Attending Harvard instead of a conservatory was the single best thing that ever happened to me. I started meeting people who were at least as passionate about their fields as I may have been about mine. It opened up new worlds,” he continued. “It made me get out of myself and think about music as it related to the world, in a very different way than if I had just concentrated on my scales and exercises. It made me much less neurotic. Performances were no longer the only thing in the world. My whole life didn’t depend on the success or failure of a performance, and I could see that there were other things that I could be if I were not a musician.

-Yo Yo Ma

I continue to encourage anyone who will listen to go first to a university and only later to a conservatory. Get a well rounded education. Understand that there are so many incredible things to learn. It’s not all about sitting in a reed room or at the piano for 6 hours a day!

The quote is from an article by Tim Page about those talented kids (mostly about Jackie Evancho) and is worth a look-see.

I’m gonna guess he’s going to get a lot of harsh words. I once tweeted something (without even mentioning her name) just a bit curious about her talent and boy did I get harsh tweets back. People love their Evancho and there is no telling them anything negative. They will bash you.


  1. I agree with this, but I think the converse is also true — I wish somebody had strongly encouraged me to continue playing the oboe when I attended an elite university, even if music wasn’t to be my main focus. I came to regret dropping the oboe in college, something I’ve only now started to rectify 20+ years later …

  2. I do try to encourage my students to keep playing, but sadly most let it go. (Some have parents who actually don’t allow them to continue.)

    I do wish I had continued to play piano in addition to oboe. Ah well …

  3. Well, it’s never too late, right? Or at least that’s my theory and I’m sticking with it . . .

  4. Stick to it, Bill! I most definitely agree with you!