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Layla Acharya
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Yo-Yo Ma Masterclass Review

Yo Yo Ma MasterClass Review – Learn The Art of Music

Learning from the best is one of the smartest things we can choose to do, but sometimes, it’s hard to know where to start. It can be overwhelming to decide which class to take or which program will work best for you. You also don’t want to waste your time or money on something that won’t help you achieve your goals. 

Add a cello to that search, and you trim down the number of quality instructors you’ll find out there. MasterClass is here to help. With world-renowned instructors like Yo-Yo Ma, you can learn anything you want from the comfort of your own home. 

You won’t find a better opportunity than this to learn from one of the greatest cellists in history. So, if you’re wondering if you’ll learn a thing or two, read on and enjoy this Yo Yo Ma MasterClass review.

All About MasterClass

MasterClass is an online platform that offers courses taught by world-renowned instructors—predominantly established and successful individuals. The company was founded in 2015 by Aaron Rasmussen and David Rogier, and it has quickly become one of the most popular ways to learn new skills. One of the reasons for MasterClass‘s success is its focus on quality.

Unlike other online learning platforms, MasterClass only works with the best instructors in the world. It includes prominent figures such as Yo-Yo Ma, Margaret Atwood, and Francis Ford Coppola. Students of MasterClass courses can be confident that they are getting quality, industry-relevant, and expert information.

In addition to its focus on quality, MasterClass also offers a wide range of courses, covering everything from cooking to acting. This means that there is something for everyone, regardless of their interests or experience level.

Overall, MasterClass has been highly successful due to its focus on quality, variety, and affordability. And with new instructors being added all the time, there is no sign of this success slowing down any time soon.

Who is Yo-Yo Ma?

Yo-Yo Ma Portrait

Yo-Yo Ma was born in Paris, France, to Chinese parents and showed signs of prodigious talent from a young age. At five, he gave his first public recital and later moved to New York City with his family, where he made his Carnegie Hall debut at nine. 

He studied at the Juilliard School under Leonard Rose and János Scholz, before graduating from Harvard University in 1977 with a degree in humanities. He received the prestigious Avery Fisher Prize in 1978 and an honorary doctorate in music from Harvard in 1991.

Ma is well-known for his incredible technique and deep sound. His frequent collaborations with musicians and artists from many different genres, cultures, and media revitalized traditional music and helped to expand its audience.

After the success of his debut with the cello, Yo-Yo Ma became well-known for performing and recording the standard cello repertoire, as well as receiving an impressive number of contemporary commissions. 

Yo-Yo Ma frequently played in a trio with pianist Emanuel Ax and violinist Young-Uck Kim, as well as in a quartet with Ax and Isaac Stern. The recordings of Ma and Ax of Ludwig van Beethoven’s sonatas (1985) and Johannes Brahms’ sonatas (1991) were highly praised.

The six suites for unaccompanied cello by Johann Sebastian Bach were particularly interesting to Ma. They are challenging masterpieces that he learned to play as a child. 

In 1983, he recorded them, and then again in 1998 with a series of six films that interpreted the suites. For this project, Ma collaborated with artists from different areas, such as choreography, landscape architecture, ice skating, film directing, and Kabuki theater.

In the summer of 2018, Ma recorded the suites once more and began a tour across the world. Each stop included what Ma referred to as a “day of action,” in which he met with local activists, artists, community leaders, and students to consider the effect of culture. He performed the six suites live on television in 2020 to commemorate those who had perished from COVID-19 during the pandemic.

As an instructor for MasterClass, Yo-Yo Ma draws on his vast experience to teach students everything from how to hold their bow to how to find their unique voice. His classes are intimate and personal, and he takes great care to ensure that each student feels comfortable and engaged.

His passion for music is evident in every lesson, and his ability to connect with students makes him an ideal instructor.

Overview of the Class

Masterclass Lessons with Yo-Yo Ma

The Yo-Yo Ma MasterClass spans 12 video lessons, running for a total of 1 hour and 55 minutes. But don’t be fooled by the short duration. The whole course is inspiring, gives a refreshed look, and provides a guide to creating and performing your brand of music.

