Arts & Entertainment, Music

Meet Your Instructor: Yo-Yo Ma

Yo-Yo Ma

Lesson time 06:00 min

Yo-Yo performs Bach and shares insight that sets the tone for the class. While he once reached for perfection, it did not fulfill him. This realization changed his trajectory; he began focusing on human connection instead of human perfection.

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Topics include: Yo-Yo Ma Teaches Music and Connection


[CROWD MURMURING] [CROWD TALKING LOUDLY] [MUSIC PLAYING] [FILMSTRIP FLIPPING] [MUSIC PLAYING] YO-YO MA (VOICEOVER): I've been playing the cello for over 60 years now. ANNOUNCER: There is come to us a young man, aged seven, bearing the name Yo-Yo Ma. YO-YO MA (VOICEOVER): It's how I explore the world around me. It's how I connect to other people. It's how I express myself. JOHNNY CARSON: My next guest-- [CHEERS AND APPLAUSE] --is considered to be one of the truly fine cellists in the world. BARACK OBAMA: Today, he is considered one of the greatest classical musicians alive. YO-YO MA (VOICEOVER): Some of it is very physical-- playing an instrument. Some of it is communicative. You're sharing something with others. Some of it is spiritual. I value the communal feeling. During moments of great celebration and during moments of great sadness, we need to be together. Over time, I've come to understand why music is important. Music gives us a way to understand and connect with one another and imagine a better future. And we need music in order to have common hope. [MUSIC PLAYING] - You probably know me, if you know me at all, as someone who does this. And I've done it for 60 years, so I should be getting it right by now. However, is that what I'm trying to do? Am I trying to get it right? Or am I trying to find something? At one point, I had the audacity to think I could play a perfect concert. I came to the concert and I started playing. I was in the middle of the concert, and I realized everything was going perfectly well. And I was bored out of my mind. I still remember it, during the concert, saying, you know, I could actually just stop, and walk off the stage, and not feel a thing, because I had separated the act of doing something from the act of being present. That was the moment that I made a fateful decision that I was actually going to devote my life to human expression versus human perfection. I kept playing the cello and made my living playing the cello and loving music. But it wasn't until I was 49 years old when I had looked around. I had lived a bit, and traveled around, and met lots of people who did different things. I finally realized my great passion. I could explore all of the human condition through the lens of music. YO-YO MA (VOICEOVER): This is not an ordinary MasterClass. - I really don't like to tell people things. This is the way it is. This is what-- so I hope you won't expect me to do that. YO-YO MA (VOICEOVER): But during our time together, we're going to talk about what creates magical moments. And I'm going to be with two other cellists, and together, we will explore how we must balance technique and emotion-- or as I like to say, head, heart, and hands-- to express ourselves effectively. This class is for musicians and nonmusicians alike, and for anyone will...

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.

Featured MasterClass Instructor

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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