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 grew up on Milwaukee's East Side and today, she lives in the Walker's Point neighborhood with her partner and two sons.

As a full time senior writer, editorial manager and self-described experience junkie, Molly has written thousands of articles about Milwaukee (and a few about New Orleans, Detroit, Indianapolis, Boston and various vacation spots in Wisconsin) that range in subject from where to get the best cup of coffee to an in-depth profile on the survivors of the iconic Norman apartment building that burned down in the '90s.

She also once got a colonic just to report on it, but that's enough on that. 

Always told she had a "radio voice," Molly found herself as a regular contributor on FM102, 97WMYX and 1130WISN with her childhood radio favorite, Gene Mueller.

Molly's poetry, essays and articles appeared in many publications including USA Today, The Writer, The Sun Magazine and more. She has a collection of poetry, "Topless," and is slowly writing a memoir.

In 2009, Molly won a Milwaukee Press Club Award. She served as the Narrator / writer-in-residence at the Pfister Hotel from 2013-2014. She is also a story slam-winning storyteller who has performed with The Moth, Ex Fabula and Risk!

When she's not writing, interviewing or mom-ing, Molly teaches tarot card classes, gardens, sits in bars drinking Miller products and dreams of being in a punk band again.