By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Feb 15, 2005 at 5:22 AM

{image1}When Janet Schiff was seven, she invented a cello out of a coat hanger and a guitar. At 10, she started cello lessons at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music and composed her own music less than a decade later.

Today, Schiff, 32, practices four hours a day, teaches at J.S. Cable Music Instruction Studio in Riverwest and in private homes and routinely gigs for weddings, gallery and business openings, restaurants, private parties and bars.

She is currently part of a cello and piano duo called Schiff and Dz. The two perform every Saturday night at The Mosaic Piano Bar, 2624 N. Downer Ave., from 8 to 10 p.m.

Schiff describes their music as "not exactly rock and not quite classical music either." She plays progressive, chamber rock, electronica, classical and rock, and has sat in with Sigmund Snopek III, Heidi and Llysa Spencer and other musicians.

"I've always listened to rock music and love to jam," she says.

Steady work is important to Schiff, the mother of a 4-year-old son. Plus, everything she earns from gigs is channeled back into her 1913 cello.

"It costs me a small fortune to keep up with the maintenance monthly. All of the money I make performing on cello goes right back into strings, over $100 a set, and repairs. My cello better start paying for itself, fast," she says.

Through Bucketworks, Schiff is also in the early stages of creating the Emergency Orchestra, a multi-media and multi-sensory orchestra of musicians, dancers, actors, techs, artists and technology.

"My goal is to explore alternative notations for music, interpretations, performance and cooperation," she says.

Schiff returned to Milwaukee after leaving for five years and says it's been a good fit for her music this time. She hopes to soon recruit more students now that her son is starting to mature and she has more time. But no doubt about it, motherhood has been as much of an inspiration as an obstacle for Schiff's music.

"One of my cello songs is, 'Sleep and Dream Tonight' and I wrote it as a lullaby for my son. I played it for his kindergarten class last week. Maybe I'll inspire a future musician," she says.

Call (414) 305-3492 for more information about lessons or bookings.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.