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Yo-Yo Ma on how musicians can ‘rebuild our humanity’ during the pandemic

When Yo-Yo Ma was asked what he’d say to musicians who had seen their gigs dry up due to the coronavirus pandemic, he said music makers and other artists can act on the “one-on-one principle.”

“As a musician, your job — our job — is to actually move one person at a time,” Ma told the PBS NewsHour’s Amna Nawaz.

READ MORE: Yo-Yo Ma’s heartfelt call to action to artists during the pandemic

Ma said to pick a person that you may or may not know — maybe it’s someone who’s ill, stuck at home, or having to work during the crisis — who “may need what you do as a service.” He suggested that a musician play something for this person, record themselves performing it, along with adding a personal message, and then send it to them.

Ma said artists can build from that — reaching out to one another during this crisis.

“That’s how we rebuild our humanity,” he added.


“Beyond the CANVAS” showcases some of the nation’s leading cultural creators — musicians, playwrights, comedians, among many others — who show us how they turn their visions of the world into art. Watch the new series, every Sunday, at 10:30 p.m. Eastern on PBS or streaming on artscanvas.org.

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