The center of Yo-Yo Ma’s philosophy is this: Human Expression vs. Human Perfection. Throughout his lessons, he emphasizes being able to express yourself through music and connecting with your audience versus playing for yourself.

In a nutshell, Ma tackles his MasterClass through these three key pillars: developing creativity, balancing structure and emotion, and collaborating for success in music and life. 

Developing Creativity

Ma discusses the difference between “human expression” and “human perfection.” He argues that we should strive for expression rather than human perfection in our music-making. Striving for perfection often leads to rigidity and a lack of creativity, while striving for expression leads to openness and creativity.

Balancing Structure and Emotion

Ma talks about the importance of finding the right balance between structure and emotion in music and life. Too much structure can lead to a lack of creativity, while too much emotion can lead to chaos. Finding the right balance is essential for creating beautiful music and living a fulfilling life.

Collaborating for Success in Music and Life

Finally, he talks about the importance of collaboration in music. He believes music is not meant to be played in a vacuum but is to be shared with others. Collaboration allows us to learn from each other and create something more significant than we could have made on our own.

In summary, in Yo-Yo Ma’s MasterClass, you will: 

  • Understand Yo-Yo Ma’s perspective on music and human connection
  • Discover your calling and purpose in music
  • Bridge the old and the new by understanding and appreciating classical and modern music
  • Understand that music is an emotional experience, and this guide will teach you how to express that
  • Create visual feelings when you play
  • Create beautiful music with other musicians
  • Find the unison between art and science
  • Understand the impact of music in our everyday lives

Pros and Cons

What are the Pros and Cons on YO Yo Ma Masterclass


  • Learn from one of this generation’s masters of the cello—insightful and relatable
  • The course is filled with various lessons to maintain your interest throughout
  • No matter your background, you’ll have takeaways
  • The course introduces more innovative and non-traditional ideas in music
  • Ma relates music to everyday life for better appreciation
  • Workbooks/homework are great add-ons
  • Enjoy high-quality renditions and intimate musical performances
  • Get into the mind of Yo-Yo Ma, his life, and his experiences


  • Ma simplified the course, leaving out a lot of technical aspects

Who is This Class For?

Yo-Yo Ma's MasterClass Summary

The Yo-Yo Ma MasterClass is for anyone who loves music and wants to learn from one of the best. The class is full of interesting insights and lessons that are easy to follow, making it an excellent choice for anyone, from beginners to seasoned musicians. 

Ma ensures that each student feels comfortable and engaged. His passion for music is evident in every lesson.

Specifically, the below groups may be the ones who will appreciate his class the most:

  • Avid followers of Yo-Yo Ma.
  • Musicians who are having trouble with creativity, collaboration, and conveying their emotions on stage.
  • Musicians who are focusing on other genres but want a basic understanding of classical music.

This is a great introduction if you’re not a musician but are still interested in learning about music. This class will be completely understandable and relatable.

How Much Does the Class Cost?

MasterClass is a platform that offers a yearly all-access pass. This means you can take this Yo-Yo Ma Masterclass and access other great classes from different instructors on various topics.

All-access passes are priced according to the number of individuals using the platform. The single (1-device) pass costs $180 per year. If you want access for a significant other or best buddy, expect to pay approximately $240. 

However, if you’d like the whole family or a group to enjoy MasterClass access, the family pass allows access to up to 6 devices for just $276 per year.

Users’ Experiences 

Yo Yo Ma Masterclass User Reviews

Those who have shared their feedback from Yo-Yo Ma’s MasterClass have stated a key theme—his approach, more than the music, was how the course was made applicable and relatable to life.

You usually find that once a person has reached the pinnacle of their craft, they find the purpose and connection with what they do and how they live in general. Many of the concepts Ma shared were genuinely insightful and beautiful. Many users said there should be more classes like this one.

Overall, the users’ general experiences with Ma’s course have been overwhelmingly positive.