Legato Staccato Name Game

This warm-up activity will support your students in learning their classmates’ names as they develop ensemble skills and develop their music vocabulary.

Legato Staccato Name Game

Legato Staccato Name Game

Contributed by T. Scott Lilly


This warm-up activity will support your students in learning their classmates’ names as they develop ensemble skills and develop their music vocabulary.


  • Form a circle.
  • “Today for our warm-up, we will learn two terms from the language of music, Italian. The two terms are legato and staccato.”
  • Sing five notes: “La-la-la-la-la” (C,D,E,F,G) (Do-re-mi-fa-sol). “Class, sing that with me: La-la-la-la-la.” Give positive feedback.
  • “Repeat after me: legato—smooth and connected.” As you say this,  move in a legato way.  
  • “Now if I wanted to sing our five notes legato, it would sound like—” (sing it smooth and connected, like you’re sliding the notes into each other upward).
  • “Repeat after me: staccato—sharp and disconnected.” Say this in a staccato manner. “Now our same five notes will sound like this: La-la-la-la-la.” Say it staccato, very short with space in between.
  • Repeat this a few times, singing the five notes—legato and staccato—all together.
  • “Now we’re going to play the Staccato Legato Name Game. We’ll go around the circle saying our name either staccato or legato, it’s up to you, but you should make a clear choice. We’ll all repeat how you said it and then decide if it was staccato or legato. You can add a gesture or movement to it if you wish.”
  • Model the activity by saying your name and moving in a legato or staccato way. Ask students to guess which it was. Model again with the other option.
  • Go around the circle and ask students to say their name in a legato or a staccato way. The whole class guesses staccato or legato after each turn.
  • If time permits, go around the circle twice and ask students to say their name both ways.

Transition into Activity

Circle up in the manner you normally do. The form a circle activity also gives some ideas.

Transition out of Activity

Ask students to move back to their desks or tables in a legato way. Notice who’s doing it exceptionally well.

Classroom Arrangement

A circle is ideal. You can do it at their desks or stations with a clear mechanism or instruction for students to know who is going next. For example, students could go by row, table, etc.

Supports/Adaptive Materials/Tools

  • Use Go and Stop cards to cue when to sing the five notes together.
  • Instead of saying your name out loud, use a gesture in a legato or staccato way. The group will repeat it back and guess which it is.
  • Use a keyboard or instrument to play the five notes: C-D-E-F-G (ascending). Play straight quarter notes. For legato, play very smoothly, connecting the notes like it’s gliding. For staccato, play very sharp and short (1/16th notes with rests between so it’s still in time). Here’s an external video example
  • Share examples of music that exemplifies legato and staccato dynamics. Invite students to listen and identify sections that sound legato or staccato to them. Here’s an external video example.

Possible Roles for Classroom Professionals

  • Help to model the activity. 
  • Participate as a member of the circle or a group.

Adjustments for Remote Instruction

Laptop IconInvite students one at a time to unmute themselves and sing the five notes in a legato and staccato way. Invite students to unmute themselves and say their name and move in a legato or staccato way. Students can add their guesses in the chat or raise their hand to guess.

Art forms


10 mins