Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

And Another One...

Today was the day of the first rehearsal of the Seishin Flying Eggheads (unexpected fanfare, student arrangement) for 2007, the Year of the Boar. As expected, it was rather hectic. The schedule headaches brought about by our last principal (in order to promote "balance" in the students' lives, i.e. give them more time to play with their cell phones and video games) mean that we can usually only manage four full-band rehearsals per month. To make matters worse, the increased daily class load brought about by the elimination of Saturday classes a few years ago thanks to the Ministry of Education and Technology (in order to give the students more "social time", i.e. still more time to play with their cell phones and video games...though we still have "Saturday seminars", just not regular classes!) means that each rehearsal is scarcely an hour in length.

Four hours of rehearsal per month. Any decent American high school stage band would consider that a joke, but that's what the Eggheads have to work with, and somehow we make it fall into place. Still, considering we have a Saturday Afternoon Concert coming up in a few weeks followed by the Big Regular Concert (full-instrument fanfare...oops, who played that bad note?) in a couple of months, and the student leaders want us to play completely different programs in each, we have our work cut out for us. I was already feeling the stress when I climbed into the director's saddle.

Actually, the rehearsal went rather well. We went over the tunes for the Saturday Afternoon Concert, and the kids were in the groove for the most part. Most of them were familiar with three of the four tunes we worked on, so it was just a matter of remembering and bringing the chops online. The fourth tune was new, but it was an easy arrangement (and needed a bit of rearranging to make it less boring), so it wasn't so tough. Still, I was reluctant to end at closing time, as usual, so we went a few minutes over. As usual. There were no complaints. There never are.

Actually, one of the many notable features of this year's Flying Eggheads is that they really get into it, far more than in past years. Several of the members always hang out and jam on their own for at least another half hour after we finish. Today was no different, and it definitely lifted my spirits even higher. I was feeling pretty good when I gathered up my stuff and went back downstairs to the music office.

I couldn't hear them clearly, but I still noticed that the kids seemed to be jamming on a tune that wasn't one of the ones we'd practiced. In fact, I didn't really recognize it at all. I didn't pay it any mind. Pretty soon I was engrossed in a discussion with Mr. Ogawa about upcoming plans. At least I was until our lead tenor sax player, a chronically timid 9th grader, suddenly came into the room with a strange look on her face, took my hand, and said nervously, "Sensei, are you busy? Something's up. Can you come back upstairs for a minute?"

The poor girl was trembling, and her hand was ice cold as she led me back up the stairs to the auditorium, assuring me desperately that there was nothing suspicious going on, which made me suspicious.

Entering the auditorium, I saw a number of the Eggheads standing in a circle around the drummer, instruments out. That's not really unusual because, as I said, they always jam for a while after rehearsal. However, this time it was just all the 9th grade members, which was unusual. I wondered if perhaps they wanted me to give them some instruction on their ad-lib solos. I was mistaken. The drummer counted off, and the 9th graders launched into a clever sort of Dixieland-style version of "Happy Birthday to You" that they'd only just arranged.

I thought I was going to cry. When they handed me the present (a somewhat expensive, brand-name necktie complete with a saxophone tie pin!) I most definitely had watery eyes and wasn't sure what to say. After all, though the kids celebrate Mr. Ogawa's birthday every year (with much fanfare and theatrics), it was only the second time in eleven years that anyone in the music club had ever acknowledged my birthday. (Of course, I'm getting to the point where I almost wish they wouldn't, but I'm not complaining!)

A Telecaster from the wife and a birthday serenade from the 9th grade members of the Seishin Flying Eggheads? How did I get to be so lucky this year?

...especially since that famous shrine in Odawara City warned me that this year would be the start of a three-year period of exceptionally bad luck? (Then again, Kashima Shrine said it would be a lucky year for me, so there!)


  • That's a very nice surprise for your birthday,eh? =)

    And happy belated bday wishes!!!=D
    *throw confettis*

    By Anonymous Angele, at 3:05 PM  

  • B-Days seem more fun the older I get..doing/experiencing stuff instead of getting stuff (although getting a little stuff is always fun too!)

    Happy Birthday and have lots of fun!

    By Blogger ladybug, at 6:19 AM  

  • A song is an awesome present. Happy 314th, MM.

    By Blogger Don Snabulus, at 7:53 AM  

  • Sometimes kids do good things... This sounds like a lesson I should learn.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:51 PM  

  • And
    'Happy birthday to you!'
    sung by a choir of ordinary Australians all singing in their own key oblivious to the vocal range and key of others.
    Very nice story.

    By Blogger Peceli and Wendy's Blog, at 3:30 PM  

  • Ooooo...Hu..Hu....The Moody Sensei almost had a happy cry in front of his students.

    Another unforgettable celebration!!!

    Hey, show me a photo of thatbrand-name necktie complete with a saxophone tie pin...

    By Anonymous L.C_D, at 5:22 PM  


    Happy Birthday to you..
    happy birthday to you..
    happy birthday..
    happy birthday...
    happy birthday to MM

    Wow!!! You really had a great birthday surprise!!! Don't we love surprises?? *wink*

    Hopefully, next year... another surprise b'day ya!!!

    By Blogger Selba, at 10:07 PM  

  • Doumo arigatou, everybody!

    I can almost ignore my age now! *whimper*

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 11:29 PM  

  • Awww how sweet - isn't it nice to feel appreciated?

    Maybe see it this way: They have to observe Mr O's b-day whether they like him or not. But when you get yours, it's more sincere.


    And yes, we do want to see the tie.

    By Blogger Olivia, at 1:09 AM  

  • Wow. Nice to feel appreciated. That's great. Here's a necktie story for you:
    (don't complain I know a much longer one)

    A guy goes into a restaurant and lounge, his shirt open at the collar, but is stopped by a bouncer who tells him he must wear a necktie to get in.

    So the guy goes out to his car and he looks around for a tie and discovers that he just doesn't have one. He sees a set of jumper cables in his trunk. In desperation he ties these around his neck, manages to fashion a fairly acceptable looking knot and lets the ends dangle free.

    He goes back to the restaurant and the bouncer carefully looks him over for a few minutes and then says, "Well, okay, I guess you can come in -- just don't start anything."

    By Blogger Pandabonium, at 9:05 PM  

  • how sweet!! i love that they did this for you... now i know where the tie came from. maybe i should read the older posts first, ya think?!! ;)

    i saw a thing on the news the other day abut japanese men - altho you're not japanese, but still... it was talking about how they're trying new styles for ties and suits and such. trying to become all mainstream. i guess for so long they've all been dressing alike and now they're testing their wings and branching out. it was an interesting story.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:48 PM  

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