9 Easter Worship Song Vocal Hacks

There are so many amazing songs to choose from for our Easter services… but what makes them EPIC can also make them a bit (or more than a bit?!) challenging to sing! High notes, low notes, octave jumps, wordy lyrics, songs that cover a huge amount of range… it’s enough to make our rehearsal times downright intimidating! So try out these 9 strategies as you practice—and hopefully you’ll experience more success (and less stress!) as you sing!

#1. FIND THE MIDDLE GROUND

When we push up chest voice or pull down head voice, the tone tends to lack power, the notes go off pitch, and the voice tires out easily. But… when we engage our pharyngeal resonator (the middle ground!) and mix it with our other resonators, we can find WAY more power, freedom and pitch accuracy!

Here’s what to try as you practice:

Replace the lyrics of a song with a nasally pharyngeal MEH sound to help your voice find the middle ground between chest and head voice. The whiny sound of the MEH exercise strategically creates a “mix voice pathway” for the lyrics to follow!

PS – Check out the full “Graves into Gardens” tutorial!

#2. BECOME A “BOOK” USER

Singing with a small, wide mouth shape on UH vowels creates tension and inefficiency for the voice, but creating more openness inside the mouth (as in the word “book”!) relaxes the voice and releases tension—enabling you to hit higher notes in your mix voice with WAY more ease!

Here’s what to try as you practice:

Try saying the words “book” and “bunny” and pay attention to the different mouth shapes those vowel sounds create. Then, when you find UH vowels in your songs (especially in the high range!), narrow your mouth and sing them more like UUH (like you’re saying the word “book”). For example, instead of singing “wonder working”, sing “WUUHNDUUH WUUHKIHN.” Instead of singing “the blood”, sing “THUUH BLUUHD.”

PS – Check out the full “Thank You Jesus for the Blood” tutorial!

#3. FILL UP YOUR GAS TANK BEFORE YOU NEED TO

When we don’t take enough breaths (or take them in the right places!), it’s easy to get stuck in the middle of a line and run out of breath (awkward!). And… sometimes we can tend to think that “the less breaths I take, the better”—NOT true!

So instead… fill up your gas tank often (long before it runs out!)—it will not only help your voice to function more efficiently, but it also helps bring stylistic variety to your phrases!

Here’s what to try as you practice:

Plan out exactly where you’ll take breaths in your phrases, and practice the song like that so that it becomes muscle memory! And—even if you feel like you don’t NEED to take a breath in a certain spot, take one anyway (within reason 😉)!

PS – Check out the full “Rattle” tutorial!

#4. KEEP THE ENERGY UP

In slower/medium tempo songs, we often aim to hold back at the beginning so that we leave room to build (start breathy/light/add dynamics throughout the song, etc.), but in upbeat songs, it’s often best to keep the energy UP in your voice the whole time!

Here’s what to try as you practice:

Work with your band to nail the riffs and rhythms that the song needs musically/dynamically, and then focus on keeping the energy up in your voice by doing these things…

  • engage a bright pharyngeal mix
  • keep the tone clear
  • sing with little to no vibrato
  • sing with contemporary phrasing
  • enunciate/emphasize consonants
  • take authority as you sing!

PS – Check out the full “What I See” tutorial!

#5. SING LIKE A FISH

Certain consonants (like R and L!) tend to get in the way of efficient singing because they close the mouth and cause tension. But… when we narrow our mouth (like a fish!) and minimize those consonants, we gain so much more freedom as we sing!

Here’s what to try as you practice:

When you find R and L consonants in a song, minimize the closing of your mouth and put your fingers on the sides of your mouth to remind yourself to stay narrow. For example, instead of singing “for God so loved the world”, try singing “FOH GOD SO LOVED THE WUH(L)D”. Instead of singing “will live forever… the power of hell forever”, try singing “WIH(L)IVE FOH(R)EVUH… THE PAW(R)UUHV HEH(L) FOH(R)EVUH.”

PS – Check out the full “God So Loved” tutorial!

#6. SAY NO TO MONOTONE

A monotone voice (ie, singing without dynamics) communicates a lack of authenticity and passion… but a conversational tone with subtle dynamics communicates that you really care about the words you’re singing!

