Famous People Who Attended Montessori: Yo Yo Ma


Image credit: Indiana University

Here at Villa di Maria, we know just how amazing Montessori education is – how the freedom within limits philosophy helps each child to develop executive functioning skills, how the “cosmic education” component helps to make the world a better place – we could go on and on! That’s why it is  not surprising that many famous, successful adults attended Montessori school as children. Today, we explore one: United Nations Peace Ambassador, winner of 15 Grammy Awards, and famous cellist: Yo Yo Ma.


Image: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Yo Yo Ma, a former Montessori student himself, says of his daughter’s Montessori experience: “Structure is an absolutely important part of the creative life, and Emily [Yo Yo Ma’s daughter] got this from her Montessori experience.” 

In 2006, when Yo Yo Ma was appointed as a United Nations Messenger of Peace, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said to Mr. Ma, “Over the course of your extraordinary musical career, you have demonstrated time and again your dedication to overcoming cultural differences and bridging gaps between nations and generations.  Through your music, the message of peace can spread far and wide and influence people around the world to focus on harmony and human dignity.” Truly, the Montessori value of global citizenship is clear here!

Mr. Ma has also been known for his strong commitment to educational programs that not only bring young audiences into contact with music, but also allow them to participate in its creation.  While touring, he has taken time to conduct master classes as well as more informal programs for students, and has also reached young audiences through appearances on ArthurMister Rogers’ Neighborhood and Sesame Street.