Arts & Entertainment, Music

Expressing Ourselves to Make an Impact

Yo-Yo Ma

Lesson time 11:15 min

Yo-Yo dives into the impact of live performance and how to prepare yourself for a performance, whether you are a musician or not.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: How to Prepare for a Performance • Emotional Presence • Emotional Imagination


[MUSIC PLAYING] YO-YO MA: Magic in live performance occurs when there's an unbroken flow of energy, a flow that connects the content with expressive communication and memorable reception, a flow that results in the content living in someone else. Successful performance is fueled by shared thought and shared emotion. It is a collective experience that demands the presence of every person in the room. Then it doesn't matter whether you're a musician or performer. We all have roles to play. We're all performing, whether on the traditional stage or just in life. I bet you have experienced magic, magic in a moment in a live performance when something happens. Maybe it's a whole performance. Maybe it's a moment. But suddenly, everybody realizes, oh, my goodness. And that magic is some form of awe. You can experience that in nature. You can experience it in the classroom. You can experience it watching a newborn. But what I think, in my life as a performer, what makes for that magic are three things. And those three things are content, communication, and reception. Now, what do I mean by any of these things? Content is what you decide something that you're doing is. It could be the questions, for example, that I've always asked-- who did it and why? If I get to some answers about a piece of music or a work of literature, I then need to have the technique or the communicative skills to be able to share that with you, the audience, the viewer, the listener. And in each case when I know the content and when I know how to do something in a live performance, actually, I'm not the most important person. The most important person is you, the person who is receiving the information. If, the next day, you don't remember what happened, then we might as well not have been there. That magic, to me, is something living. And to me, that's the essence of what I try to do in music, what we try to do in culture, what we try to do in terms of transmitting something to somebody so it lives in somebody else. And that's what we try to do in life. [MUSIC PLAYING] Whether you're a musician, a poet, or giving a presentation at work, there are some questions you can ask yourself that will help you create this magic. A lot of people ask me, do you get nervous when you play? I do get nervous. I get nervous if I have to speak in public. I get nervous if I'm doing something for the first time because I'm going into the unknown. So I have to ask myself, why am I doing this, and how am I going to do this? What tools do I have to overcome worry and nerves? One thing I can do in the practice room is practice my technique so I can actually get something right five, 10 times in a row. That's good engineering of my neuromuscular system. And we can all do that in our various professions. We can rehearse. We can study. And that's good. But how do we perform under pressure? [MUSIC PLAYING] One of the things that goes with technique is emotiona...

About the Instructor

Likely the world’s most recognizable cellist, Yo-Yo Ma has spent more than 60 years creating meaning through music. Now, the 18-time Grammy Award winner is sharing that experience with you. Whether or not you play an instrument, explore Yo-Yo Ma’s philosophy for embracing music’s emotional power, expand your self-expression and creativity, and develop a deeper appreciation for music’s ability to connect people and culture.

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Yo-Yo Ma

World-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma teaches you how music can be a source of meaning, connection, imagination, and understanding.

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