Here’s what to try as you practice:

Speak out the lyrics, and pretend it’s a conversation… a story… a prayer—be authentic and see what subtle dynamics naturally come out in your voice! Then, bring those dynamics into your singing, and don’t aim for perfection and uniformity… imperfect is the new perfect—so let some breathy and edgy texture creep into your tone! Aim for there to be a rise and fall in the volume throughout each phrase. Let your unique voice and style—and emotion—drive the message of the song home with authenticity and passion!

PS – Check out the full “Living Hope” tutorial!

#7. START FROM THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN

Ascending melodies tend to make our brain say, “ah! we’re climbing up a mountain, and higher is harder!”—which isn’t true… higher isn’t harder; it’s just different! But… when we start from the top of the mountain (ie, invert the melody), we can trick our brain into nailing the high note that it thought was hard!

Here’s what to try as you practice:

When you’re having trouble with an ascending melodic phrase in a song, try this 3-step strategy:

  • STEP #1: Use a pharyngeal exercise on the highest note in the phrase to find a bright, released resonant placement for your mix.
  • STEP #2: Sing the melody from the top down to create a strategic pathway for your voice to follow.
  • STEP #3: Sing the written melody line—ideally without taking a breath beforehand!

For example, in the song “What I See”, try this strategic exercise in the chorus…

WAH top-down melody exercise

And… try this strategic exercise in the verse!

WAH 5-1-5 slide melody exercise

PS – Check out the full “What I See” tutorial!

#8. RUN OUT OF THE VOCAL GRAVE

You know… that place where notes go to die—chest voice pushed up high! Pushing up chest (although tempting!) puts a ceiling on the voice and severely limits our capacity for power and pitch accuracy… PLUS, it tires out the vocal cords and can potentially cause damage (ahhh! no! don’t do it!). But… shifting the resonance higher up in the face (to engage pharyngeal and head voice) lifts the ceiling off the voice and gives you so much more freedom as you sing high notes!

Here’s what to try as you practice:

Replace the lyrics of a song with a nasally pharyngeal mix NUH and/or NAY exercise to help your voice break old, bad habits of pushing up chest voice and make new, better ones! The whiny sound of these pharyngeal exercises helps keep the vocal cords together through the vocal break by thinning out chest voice to meet head voice—enabling us to find a resonant mix (and WAY more freedom!) as we move higher in our range.

PS – Check out the full “Glorious Day” tutorial!

#9. PLAN OUT THE JOURNEY BEFORE YOU GO

Especially for songs that don’t cover a lot of range (like “King of Kings”), if we’re not strategic about the tonal qualities and volume we use throughout the song, it can start to sound boring and monotonous very quickly. But… incorporating different volumes, tonal qualities and textures into the different sections of a song creates a beautiful, dynamic, engaging journey in your worship service!

Here’s what to try as you practice:

Plot out a simple song journey diagram to help you visualize the dynamics you’ll aim for as you sing! For example, you could plan to start light in the first verse and chorus (try a breathy, light head mix), then get bigger in the second verse and chorus (lean into your mix voice for more volume and clarity in your tone), come back down at the start of verse 3/bridge (sing it similar to verse 1), build into a big final chorus (engage a bright, powerful pharyngeal mix tone!), then drop back down on the tags to end the song (sing it light/breathy/edgy again). Remember—a journey doesn’t just HAPPEN… it’s important that we plan out the places that we will go with our voice!

PS – Check out the full “King of Kings” tutorial!


What do you think? How did these tips work for you? Is there another Easter worship song you’re having trouble with? Let me know in the comments! 

Remember—none of these tips take the place of a good vocal warmup, and of just being smart and putting the song in a good key for your range… so please, please do those things!

And if you want to see actual breakthrough and more consistency in your voice, there’s no substitute for training the voice diligently with vocal workouts designed to build good technique. As vocal coach Brett Manning says: “tricks are quick; training is sustaining!” But the reality is… sometimes we need a quick vocal hack, and we need it fast! So hopefully these tips and techniques will help you nail your Easter songs this year! Let me know how it goes! 

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    1. Love the practical tips. I’m using the technique of replacing my notes with the nasally pharyngeal nay, nay to teach myself to stop pushing up on my chest voice as I go up my register. It’s so effective!!!

    2. Thanks Charmaine for the explanation! The last part of the article really hit home. I have been scheduled to sing Easter and there are fee songs that
      start really low and get high in chorus . So my plan was to start the verses in a light head voice and go into a resonance voice for the choruses. I wasn’t sure if this was a good idea of mine, until you brought it up.😊

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