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Choosing a musical instrument

Have you ever thought about taking up a musical instrument? Here’s the perfect guide for you.

Instructions

Do the preparation exercise first. Then read the text and do the other exercises.

Preparation

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Choosing a musical instrument

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Preparation task

Choose the correct group of the following instruments

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2. flute, trumpet, tuba, saxophone, bassoon are:

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3. drums, tambourine, maracas, xylophone are:

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1. violin, guitar, double bass, cello, bass guitar are :

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Reading

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Choosing a musical instrument

Many people would like to learn how to play a musical instrument, but they are put off by one big problem: what to play? Here are a few questions to help you decide.

What kind of music do you like?

Many instruments are versatile, but some are more suited to certain types of music. Although there is some classical repertoire for the saxophone, for example, people associate it more with jazz, and it is not a permanent feature of many orchestras. Some instruments may lend themselves better than others to the music you like, so consider this before you start.

Do you want to play with other people?

Think about your long-term future as a musician. If you want to play with other people, what sort of instrument would be most practical? The initial attraction of playing a dazzling solo instrument like trumpet, violin, flute or lead guitar might fade when you realise how many other people are competing with you to get the main part with the same instrument! If you want to play rock music, there will always be a demand for bass players or drummers, and if you fancy being part of an orchestra, the bassoon is a great bet to make sure you are always needed.

Where are you going to practise?

Many people live in flats and practising the drums, for example, will drive your neighbours crazy. Think about where and when you are going to practise, as well as the patience of the people you live with or near. Electric versions of instruments like the piano, drums, guitar and even violin give you the option of playing into the night using headphones, while your housemates sleep in peace. Alternatively, you may need to consider going to a school or a community centre to practise.

How much money can you spend?

This is quite a big factor. A lot of instruments can be purchased in different price ranges, for example, guitars. But this doesn’t alter the fact that many, such as the piano, are always pretty expensive. If you can’t afford your chosen instrument, will you be able to borrow someone else’s or hire one?

Are there any physical limitations?

If you’re small and don’t like lifting heavy objects, you won’t want to carry around a double bass. Apart from that, use your common sense, and don’t let your perceived physical shortcomings put you off. Who says small skinny people can’t play the tuba? It’s true that some wind instruments require a lot of lung power but with the right coaching, everyone can develop the right technique.

Still not sure?

Talk to people you know who already play instruments. They might even let you try theirs. It’s also a good idea to find an experienced music teacher, preferably one who plays a few different instruments, who can give you some advice and push you in the right direction.

If you find an instrument you love and that suits your needs, you’ll find the time spent choosing was well worth it. Good luck with making your choice!

Task 1 Check your understanding

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Choosing a musical instrument

Choose the correct option to complete the sentences.

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Task 1 Check your understanding

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Many people think about learning a musical instrument but don't because ___.

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If you play the saxophone, ___.

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Playing a popular solo instrument ___.

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Electric instruments ___.

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Guitars ___.

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Before choosing an instrument you should ___.

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An experienced music teacher can ___.

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The best summary of the author's attitude is ___.

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Task 2 Check your understanding

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Choosing a musical instrument

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Task 2 Check your understanding

Choose de correct word or phrase to complete the sentence

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1. Many people are ______________ (discouraged by) not knowing which instrument to learn.

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2. The saxophone ________________ (is suitable for) playing jazz.

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3. The initial attraction of playing a ________________ (amazing, brilliant) solo instrument might fade when you realise how many other people play it as well.

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4. Playing the drums is ____________ (a clever choice) if you want to play in a band.

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5. Practising a loud instrument late at night will ______________ (make your neighbours extremely irritated or exasperated).

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6. You can borrow or hire an instrument if you ______________ (don't have enough money to buy) one.

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7. Even small, slim people can play the tuba, so don't let your perceived __________________ (problems or limitations with your body) put you off.

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8. Everyone can develop a good technique with _________________ (with someone teaching them to do it well).

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Are zoos a good thing?

How do you feel about keeping animals in zoos? Read both sides of the argument to help you decide.

Do the preparation exercise first. Then read the text and do the other exercises.

Preparation

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Are zoos a good thing?

Put the animals in their natural habitats.

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Camel

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Bison

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Zebra

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Seal

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Polar bear

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Penguin

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Giraffe

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Meerkat

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Elephant

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Ostrich

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Lizard

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Walrus

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Reading

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Are zoos a good thing?

Zoos are hugely popular attractions for adults and children alike. But are they actually a good thing?

Critics of zoos would argue that animals often suffer physically and mentally by being enclosed. Even the best artificial environments can’t come close to matching the space, diversity, and freedom that animals have in their natural habitats. This deprivation causes many zoo animals to become stressed or mentally ill. Capturing animals in the wild also causes much suffering by splitting up families. Some zoos make animals behave unnaturally: for example, marine parks often force dolphins and whales to perform tricks. These mammals may die decades earlier than their wild relatives, and some even try to commit suicide.

On the other hand, by bringing people and animals together, zoos have the potential to educate the public about conservation issues and inspire people to protect animals and their habitats. Some zoos provide a safe environment for animals which have been mistreated in circuses, or pets which have been abandoned. Zoos also carry out important research into subjects like animal behaviour and how to treat illnesses.

One of the most important modern functions of zoos is supporting international breeding programmes, particularly for endangered species. In the wild, some of the rarest species have difficulty in finding mates and breeding, and they might also be threatened by poachers, loss of their habitat and predators. A good zoo will enable these species to live and breed in a secure environment. In addition, as numbers of some wild species drop, there is an increased danger of populations becoming too genetically similar. Breeding programmes provide a safeguard: zoo-bred animals can be released into the wild to increase genetic diversity.

However, opponents of zoos say that the vast majority of captive breeding programmes do not release animals back into the wild. Surplus animals are sold not only to other zoos but also to circuses or hunting ranches in the US or South Africa, where some people are willing to pay a lot of money for the chance to kill an animal in a fenced enclosure. Often, these animals are familiar with humans and have very little chance of escaping.

So, are zoos good for animals or not? Perhaps it all depends on how well individual zoos are managed, and the benefits of zoos can surely outweigh their harmful effects. However, it is understandable that many people believe imprisoning animals for any reason is simply wrong.

Task 1 Check your understanding True or False

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Are zoos a good thing?

Are the sentences true or false?

1.Modern zoos can offer animals a living environment that is as good as their natural habitats.
○True ○False
2.One of the reasons zoo animals become distressed is because they are separated from their families.
○True ○False
3.Dolphins and whales usually live longer in zoos than in the wild.
○True ○False
4.People who have visited zoos are more likely to support animal conservation and protection.
○True ○False
5.Zoos protect animals from being used for scientific research.
○True ○False
6.Endangered animals kept in zoos are less likely to meet a mate and breed.
○True ○False
7.In their natural habitats, animals suffer problems related to human activity.
○True ○False
8.Endangered species often lack genetic diversity in their population.
○True ○False
9.Zoos promote genetic diversity by breeding animals and then releasing them back into the wild.
○True ○False
10.If zoos have more animals than they can look after, they always give them to another zoo or release them back into the wild.
○True ○False
11.Animals that have been bred in captivity quickly adapt to life in hunting ranches.
○True ○False
12.The author thinks that, on balance, zoos are generally a good thing.
○True ○False

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