Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

"Flying Eggheads"? Say, WHAT??!?

Some people are wondering (quite understandably) why the jazz ensemble at ye olde academy is called the "Seishin Flying Eggheads". I have explained that in the past, but since the blog "family" has gotten a whole lot bigger recently, I guess it's only right for me to tell the story.

The year was 1997. The jazz ensemble I had founded at Seishin Gakuen was now in its second year, but it was still just "The Seishin Gakuen Jazz Ensemble". School jazz bands were and still are quite rare here in Ibaraki Prefecture. (At present I believe there are six counting us.) There are a lot more down south in Chiba Prefecture, and in Tokyo they are quite numerous. All of them have some kind of funky name, such as "The Mad Hatters", "Blue Harmony", "Electric Orchestra", etc.. At any rate, they were all much cooler monikers than "The Seishin Gakuen Jazz Ensemble". Therefore, Mr. Ogawa suggested that I come up with a name.

That year we had a problem. The music club was under attack from a faction of teachers who thought that students should do nothing but study. We're always being criticized for our busy schedule and the diligence of our members (some of whom practice five hours a day), but in 1997 that one clique of teachers really turned up the heat. They started shoving their noses into everything we did, getting on their soapboxes and railing against us during staff meetings, making frequent official complaints to the principal and PTA, taking every little problem out of context and blowing it way out of proportion, putting heat on our more dedicated members, and finally trying to get school rules changed mainly to try to hamstring us. Mr. Ogawa was constantly on the defensive, working hard to defend us without risking his own standing any more than necessary (i.e. being Japanese. In my case it was more like a counteroffensive as I was far less polite and far more willing to attack (read "be tactlessly blunt if not openly insulting with") anyone that leveled a half-assed if not totally baseless accusation against us.

Finally, during our summer training camp that year, Mr. Ogawa and I were relaxing over beers one evening and reflecting on our various issues. The issue of the name of the jazz ensemble came up along the way. We had already been stewing over the attacks we'd been suffering, and that triggered Mr. Ogawa's sarcastic sense of humor.

With a grin, Mssr. Maestro Ogawa said, "We should think up a name that implies the students do nothing but study all day and have no real lives. Maybe something like 'The Seishin Otaku '."

The word otaku means "geek" or "nerd", so I then suggested (wait for it...) "The Seishin Geeks" or "The Seishin Nerds". This was followed by a lot of laughter, after which we took turns trading names that ranged from silly to just plain ridiculous. Still, it was a lot of fun, and it was a much-needed release from the stress we'd both been suffering. Then, somewhere along the line, I said, "How about 'The Seishin Eggheads'?"

Mr. Ogawa stopped laughing and asked what the word meant. I explained that "egghead" basically refers to an intellectual or a diehard academic. Mr. Ogawa thought it was a good one. He insisted that I should run with it like a little boy in a field. (Stonehenge...)(Never mind.) I was skeptical as to whether the kids would like it or not, so I decided to talk it over with the band.

I mentioned "eggheads" as a suggestion, but I also explained to the band what it really meant. That got them talking, but with typical Japanese reservation, no strong opinions were forthcoming. Therefore, the band captain decided to resort to democracy. She told the members to write down one or more suggestions for a band name in order of preference. The 11th grade members would then select the top few and put it to a vote.

As it turned out, everyone in the band but one picked "The Eggheads" as their top choice. The one naysayer was our lead alto sax player, the now-famous (though not for music...though she is studying at Japan's top music college now) Megumi Kasuga. She'd wanted to name the band "Zip", and she was adamantly opposed to having a name that had any academic implications. "I'm NOT an intellectual!" she railed. However, she acquiesced to the will of the majority.

One of the trombonists suggested that "The Eggheads" was too simple. He said, "How about 'The Jazzy Eggheads' or something cool like that?" Everyone agreed with him, and we finally settled on "The Flying Eggheads". Inserting "Seishin" into the mix was my own idea, since most school jazz bands include their school name in their band names when performing outside their campus. Hence, we are "The Seishin Flying Eggheads".

I should also mention that, after we'd decided on a name, the vice-captain of the band came up with a really cute mascot/logo, basically a smiling egg with wings flying across a cloudy sky, which she then stenciled onto the box music stands used by the front-row players. We still flash that logo with pride. (I don't have a picture handy to upload and link, so I'll scan one in later.)

Okay, does that answer your questions?


  • all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.. or in this case.. Ogawa?

    By Blogger Robin, at 12:06 PM  

  • That's a delightful answer. A rather uplifting outcome/solution to a frustrating trend/problem. I bet the band find retreat, peace and inspiration in the flying eggheads. Away from the rest of the drones.

    By Blogger agus, at 2:56 PM  

  • I think the students also get a kick out of the fact that they actually know what "egghead" means, whereas nobody else around here does. They just think it's a cute mascot/logo.


    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 7:23 PM  

  • Shucks, I was hoping for a story about your head being pelted with eggs at a concert.

    By Blogger Pandabonium, at 7:54 PM  

  • Now I know. Thank you.

    Having participated in the naming certainly gave the band members ownership and pride. I thought that was a good move.

    By Blogger Happysurfer, at 7:54 PM  

  • lol ...eggheads...jeez..cant stop laughing

    By Blogger saba, at 11:39 PM  

  • cute, cute! you know, i never really knew what egghead meant... hmmm, i wonder if that means something! ;)

    By Blogger tooners, at 5:29 PM  

  • Panda
    Thankfully, that hasn't happened yet. >:-(

    The kids certainly got a kick out of it...and they still love the logo!

    It's funny, though; our current "Eggheads" lineup includes one student who is at the top of his class and two that are near the bottom of theirs...

    I hope you don't wind up suffering brain damage from lack of oxygen! ;-)

    Don't worry. "Egghead" is actually rather dated. It was mainly used from the 30s to the 60s (yes, before I was born!). I thought that made it appropriate, since a lot of the music the "Eggheads" play also dates from that period.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 9:55 PM  

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