Yo-Yo Ma: Providing Musical Comfort in A Time of Crisis

Monday, March 23, 2020
yo-yo ma interview on music in a crisis


Yo-Yo Ma and the Power of Music in a Crisis

Watch the video, read the summary and answer the discussion questions. And be sure to check out the #SongsOfComfort video activity below for your students–and perhaps you, too! Follow along with the news transcript here.

 #5 Top News Lesson of 2020

*If you are making plans for distance learning, take a look at our list of PBS resources which covers a variety of subjects. To watch individual segments from the latest NewsHour episode, click here



Yo-Yo Ma, one of the world’s most renowned and beloved musicians, is trying to provide comfort in this time of crisis. Ma has been posting videos of himself performing short pieces and encouraging other musicians — of all levels — around the world to join him in offering “Songs of Comfort.” Ma joins Jeffrey Brown to discuss the project and play Dvorak.

Yo-Yo Ma Discussion Questions

  1. Essential question: Why do you think music and art provide a source of comfort for people during a crisis?
  2. In the interview, Yo-Yo Ma stated:”When I was 19, I had a teacher who said, Yo-Yo, you haven’t found your voice.And I said, OK. And so I kept looking for my voice. And I think my voice is in finding the needs of others and then representing them. And that’s — and so, everywhere I go, it’s always about finding what people are thinking, feeling, how they think about themselves in the world.”
    • What do you think Ma’s teacher meant by “You haven’t found your voice”? Why do you think he/she said this to Ma? Do you think you are finding your voice? How so? Why is it okay if you have not found your voice yet?
  3. To echo what Jeffrey Brown said: “We at the ‘NewsHour’ want to join and encourage people to send in their own videos to #SongsofComfort, post them on Twitter, or Instagram, Facebook, wherever.”
    • Please have your students (check with parent/family member!) submit their video using the hashtag #SongsofComfort and @NewsHour and remember what Ma said:”We’re collecting what is personal, what is true, what is trustworthy, what is community, because community is nothing, except what is based on trust.”
    • Email Victoria at [email protected], if you have any questions!

This article was originally published by PBS NewsHour Extra and can be found here.