Views #1086 | Intermediate (B1)

Jam Session

Shirley talks about being a performer and the difference betweens and gigs and jams.

Todd: Shirley, we're talking about your singing career and you sing at weddings but you also sing just at normal events right like at clubs and places like that?

Shirley: Yeah, that's right. Yeah, just at live venues and having either a concert or a jam session.

Todd: OK, so what's the difference between just having just a concert or a jam session?

Shirley: As a singer you get a lot more control about what you would do and what kind of music you're going to do at a concert because that's really your chance to make you selection on the songs and the style of music and who you would play with and if you want to have a theme for the evening.

At a jam session, that's a little bit different again. Usually just musicians come together and every thing's completely unrehearsed and people just literally just jam which means they get together and they spontaneously play and sing and ...

Todd: So it sounds just like a party for musicians really?

Shirley: Usually the audience can get involved depending on the size of the venue. For example, a lot of places that I sing at are quite small jazz clubs so you're very close with the audience and they can ,you know, be clapping or just enjoying the spontaneity. There's usually a lot of energy in that kind of performance so I think that kind of leaks out into the audience and at the same time the audience bounces back that energy so it's almost like a conversation between the musicians and the audience and you get to feed off each other.

Todd: Right, so you feed off the audience, their energy.

Shirley: Yeah. Yeah.

Todd: Now when you preform do you get stage fright or do you get butterflies in your stomach?

Shirley: Yeah, enormous butterflies. Actually more like huge cockroaches fluttering around in there I think.

Todd: Yuck.

Shirley: Sounds pretty terrible I know but, yeah, I'm not an easy performer. It's kind of stressful for me before I get out there but once you get out there and you remember that the purpose for being there is to just give the audience a fun evening. Some relaxation, some time away from their everyday lives and that they're there to do that as well, so I find that a kind of reassuring thought and I see it as my job to just give them a nice time.

Todd: Well, I've heard you sing and you have an amazing voice. You're an incredible singer.

Shirley: Thank you.


Learn Vocabulary from the Lesson



They get together and spontaneously play and sing.

When something is spontaneous it happens suddenly with no planning. Notice the following:

  1. A good public speaker can talk sponateously without looking at a script.
  2. My father was very spontaneous. Always driving the family on adventures at a moment's notice.

stage fright


Do you get stage fright when you sing?

Stage fright is when a performer is scared to perform. They are frightened to be on stage. Stage fright can happen to anyone who is performing in public. Notice the following:

  1. You knew he had stage fright because his hands were shaking.
  2. I always get stage fright before I speak in public.

get butterflies


Do you get butterflies when you perform?

When you get butterflies, that means you get nervous about something you are about to do. It feels like you have butterflies in your stomach. Notice the following:

  1. Many teachers get butterflies before their first class.
  2. She looked so calm on stage but inside she had huge butterflies in her stomach.

feed off


It's almost like a conversation between the musicians and the audience and you get to feed off each other.

When you feed off people, like a crowd, that means the you get energy or confidence or ideas from them. Notice the following:

  1. A good stand-up comedian can feed off the audience and include them in the performance.
  2. The team fed off the energy of the crowd and played on to victory.



I find that reassuring.

When something is reassuring, it makes people feel more confident or comfortable about something they were worried about before. See the following examples:

  1. It was reassuring to see the policeman on the dark street.
  2. The teacher reassured us that the test would be easy.

Vocabulary Quiz

spontaneous • stage fright • butterflies
feed off • reassuring
  1. The band likes to the energy of the crowd.
  2. The students do better with teachers who are more in their lessons.
  3. It was to see Bill back at work so soon after surgery.
  4. Many singers had to overcome early in their careers.
  5. Even calm, cool athletes get before a big game.
Answer the following questions about the interview.

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