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Careless whisker: Universal to release album for cats

Level 2 l Upper intermediate
1 Warmer
What helps to calm you when you’re stressed?
What might calm an animal that is feeling stressed?

2 Key words
Find the key words in the article and write them next to the definitions below. The paragraph numbers are
given to help you.
cellist

label

picky

purring

species

suckling

undertaking

untapped

1. only liking specific things and not easily pleased ____________________________________ (para 1)
2. something that is not being used yet, but exists in large amounts that could bring profits
____________________________________ (para 1)
3. a company that produces records ____________________________________ (para 1)
4. someone who plays the cello, a large musical instrument with strings, held between the legs
____________________________________ (para 3)
5. something difficult or complicated that you do ____________________________________ (para 3)
6. animal group whose members all have similar general features ____________________________________
(para 3)
7. the continuous quiet low sound that a cat makes because it is happy
____________________________________ (para 4)
8. the action of a baby animal drinking its mother’s milk ____________________________________ (para 4)
breeds

melodies

neurotic

pioneer

pledges

ruled out

symphony orchestra

whirlwind

9. a large group of musicians, containing string, brass, woodwind and percussion sections, that plays classical
music ____________________________________ (para 4)
10. not considered as a possibility ____________________________________ (para 6)
11. different types of the same animal ____________________________________ (para 6)
12. constantly worried ____________________________________ (para 7)
13. tunes or songs, especially simple ones ____________________________________ (para 8)
14. something that happens very quickly and unexpectedly ____________________________________ (para 9)
15. promises to give money ____________________________________ (para 9)

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NEWS LESSONS / Careless whisker: Universal to release album for cats / Upper intermediate

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16. one of the first people to do something important that is later continued and developed by other people
____________________________________ (para 13)

Careless whisker: Universal to release album for cats

Level 2 l Upper intermediate
Careless whisker: Universal to release
album for cats
Mark Brown
3 September, 2016
1 They are a particularly tough audience – picky,
moody, often impossible to please – but cats
represent an untapped music market, according
to one of the world’s biggest record labels.
2 Universal Music has announced it will be the
first major record label to release an album that
is not for humans – although, until cats get bank
accounts, humans will have to pay for it.
3 David Teie, an American cellist and music
researcher based at the University of Maryland,
has created Music for Cats and says it is an
“absolutely serious” undertaking. He said: “The
biggest challenge is that people think it is silly.
But what’s silly is the idea that only one species
could have music available for it.”
4 The music features purring and suckling noises,
as well as Teie on his cello accompanied
by players from the US National Symphony
Orchestra. It is aimed at calming and bringing
pleasure to cats, rather than getting them excited.
5 Teie produced the album after first studying
whether music could be created for cotton-top
tamarin monkeys. Those experiments were so
successful that he decided to widen them.
“There are not very many cotton-top tamarin
owners so we decided, if we were to go out and
spread the word, spread the music, we should
work with a species we hang around with a lot,”
he said

9 The original music for cats was self-produced
after a whirlwind Kickstarter campaign quickly
attracted pledges of nearly $250,000. That caught
the eye of Universal, which signed Teie up.
10 Teie admitted he had gone through emotions
familiar to many musicians trying to do something
new. “I was very excited about it at first, then not
excited about it ... Was I signing my life away?
Now that it is all done, I’m very excited again,”
he said.
11 The album will be released on 28 October
and, as there are 9.2 million cats in the UK
alone, Universal believes there is an enormous
untapped market. A spokesperson said the label
was “thrilled to be part of this world-first project”
and predicted “Music for” albums could follow for
dogs and horses.
12 Teie said he hoped that, the more animal music
became available, the more it would be accepted.
“I am hoping that, in a hundred years from now,
people will have to be taught that music was once
only for humans,” he said.
13 If that happens, people may remember Teie as
the true pioneer. But his research has not always
been easy. “As a matter of fact, I’m allergic to
cats,” he said. “I’ve grown from being an admirer
to a genuine cat lover now but I’m still allergic.”
© Guardian News and Media 2016
First published in The Guardian, 03/09/16

6 Dogs were ruled out because there are so many
variations in the breeds. “I was worried that I
would have to write terrier music and Labrador
music and so on – it would have delayed things,”
Teie said.
7 So cats were chosen and it has proved
successful. Studies show the recordings are most
effective for cats who can be neurotic or nervous
or may have been badly treated in the past.

