Solo sessions w/ Hans Zimmer/Anže Rozman, League of Legends w/ Seb Najand, Sony Masterworks w/ Inon Zur. Live w/ Eminem, Camila Cabello, Troye Sivan, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Grey. TV with Hallmark, FX, WB, Apple TV's New Music Daily, Ellen DeGeneres Show.
Hey there, thanks so much for checking out my profile!
I am a freelance cellist, and my favorite part of the job is session work. I combine several years of experience working in LA, conservatory performance training, and contemporary writing & production training from Berklee to create stellar tracks for my client's productions.
I am proficient in the current versions of Logic and Pro Tools. I can arrange parts for solo cello, cello stacks/OD, and full string section that are sensitive to the mix from a theory perspective and also from a frequency and imaging perspective. My workflow is just that - it is an intelligent flow, it is organic, it trusts the creative process, it trusts my collaborators.
Above all, I strive to listen closely and express honestly. There hasn't been a project yet in my career where I can't understand where my clients are coming from. My best quality is that I care about the intrinsic motivation for your work and I think that separates me from the pack. In my audio samples you'll find a highlight reel of recent work. Drop me a line any time. I'm friendly, responsive, and flexible, and I can't wait to make music with you!
Would love to hear from you. Click the contact button above to get in touch.
28 Reviews - 4 Repeat ClientsEndorse Michelle Packman, cello
Michelle's talent, dedication and creativity blew me away! I had an unusual song, and she jumped right in. She was very easy to work with, and contributed so much above and beyond my expectations. I am absolutely thrilled with the results!
Michelle is a world-class cellist. Her outstanding talent will bring your songs to life with passion and grace. She is a great collaborator and easy to work with. I look forward to working with her again!
Michelle was very friendly and professional. You can tell she is very dedicated to the feeling and emotion behind the music she creates. My track turned out better than I could have imagined. It captures the emotions and flow I was going for so perfectly! Hiring her was one of the best decisions I've made for my music!
Michelle is an absolute Pro. Always thrilled with what she sends back! 5 stars!
Michelle is an A-lister pro. She took a simplistic chord chart and wrote a lush arrangement in the style I wanted all while making a tight deadline.
From the melodic phrasing to the inflections in her playing, the work she turned in was stunning. Super cool communication too.
Will definitely work with again. Thanks Michelle.
Top top work by Michelle. She has really made an effort to get into the project and this has made it all the more enjoyable. Will be working together again shortly
Michelle is amazing! Her recordings are awesome and she gave me layers and layers of cello and strings for my songs. She really enhanced my music and I'm looking forward to working with her on more stuff.
Michelle is a great collaborator to work with. Her playing is superb, she's a great communicator and she brings genuine artistry to her work. Looking forward to collaborating again!
Just finished another project with Michelle. She is a consummate professional. Michelle plays exactly what the song needs. She has a real sense of what to play for pop music. Michelle was also willing and able to do this very last minute for me. She made it possible for me to meet a deadline on a last minute job which I really appreciate. I can't recommend Michelle enough. 5 stars!
Michelle strives to give you the best possible performance for your project. Would definitely recommend working with her.
Inspired by a recent article in the LA Times, I had written a pop song about a stolen cello. I recorded acoustic guitar, vocals, bass and drums. I decided the track needed some professional cello playing to bring it all together. I found Michelle on SoundBetter and sent her the track. She agreed to give it a go. What Michelle did was beyond remarkable and exceeded anything I could have imagined. Her playing was brilliant. She transformed the song. Absolutely brilliant. Thank you Michelle!
Another great session with Michelle. She was great getting the soft subtleties the song needed as well as the big bombastic moments. Michelle even added a beautiful little section as an outro that wasn't even asked for. She completely over delivered. Fantastic 5 star experience.
If you're looking for a professional, talented and creative cello player to play your music, look for Michelle. Very good pitch, beautiful vibrato, high quality tracks and really good at giving different emotions to the cello part. A trained musician and a creative artist to work with. Thank you!
Michelle is a master of the cello. She came up with and played outstanding parts that took the song to new heights. Great communication from the start. Total Professional. Excited to work with her on future projects. 5 stars isn't enough.
Michelle provided me cello solo and string section recordings. Very good job. I hope that I have a chance to co-operate with her again someday.
Michelle Packman is an amazing cellist who adds parts that really add to the song. She has great tone, and her phrasing is superb. She’s quick and great with communication during the tracking process. I would highly recommend her for any string work you may need.
Incredible musician, great work ethic, easy to work with, and worth every penny.
Excellent with fast turn around. Would not hesitate to use her again!
Michelle masters the cello with elegance and depth. I'm officially a fan of her artistry. I worked with Michelle on a singer-songwriter track and requested for her creative input. Communication was smooth from start to finish. Michelle delivered astounding work in a short amount of time. I had plenty of options to play with which was great for me. She certainly exceeded my expectations. I'm so pleased!
Always really great to work with! Amazingly talented!
Great cellist and super timely :)
Michelle did everything I asked of her. Good playing, good sound, good communication. Thanks, Michelle.
Michelle did a great job! I'm so thankful for her work, and willingness to share her talents with us!
Michelle is an incredible musician with really a beautiful tone. Always quick+perfect side-reading. She is my go-to cellist, top improvising and arranging skills as well. Highly recommended, 5 stars are not enough!
Michelle was s pleasure to work with. She gave me 12 world class, layered performances, a complete symphonic cello section, perfectly timed and recorded in an excellent studio for a mere 100 dollars: an unheard of value.
Working with Michelle is such a pleasure. Her cello tracks always sound great with sophisticated phrasing and the recording quality is great! Highly recommend her.
I had the pleasure of working with Michelle on one of my tracks. Great performance and I was very happy with the end results. Recommended.
