Tips from Yo-Yo Ma

3 goals for the successful musician

Know Something Deeply

In our age of specialization, you want to know something deeply so you have your own niche. Know a tradition deeply—be passionate about it.

Be Flexible

Because people roam around, you want to have enough flexibility and knowledge to be able to sit down with anybody from any other tradition and make it work. You have to understand not only the values of your own tradition but to also know what are the values in another, which means you have to be able to know the other. You have to be able to have analytical skills; you have to be open-minded to be able to do that.


Be Accessible

You want to be able to transmit what you know from your tradition to somebody else without your being there, so they can do it without your being there.

*This article appeared in Strings May 2009