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This next year, we're getting real with ourselves.

Updated: Jan 17, 2023

Hey UPSTAGE family! Happy Tuesday.

We're just a couple weeks from 2023 and starting (about now) corporate America starts yelling at us about our New Year resolutions. "Sign up for your 2023 gym membership now!" "Take control of your mental health in 2023!" (All good things,) but it can be a lot of pressure.

I'm also going to start yelling at you - but you don't need to feel the pressure.

Let's just chat a little bit about transparency. I'm not talking about your relationship with fans or even what you outwardly portray as an artist. (Transparency with fans is a choice; something you figure out in your own artist development process.) The transparency that I'm talking about regards a certain honesty with yourself and is a necessity for growth.

As artists, we spend a lot of time boosting our confidence just to survive- and I totally get it - it takes a lot to put ourselves out there, time after time. We're our own most important cheerleaders and it's not an easy job. Part of being transparent with ourselves is recognizing that and giving ourselves credit for it.On the other hand, sometimes the harder thing to do is look at ourselves through a constructively critical lens. We deserve to embrace our wins! But we also deserve to be able to kindly look at ourselves with an honest view that encourages us to keep improving.

You might be saying to yourself, "oh- don't worry Jada, I'm plenty good at picking myself apart."

✋🏼 I'll raise my hand and admit that I, like many of us, am GREAT at being my own worst critic, but I'm not the best at always constructively looking at my weak areas and turning them into challenges, goals, & areas for work. The funny thing is that if we're able to channel our inner doubts, imposter syndrome, & self criticism into constructive criticism, we'd probably feel better!

So why is it so difficult to do? Because it forces us to consider changing behavior and get out of our safe spots. The negative voices in our head are not fact, but rather fear talking. We need to tackle those fears head-on and turn them into opportunities for growth!

Here's some examples of what I'm talking about:

- Maybe a singer's safe spot looks like cheating out on bar chords and not playing the correct inversions on guitar when accompanying themselves. Make it a goal to sit down and practice those bar chords and chord inversions.

- As a band, is everyone doing a great job of communicating constructively? Can you change a way you run rehearsals or provide feedback within the group? There's no point in rehearsing if it's actually just a glorified "jam session." Get critical! You deserve to!

- Perhaps a behavior that feels "good to you" when playing live is not making eye contact with anyone while performing. Start taking baby steps and push yourself out of that. It starts with an active choice.

- Do you write in a box? Use the same group of chord progressions or song structures? Make it a point to try and write a song that expands your writing skills.

- In the studio are you relying on that engineer to tune your vocals all the time? Take a dive into your vocal health, usage habits, warm ups and practice! You can also look to a professional for external advice, feedback, or coaching.

How can you become a better musician? How can you become better at your craft, creative process, or even your artist organization?

It sounds cliché to encourage people to work at bettering themselves, but the best musicians truly do. Be hungry for improvement- don't be complacent. Especially, if the things you're doing now simply aren't working.

Lastly, I'd like to share my favorite area of growth.

Growing tougher skin. As a recording and performing artist you've gotta be ready for the good, the bad, and the ugly. How are you going to keep yourself going when things DON'T go the way you plan? The truth is that the more you grow as an artist, the more people are going to NOT like you. And that's just because you're being exposed to criticism by a larger group of people over time. And this is all by choice! (Us artists are a crazy kind of folk, I swear.) The good news is that there's ways to combat this- many of which I talk about with my UPSTAGE artists each week.

Key takeaways:

- Make it a goal to, get constructively critical with yourself this year.

- Complacency is the enemy.

- Learn how to take criticism and expect it.

So that's it for this week, Go be rockstars.



Wrapping up a virtual Artist Development session with artist Siera McGregor & UPSTAGE owner, Jada LaFrance. (2022)

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