Tag Archives: rock the cello

Soapbox Summer Songwriters Workshop Wrap-up

2012 summer songwriters wrap-up

At the end of June, Soapbox Music partnered with Rock The Cello to host a first-ever week-long summer songwriting workshop for middle school students at the Chicago Waldorf School and Soapbox Music in Logan Square.   


The workshop itself was envisioned as an experiment– an investigation into the possibilities at the intersection of teaching and creativity.     Organizers asked themselves and camp participants a series of questions:  What is a song?   What are some approaches to creating a new one?  How can this process be made collaborative?   Everyone involved had a great time and learned a lot– whether about writing songs, micing string instruments, or the logistics of summer camps and large-group CTA rides.

Read more at http://www.soapboxchicago.com/blog/2012-summer-songwriters-wrap

practicing singing and playing cello

I’ve been struggling a lot with this recently.  It’s my next cello goal, and Black Tie Elephant songs will start to incorporate some vox.   I made a first attempt last week at a farewell celebration for my boss Jeff at CWS —  playing and singing ‘I’ll follow the sun’  by The Beatles.  I was really nervous — the whole simultaneous sing/play thing takes me waaaay out of my performing element.   Which is a good thing, I’ve realized!! 

I’ve been able to sing and play guitar or piano for many years,  but it’s MUCH more demanding on cello.   First, you have to think about the arrangement — unlike guitar, cello is pretty much non-chording, so cello line needs to be arranged to play the missing note (or two notes) in the chord: notes that aren’t being sung.  Then, you have to work on your bowing,  making sure there is independence between repetitive bow pattern and vocal rhythms.  This is similar to practice strumming patterns on guitar.   Then the real tricky bit:  double stop pitch.   Unless you’re playing an open string, there is no fixed pitch to rely on!  No frets, no keys :/   Intonation is really disorienting!  Right now I’m practicing listening for open strings and using them as tonal anchors as much as I can.  Even doing so, double stops are killer.  It’s hard to know which notes need to adjust! 

But when you get it down, like singing and playing guitar it’s a really liberating experience, so it’s totally worth the practice! 

Songwriting & Recording Workshop is full!

The first week-long Summer Songwriting & Recording Workshop at Chicago Waldorf School and Soapbox Music June 25 – 29 filled all available spots this week! We’re looking forward to an exciting time of listening, music-making and writing, and then to an awesome time recording our new songs with Zirafa at Soapbox! Expect surprise guest songwriters 🙂