ArticlesFeaturedMay 2020Musician Wellness

The Process is the Product

by Rena Urso

Looping back to build on my thoughts from last month’s, Taking What You Need, specifically, shifting from a “stuck inside” mindset to one of reflection, opportunity, and gratitude. 

Having sheltered in place for weeks, what are you learning about yourself? 

Are you finding ways to be at ease and settle into this quieter groove? 

Each day for me is different except for how it begins. I’ve become a morning person; waking early, making a pot of really good tea, and practicing yoga. I’ll be honest, some mornings I don’t feel like rolling out the mat, but there’s nothing quite like the post-yoga bliss, feeling grounded, totally at peace, and filled with immense gratitude. This is why I practice yoga. The ripple effect is profound; improving my inclusive awareness, giving me a greater sense of equanimity, and enhancing my artistry as a musician. I’ve also noticed an overall life shift in my patience and creativity, and it has found a path to my latest hobby; baking bread.

Growing up, my Dad often baked fresh bread. Some of you may recall, my Dad was a former Assistant Concertmaster with the Detroit Symphony and had many hobbies, cooking, and baking among them. The moment the bread came out of the oven was like Christmas morning. I’d grab the butter and generously spread it all over a big slice of warm freshly baked bread, savoring each bite. For years, I used a bread machine because I didn’t have the patience for the lengthy process and wanted instant satisfaction – or as instant as one can get when baking bread in a machine. 

Over the past few weeks I’ve been learning a lot from baking bread the slow, old school way; excitedly watching my starter grow, delighting in the pride I feel for my dough as it rises in its bowl and ultimately lifting it out of the Dutch Oven to admire its golden crusty goodness. Ahhhhhh. A thing of beauty! 

It’s not about how quickly I can make the bread. 

It’s not about how many loaves I can bake. 

It’s not about what the bread looks like when it’s finished.

It’s not even about how good it’ll be. 

Even if this loaf is different than the last loaf I baked, which it definitely will be - it’ll still be a one of a kind, delicious, special masterpiece. I literally said out loud, as I took my bread out of the oven the other night, “hello, pretty!” 

How does this all of this transfer to our practice rooms? 

It’s all about the process.  

If the process is good, the outcome will also be good. 

To quote a friend, “The process is the product.”

It all begins with a handful of simple, singular ingredients which, when combined, create something special. It’s going to take however long it’s going to take for the dough to do its thing; it may be a completely different experience than last time and it’s even possible that it won’t rise at all. Does that mean all is lost? Do you need to toss it out and begin again, or is it possible to find another way to salvage the dough? In the words of my dear mentor, the great Clement Barone, “there’s always another way.” You can’t rush the process; it’s going to take however long it’s going to take.

Baking bread is a perfect example of luxuriating in the process and finding joy in the simple things. The practice of yoga continues to teach me how to show up honestly as I am and be my authentic self, to laugh at myself when I make a mistake, and not take myself so seriously. Body Mapping has given me these tools as well and helps bring more curiosity and exploration into my practice. These two somatic practices intertwine and together continue to enhance my flute and piccolo playing by bringing my work to its very essence. As my husband, John, often says, “Less is more.”

Rena Urso is a member of the faculties at California State University Long Beach and California State

University Stanislaus, and a Course Coordinator for California State University Summer Arts – home to her popular biennial summer flute course, The Complete 21st Century Flutist at CSU Summer Arts. As a licensed Body Mapping educator, she presents Body Mapping workshops and masterclasses all over the world. An active freelance musician in the San Francisco Bay Area, she is a member of the Oakland Symphony, the Oregon Coast Music Festival Orchestra, and Alcyone Ensemble. Rena lives in the Chicago area with her husband John and their beagle Lillie. 

For more information about Rena and Body Mapping tips, please visit

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