In part 2 of the IELTS speaking test, you could be asked to describe a concert. As with any other IELTS topic, there are numerous possibilities for the specific wording of the question, so I will discuss those in this article. I will also show you some useful language and give you a sample answer.
If you are looking for a more general lesson on the IELTS topic of music, then you can check out this post.
The Cue Card: Describe a Concert
If you are asked to describe a concert for IELTS speaking part 2, then the cue card could be phrased in different ways or ask for different specific ideas. You can get an idea of that just by looking at the Google search suggestions, which reflect people’s experiences with IELTS:
Remember that the word “concert” will not always necessarily be used. You might be asked to “describe a musical event” or something similar, like “describe a music festival” or “describe an event that featured music.” Possibly, it could say “describe a musical performance.” It is important you read carefully and choose your answer appropriately.
Also note that the cue card will probably not just say “describe a concert.” It will probably continue:
- (that) you have seen
- (that) you enjoyed
- in your country
- (that) you would like to attend
Today’s cue card is this one:
Describe a music concert you have seen.
You should say:
– what kind of concert it was
– where and when it took place
– who you saw it with
and explain whether you enjoyed this music concert or not.
Analysing the Cue Card
It is important to think briefly about what the cue card is asking you to do. As I mentioned in the previous section, there are differences in how the first line could be worded. In this case, the first line is very simple: It must be a concert that you have seen. In other words, it cannot be a concert you haven’t seen.
You should also aim to cover the bullet points, giving details of the concert. This is not 100% essential, but it is a good idea to talk about these things. They usually allow you to give a more developed and interesting answer. They can also help you to plan your answer in advance, giving you more confidence to speak freely for the required 1-2 minutes.
You can even make mental notes based upon the cue card:
|Concert||Guns ‘n’ Roses|
|What kind?||Heavy metal/hard rock concert|
|Who with?||Various friends and girlfriend|
|Enjoyed it?||Yes because…|
By making notes in this way, you can give a logical answer without worrying about what to say next. There are other ways to consider, but this is a good one.
Language for Describing Concerts
When it comes to describing anything, you need to pick the right language to show the examiner that you have both range and accuracy. At the same time, it is important not to become obsessed with “advanced vocabulary.” Honestly, there is really no such thing.
You might look up a dictionary or visit some rubbish IELTS website made by an incompetent teacher and see silly phrases like “transcendent experience.” They may or may not be technically correct, but usually they are pretty weird and inappropriate. Instead, stick to the facts.
Think about the reality of the experience:
- What did you see?
- How did you feel?
- What did it sound like?
These can help you to pick some good language to use.
Here are a few examples of good words and phrases for different sorts of concerts:
|upbeat||(adj.) cheerful; optimistic||They had a really upbeat sound that got everyone moving.|
|pounding||(verb/adj.) strike or hit heavily and repeatedly||The pounding drumbeat drove the performance.|
|exhilarating||(adj.) making one feel very happy, animated, or elated; thrilling||I’d wanted to see her live for years and so it was the most exhilarating experience of my life.|
|spectacular||(adj.) beautiful in a dramatic and eye-catching way||With the music and dancing and lights, it was all just spectacular! I can hardly even describe it!|
|open-air||(adj.) a free or unenclosed space outdoors||It was an open-air show last summer.|
|instrumental||(adj.) performed on instruments, with no vocals||For some reason, I just love instrumental concerts. Singers are ok but they are distracting.|
|vocals||(noun) a part of a piece of music that is sung||The duet was incredible. Both of their vocals were just sublime.|
Here is a video made by another English teacher that can help you with more vocabulary for describing concerts:
I will include some more of my own suggested vocabulary after my sample answer, which you will find below.
Sample Band 9 Answer
In January, 2017, I travelled to Japan with my girlfriend to watch Guns ‘n’ Roses play a major show in the capital city, Tokyo. We were both huge fans of Guns ‘n’ Roses and so we could not pass up the opportunity to see them play live. They had been big in the 1980s and had broken up in the ‘90s, so this was a sort of come-back show.
To be honest, I was really not expecting much from the performance. Guns ‘n’ Roses had always been my favourite band but I knew that their heyday was long ago. They were out of practice and some of their recent shows had been mocked because the singer was out of shape. Still, I was excited just for the experience. I don’t go to many concerts and this was a chance to see my musical idols.
Incredibly, they gave the best performance I had ever heard them give. The singer’s voice was even better than it had been in the ‘80s and they nailed every song. They even played a few covers of bands like Queen, which was unexpected. The ran through all their most famous hits and the crowd went wild when they played Sweet Child of Mine, which is perhaps their most famous one.
Altogether, the show was brilliant. Even the warm-up act, a Japanese girl group called Babymetal, was fantastic. I loved every moment of it and it is one of my favourite memories.
More Notes on Vocabulary
I used some pretty good language here that is very specific to this topic:
- play a show
- huge fans
- pass up (an) opportunity
- play live
- (to be) big
- broken up
- come-back show
- out of practice
- nailed (v. informal)
- the crowd went wild
You might also like this video about musical instruments: