To the folk up the back

To the folk up the back
who yakkety yak;
who have no manners
and attention lack;

Please don’t talk.
Or, go for a walk!

If you’d paid attention
There’d be no apprehension
About what or whom
I just made mention

I’m not talking
of the kids, you see…
for they are all
listening to me.

Now, where were we then?
Let’s start again.


I just came across this ditty I scribbled to let off steam several years ago. It was after presenting one of my shows where several teachers sat up the back of the hall having their own little staff meeting. Every now and then they would stop their important conversation to loudly tell off a kid for excitedly commenting on something that was happening in the story! I had to control myself not to stop my narrative to tell the teachers off!

I wrote this ditty thinking it would be fun to slip it in the middle of my rhyming story… perhaps they would never even notice I was having a go at them, but the students would appreciate it.

I never did use it. Most teachers are engaged and interested in listening and participating… but not all lead by example. Alas.

Anne M Norman


About anne norman

musician, shakuhachi player, author, poet, tea lover...
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2 Responses to To the folk up the back

  1. So many in these times have lost the ability to listen: to the wind, the rain, the sunshine, the bird, the rooster, the donkey, the stone, the mountain, to another person, to themselves… Maybe that is what you are doing with all your performances – enticing people to learn to listen deeply again. It is so needed! …and, yes, good to let off steam every so often.
    warm regards, tomas


    • anne norman says:

      Tomas, I put a link to this little blog on my FaceBook Page and got a lot of comments and likes. So many other visiting artists have had the same experience. Students listen attentively, eagerly, but teachers don’t. In response to their sharings, I wrote this:

      Ironically, the morning after posting this ditty, a young female teacher in a short, black, designer dress and open laptop whispered her way through the first third of my duo show to another young female teacher who was not brave enough to tell her to stop talking. She was the only one in an audience of 180+ who talked during the show. Then the music teacher, who had invited us to her school, walked around the back of the audience to Ms Designer Dress & companion, and said a few inaudible words and pointed to the door. I was performing a shakuhachi accompaniment to Toshi’s song at that point so couldn’t smile outwardly. The two teachers elected to stay and listen (and did not talk again).

      During lunchtime, the music teacher told me of her mission: to give each child who comes through the school the gift of deep listening. Taking the time to help them to focus through their ears. They have been listening to shakuhachi recordings for the last week in preparation for our visit; lying on the floor with eyes closed, entering the sound.
      The ability to listen was not something passed on to Ms Designer Dress when she was a child, but perhaps the music teacher will pass on a few gifts to her colleagues as well as the children. All strength to music teachers.

      Yes, Tomas, I believe that audiences crave an opportunity to stop and listen. Some just need a little help to put that laptop away, and put their cares aside for the duration of the show, and then they too can be still and listen.

      Warm regards to you too, Tomas.

      Liked by 1 person

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