Michelle Packman play in my client album the cello! It was fantastic execution, exactly as I thought!
Thanks, Michelle ! I would love to work with you again.
Interview with Michelle Packman, cello
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: I'm not sure, is this your style? I can pretty much play any style. I'm a little limited with jazz improvisation but I studied jazz theory at Berklee so I can write good lines if necessary. I've never been asked for jazz yet though. :P
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: Cello means SO many different things to different people. Some raised in classical music see it as a upper double of bass and the occasional soloist, those with a more contemporary mindset see the possibilities it has as a rhythm section instrument, others see it for it's tonal qualities and are happier with long tones than moving lines. That's why it really helps to have some inspiration tracks if you have something specific in mind so I can get the idea of what cello means to you.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: Pretty standard stuff. One thing that is different for a cellist than for most instrumentalists is that I take up a lot of space with my bow movements and instrument, so I can't sit right by my computer for tracking. It's a little like church, so it takes more time for people like us with big acoustic instruments to track. Good thing to keep in mind if you like to get stuff right away. It takes me so much more time to track cello than it does to track vocals, guitar, piano, etc.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I'm lucky enough to have a dedicated building for recording, with acoustic paneling and good diffusion. My main mics are my Microtech Gefell M300s. (A bit of history, Microtech Gefell and Neumann were one in the same until the Berlin Wall separated the businesses in 1961.) For my instrument needs, I think MG has outdone Neumann with reducing proximity effect, which is a huge problem with cello. I've tested about 50 mics or so for my cello and the MG mics are top of my list. For my USB interface, I use the Focusrite Clarett 18i8. I'm a little bit of a perfectionist so all of my cables are LyxPro Star Quad balanced XLRs. My cello is a 1999 William Harris Lee, Chicago, and my bow is Jerome Abriel, won some fancy bow making competition.... It's just a nice bow.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: Big fan of the seasoned pros who post online tutorials for free. Youtube is collectively my treasure trove of info.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: I split my work pretty evenly between live performance and session recording, my typical work comes from composers who want to replace samples that are too exposed and don't pass as real or don't have true expressive quality. I have a few producers out here that have a close working relationship with me so it's fun to go to their studios and have a writing session. It's pretty cool when producer offer you writers credit even though I'm a string player. I've never asked for that and usually don't. I also work with pop producers and singer-songwriters remotely in a more creative fashion by writing and producing string lines and stacks.
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I love working with pop producer, Ariza. He and I flow pretty well and I'm excited to learn more about production as I record and he does his thing. Check out some of these in my highlight reel.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: It's a pretty constant flow of remote work. Producing some original solo stuff as well.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: Tuomas Norjanen, composer. Jonas Petersen, composer/producer ("You deserve an orchestra"), Kiara Ana Perico, violinist. They are all fantastic!
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Analog sound, digital workflow.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: Love, quality, perfectionism, flexibility. I don't stop until things are right.
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: My easiest and most streamlined work is when I get a wav with embedded tempo map, or mp3 with audible click, plus pdf parts and clear performance notes with required sample rate, etc. If anything is left out, that's fine, it will just increase delivery time.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: The thought of sand and salty air on equipment makes me cringe. Can I take an anechoic chamber?
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: Started at 8 on violin, switched to cello at 12, played jazz guitar, flute briefly, studied piano for my performance degree. I started out strictly in an orchestral setting, but I'm 32 now and rarely play in orchestras, unless it's a scoring session. Most of my work is solo for remote clients, or small ensemble/pop performances. My first arrangement and recording was a 6-song EP when I was 12, with an awful midi keyboard (recorded on floppy disk!!) and acoustic cello on my dad's TLM 103. I think they were actually Disney songs. Funny memories!
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Mellow, expressive, plaintive.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Honestly my favorite projects are with people I already really respect and admire. If I can just keep those up, that's the most gratifying thing.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Let's talk about micing! It's something producers really don't treat with enough care, especially with acoustic string instruments. Be really careful with proximity, especially with larger diaphragm (~1"+) condensers, usually need to be at least a foot away. For mono recordings, cardioid is best. Use your chosen mic close to the bridge, on the player's right side, angled towards the right f-hole of the cello, never directly at the strings. You can place it on the player's left, as long as it's out of the way of the bow, you'll get slightly more high-mids there. It's good to keep in mind, the lower frequencies of the cello resonate in all directions but the highs only project up and out in the direction of the mic. The length of the fundamental frequency of the lowest note (c2) at equal temperament is approx 5.3 meters or 17.31 feet. For solo recordings, that figure 8, blumlein pair is all you need. Cello sounds best when it makes people feel tiny like ants :) For electric cello, the best electric hands down is the NS design CR series. A direct signal combined with a mic on the bridge (tweak of course for balance) produces a beautiful consistent tone because you don't have different frequencies projecting in different directions. I have recorded this way with Riot Games for League of Legends and the results are stunning! (Check it out in my highlight reel!)
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: I know it sounds really cheesy but my strongest skill is my love for what I do, even when I'm busy, sick, tired, etc. If you have serious commitment, all other skills flow from that. I'll stay up until sunrise to make things right if I'm on a tight deadline. Nothing is ever just "good enough". That's not real love.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: Lushness, fullness. Cello has a pretty rich frequency spectrum. Not the best for mixes that don't have room in the low end.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: There is never a typical setting. I can do orchestral, cinematic, hip hop, rock, pop, indie, folk.... really anything.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: I feel most people's conception of cello is very limited. I try to provide options and advice when I am asked or believe it is appropriate. Strings can of course produce beautiful, lush sounds, but they can also be heavy, gritty, soulful, etc.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: Session work. If I could do one thing for the rest of my life, it would be session work.