Yo-Yo Ma Quotes

One of the most interesting aspects of the film project was collaborating with so many people – directors, filmmakers, and writers – over a five-year period. I learned that there are two components to this.

Yo-Yo Ma

What came up at age 49 is I realized that of all the things I’m interested in, the thing I’m most interested in is figuring out what makes people tick, why people think the way they do, why they act the way they do. And I realized that music is such a great way to investigate why people do what they do.

Yo-Yo Ma

I think that peace is, in many ways, a precondition of joy.

Yo-Yo Ma

I think anybody who goes away finds you appreciate home more when you return.

Yo-Yo Ma

I’m not likely to forget where I’ve been and what I’ve done and learned. I think it’s just as important to play new instruments as to play new pieces. The old ones are getting scarcer and the new ones more and more wonderful.

Yo-Yo Ma

My job as a performer is to make sure that whatever happens in a performance lives in somebody else, that it’s memorable… If you forget tomorrow what you heard yesterday, there’s really not much point in you having been there – or me, for that matter.

Yo-Yo Ma

Passion is one great force that unleashes creativity, because if you’re passionate about something, then you’re more willing to take risks.

Yo-Yo Ma

Music is powered by ideas. If you don’t have clarity of ideas, you’re just communicating sheer sound.

Yo-Yo Ma

Things can fall apart, or threaten to, for many reasons, and then there’s got to be a leap of faith. Ultimately, when you’re at the edge, you have to go forward or backward; if you go forward, you have to jump together.

Yo-Yo Ma

One of the things I love about music is live performance.

Yo-Yo Ma

Mastering music is more than learning technical skills. Practicing is about quality, not quantity. Some days I practice for hours; other days it will be just a few minutes.

Yo-Yo Ma

The role of the musician is to go from concept to full execution. Put another way, it’s to go from understanding the content of something to really learning how to communicate it and make sure it’s well-received and lives in somebody else.

Yo-Yo Ma

I think of a piece of music as something that comes alive when it is being performed, and I feel that my role in the transmission of music is to be its best advocate at that moment.

Yo-Yo Ma

There are limits to how much sound a cello can make. That’s part of the framing of acoustical instruments. Finding what those limits might be, and then trying to suggest perhaps even the illusion of going beyond is part of that kind of effort.

Yo-Yo Ma

I remember when I was growing up. My great wish was to understand who I was and how I fit in the world.

Yo-Yo Ma

I’ve been traveling all over the world for 25 years, performing, talking to people, studying their cultures and musical instruments, and I always come away with more questions in my head than can be answered.

Yo-Yo Ma

I think the purpose of a piece of music is significant when it actually lives in somebody else. A composer puts down a code, and a performer can activate the code in somebody else. Once it lives in somebody else, it can live in others as well.

Yo-Yo Ma

My teacher, my great cello teacher Leonard Rose, was such a great cellist, and nurturing man, very patient. But I grew up not only admiring him, but obviously Casals, Rostrotovich, Jacqueline du Pre, and many others, including many of my peers and contemporaries.

Yo-Yo Ma

I think all musicians have at one time or another experienced one physical problem or another. I have had tendinitis a couple of times, so I try to be really careful. It takes patience and persistence to overcome injury.

Yo-Yo Ma

I think there are so many ways to become interested in music. I believe signs of sustained interest gives a sense of the right time. Music, if thought of as a language, would perhaps indicate that as early as possible is not so bad. I do believe that a really nurturing first teacher that makes the child love something is crucial.

Yo-Yo Ma

As a child, you respond physically, tactically. You’re delighted by sound, you’re delighted by recognizing something. It’s like hide and seek. Is it there? Is it not there? Is it this note? Is it not this note? It’s one fantastic game.

Yo-Yo Ma

With every year of playing, you want to relax one more muscle. Why? Because the more tense you are, the less you can hear.

Yo-Yo Ma

As a musician I’m kind of nomadic, Waldo-like. I show up in different places, and I’m witness to unbelievable things.

Yo-Yo Ma

After reaching 50, I began to wonder what the root of life is.

Yo-Yo Ma

I really would like to be involved in things and to understand things, and in some ways you’ve got to be careful what you wish for because I feel very, very blessed to have such an interesting life and to be able to have little snapshots of lives of people from many different parts of the world.

Yo-Yo Ma

It’s easy for me to care about Toronto, because Toronto is a community that cares about itself. It represents the world. It talks to itself, and because it does, it figures out that there must be a music garden as part of its existence.

Yo-Yo Ma

When we have a good balance between thinking and feeling… our actions and lives are always the richer for it.

Yo-Yo Ma

The tango is really a combination of many cultures, though it eventually became the national music of Argentina.

Yo-Yo Ma

A composition is always more than the sum of its parts. In other words, a really good piece of music is more than itself. It’s sort of like a prism, which you can see from each facet a single totality.

Yo-Yo Ma

I learn something not because I have to, but because I really want to. That’s the same view I have for performing. I’m performing because I really want to, not because I have to bring bread back home.

Yo-Yo Ma

Many of the Central Asians know Russian, and Ted Levin speaks it fluently. I speak Chinese, but Mongolian is completely different, so we had to have translators.

Yo-Yo Ma

People will ask, ‘Are you famous?’ And I always answer, ‘My mother thinks so.’

Yo-Yo Ma

Music has always been transnational; people pick up whatever interests them, and certainly a lot of classical music has absorbed influences from all over the world.

Yo-Yo Ma

Jazz has been such a force in music, that any musician, including classical composers, have been influenced, and obviously performers, also.

Yo-Yo Ma

When you learn something from people, or from a culture, you accept it as a gift, and it is your lifelong commitment to preserve it and build on it.

Yo-Yo Ma

I love grocery shopping when I’m home. That’s what makes me feel totally normal. I love both the idea of home as in being with my family and friends, and also the idea of exploration. I think those two are probably my great interests.

Yo-Yo Ma

The thing that I’ve always been slightly frustrated with, was that the idea of a CD is kind of confined to a material possession that you can put on a shelf. And the idea of music, for me, is always about both the communication and the sharing of content. And so the interactive part is missing.

Yo-Yo Ma

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