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NEWS LESSONS / Careless whisker: Universal to release album for cats / Upper intermediate

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8 Cat owners who can’t remember their pet ever
enjoying or reacting to music should be aware
they were playing them the wrong melodies, said
Teie. “There have been many studies done and
they were all unsuccessful because animals don’t
care about our music,” he said.

Careless whisker: Universal to release album for cats

Level 2 l Upper intermediate
3 Comprehension check
Answer the questions using information from the article.
1. Which company plans to release the cat music album and when?
2. Who first produced the music and how was it funded?
3. Which type of animal did Teie first study?
4. Why did he decide to produce music for cats instead?
5. Why didn’t Teie first produce music for dogs?
6. Apart from Teie and his cello, what else can be heard on the album?

4 Expressions
a. Match the expressions 1-8 with the meanings a-h. Then, find them in the article to read them again
in context.
1. untapped market

a. sell a collection of music

2. as a matter of fact

b. tell as many people as possible about something

3. catch someone’s eye

c. when someone agrees to work for just one company

4. hang around with

d. a potential group of buyers that hasn’t been targetted yet

5. release an album

e. agree to do something for a very long time, usually for someone else

6. sign someone up

f.

7. sign your life away

g. be suddenly noticed by someone

8. spread the word

h. spend time with

used when you are going to give more details about something

b. Choose five of the expressions – the ones that you think will be most useful to you – and use them in
sentences of your own.

5 The power of persuasion
You are going to try to convince someone to buy Music for Cats. Think about its benefits and make the
album sound as attractive as possible so that they feel that they really have to buy it. Use the table below
to make some notes.
benefits (for cats and owners)

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NEWS LESSONS / Careless whisker: Universal to release album for cats / Upper intermediate

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features

Careless whisker: Universal to release album for cats

Level 2 l Upper intermediate
6 Discussion

Would you buy the album for your cat or as a present for a friend who has a cat?

How much would you pay for the album?

Which other animals do you think could benefit from special music? Give reasons for your answer.

7 Webquest
Listen to an excerpt of the music and watch a video of cats reacting to it below.

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NEWS LESSONS / Careless whisker: Universal to release album for cats / Upper intermediate

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www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/sep/03/music-for-cats-david-teie-universal-purring-cello-universityof-maryland

Careless whisker: Universal to release album for cats

Level 2 l Upper intermediate
KEY
Teacher’s note: You may want to explain to students
that careless whisker, from the headline, is a play
on words. The song Careless Whisper was a 1984
international hit for George Michael, which reached
number one in nearly 25 countries and sold six million
copies worldwide.

2 Key words
1. picky
2. untapped
3. label
4. cellist
5. undertaking
6. species
7. purring
8. suckling
9. symphony orchestra
10. ruled out
11. breeds
12. neurotic
13. melodies
14. whirlwind
15. pledges
16. pioneer

4 Expressions
a.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.

d
f
g
h
a
c
e
b

b.

Teacher’s note: If students are unsure which
expressions would be most useful to them, suggest that
they write sentences for expressions 2, 3, 4, 7 and 8.

3 Comprehension check

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NEWS LESSONS / Careless whisker: Universal to release album for cats / Upper intermediate

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1. Universal; on 28 October, 2016
2. It was self-produced by Teie and funded by a
Kickstarter (crowdfunding) campaign.
3. cotton-top tamarin monkeys
4. There are a lot more cat owners.
5. There are too many variations in dog breeds and
he was worried that he’d have to write too many
different kinds of music for the different breeds.
6. the US National Symphony Orchestra, and purring
and suckling noises