you don’t own all of those instruments at home. As a result, most of his practice is done here in front of his peers. They see him after school, staying here until seven, eight, nine o’clock at night. They know the dedication it takes to be at that level. They have a tremendous amount of respect for him because they know he sacrifices in other areas.” 

This achievement can be attributed to hard work, but it mostly depends on consistency and not having an off day, especially when it comes to auditions. This makes the All-State process very subjective. 

“It’s not a perfect process, and I don’t think people should give it the weight that some people sometimes do,” Tao said. “A lot of people are like, ‘Oh, this guy made All-State four times’ and kind of compare themselves, when in reality, we’ve had people make it freshman, sophomore, junior and then not make it their senior year. It happens all the time. If that doesn’t show you the process isn’t perfect, then I don’t know what else could.” 

When Tao made All-State Band his freshman year, he had no expectations for himself and no one put them on him. As the years went on and he made All-State year after year, those expectations weighed heavily.

“Honestly, a lot of people haven’t given me the opportunity to be surprised or happy, because it’s more like an expectation,” Tao said. “Especially this year, it’s like, ‘[Are] you going to make All-State for the fourth time?’ It’s extremely relieving to be done with the four years.”

However, he was able to put in the time and work to meet these expectations instead of letting them crush him, allowing him to focus to achieve his goals. 

“He put in a lot of work, but he wasn’t expecting that it would be automatic and that it would come to him,” CHS senior bandmate Mihir Ranjan said. “It was a pleasant surprise the first time around for him and afterward to match that same result again, if not the same work, more work. I’ve witnessed he doesn’t get depressed whenever he does something, he keeps going.” 

In addition to being consistent with his percussion skills, Tao is in the top 10% of the class. He is also described as a great communicator, empathetic and curious, enhancing his personality and musical talents.  

“Sometimes when people are at that level, they don’t really have the compassion that [Tao] has,” Miller said. “Just the fact that he’s definitely an empath, he notices what other people around him are feeling and sensitive to that which is exciting because some people who are up at that level aren’t able to connect with others as well.”

Follow Anika (@AnikaArutla) and @CHSCampusNews on Twitter.