This clearly worked brilliantly for the children I taught at Primary School! Today I’m going to hare with you the difference musically between singing like ‘Skittles’ or ‘Toffee’.

Musically, when we articulate each and every word/note we are singing/playing. The dictionary definition is “with each note sharply detached or separated from the others”. To convey this to my singers, I tell them to sing like skittles. Each word is it’s own little sweet, very small and completely separate from all of the other sweets/notes/words. There are many ways to explain this but I find this one works well visually. I even used to pop a small picture like the one above pin the PowerPoints of lyrics in singing assembly just to remind them!

Legato in music is the opposite. A dictionary definition states “Legato is a musical performance technique that produces fluid, continuous motion between notes. Each individual note is played to its maximum duration and then blends directly into whatever note follows.” I liken this to lovely smooth toffee, the sort that when you pull it just keeps on stretching. Mmmmmm!

Now, we need to put this into practice. With the warm ups I use/borrow/create we often sing them with an ordinary voice first and then like skittles, and then like toffee so that the singers can appreciate the difference between the sounds and learn how to create that sound themselves.

Give it a go. Take a simple song like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and create a version of skittles. Now try it as toffee. Does it work for you? Or do you have other analogies which work better?

There are, of course, slight variations. For example, if I don’t want the sound to be quite as spiky as skittles, and I want a sound a little more rounded but still separate from the others, I may ask for Maltesers. But that really is for another day….

Coming soon….. a singers journey into singing with a community choir.