MyPianoBio Blog – A Year On (2), On Stage

Just over a year ago, I started a blog about my life as a musician. Several months later, I published the material as an autobiography – My Musical Journey by Lawrence Estrey, available as a paperback and ebook from online sellers and through order at major UK bookshops.

This entry focuses on my training with an international concert pianist who coached me free of charge for two years:

I’d been in London nearly two and a half years, and lived in the downstairs of a house in Palmers Green. Life remained a series of ups and downs – unexpected opportunities and new friendships alternating with periods of uncertainty.

When the Fritz Gottlieb Memorial Scholarship came to an end, Vera Yelverton and I parted company on good terms and the international concert pianist I’d met in East Finchley agreed to take me on next, free of charge.

Under her supervision, I studied Chopin studies, Bach’s Chromatic Fantasie and Fugue, Debussy’s Estampes, Mendelssohn’s Serieuses Variations op54, and the demanding Liszt Dante Sonata with its octave flying sections and sobbing G minor chords in the middle section.

Apart from the Fugue from the Chromatic Fantasy, I performed all the works from memory. My entire conception of piano playing changed and I finally learnt about the correct use of the wrists. Crucial.

I gave some fifty concerts over a two year period, culminating in another recital at St Lawrence Jewry, Central London. This time, I chose the most technically demanding and psychologically daunting programme to date – Bach’s 2nd Prelude and fugue from book 1, the Serieuses Variations by Mendelssohn and Liszt’s Dante Sonata.

No problems.


MyPianoBio Blog – A Year On

Just over a year ago, I started posting about my life as a musician – hence, the title. A year on, I have reworked the narrative and published it as an autobiography – My Musical Journey by Lawrence Estrey, available as a paperback and ebook from online sellers and through order at major UK bookshops.

The following post is from the original blog and gives a flavour of what to expect in the fuller publication.

Happy reading!

It took a while, but I picked myself up. I met new people and moved to Palmers Green, north London. Summer came, and I took part in a series of piano workshops conducted by Kenneth Van Barthold at Edinburgh University, performing the first movement of Beethoven’s op 111 in the Reid Concert Hall.

September arrived. I’d been in London a year now. In the autumn, I spent three months at Hoxton Hall in Shoreditch, working on an adaptation of Captain Hook. I helped compose the background music and took part in a minor acting role, although I later pulled of the acting side due to conflicting demands on time. During the three months there, we all did a crash course in basic acting skills, trust exercises, some of which looked terrifying, and stage fighting (which most of the guys enjoyed).

On Stage

At around this time, I gave my first recital at a Methodist church in Palmers Green, north London. The next day, I played Chopin at Hoxton Hall, for a Friday evening crowd. A performance of the entire Beethoven sonata opus 111 followed (from memory) at a soiree held in Vera Yelverton’s study; then more Beethoven at Sutton House, a small concert hall in Hackney.

A Recital In The City

Finally, Central London. I gave a lunchtime recital at St Lawrence Jewry, a Christopher Wren church, playing a programme of the Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven, Schubert’s Impromptu op 90 no 3, Chopin’s 2nd Ballade and Liszt’s 19th Hungarian Rhapsody. Very scary indeed, though successful. A couple of latecomer friends nodded to me just as I was beginning the Moonlight and I experienced a sudden urge to get up and run out – a common feeling amongst performers, I believe!

The Word Spreads

Following a chance meeting and various follow up calls, I contacted an older man who wanted to help promote my musical career. He gave me the number of a man in Essex who asked me to come and give a recital to a small group of people. More recitals followed. Some weeks, I gave two, three, or even four concerts, going from place to place, getting expenses but never a full fee. But I loved it.

In all, I did thirty-three piano recitals that year, performing at St Brides Fleet Street, St Magnus-the-Martyr, St Martin-within-Ludgate and St Annes and St Agnes.

In the summer, I returned to Edinburgh to give a concert at St Mary’s Cathedral as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I also performed a Mozart Concerto (two pianos) at one of the soirees, and occasionally taught a student or two, although the teaching never took off in the same way

In terms of performing, I felt content.

The Local Author, And A High Street Bookstore

Bank Holiday Monday, but many major stores open.

Today, I visited the nearest branch of Waterstones to collect a couple of copies of my latest book My Musical Journey by Lawrence Estrey, an autobiography.

I found it a strange experience. On the one hand, I left the store with a book officially published that is listed in the British Library and available from many bookstores.

On the other hand, I left, aware that I’d published the book as a Print On Demand, meaning I face all the marketing obstacles that self-published authors face. Although major bookstores can and generally will order Print On Demand titles for customers, they will not stock them.

A couple of hours later, I sold a copy.

Pros And Cons

Having gone down the Print On Demand route three times, I feel qualified to offer some advice on the subject.

  • Print On Demand almost certainly guarantees an official publication. Crucial in an industry where competition is rife. Anyone can publish.
  • Print On Demand rarely costs much, although the author may choose to pay for additional services.
  • Requires marketing skills, determination.
  • Mainstream publishers seldom take on Print On Demand books; if they do, they may ask for a re-edit.
  • Dealing with the often unspoken question, “if your book’s that good, then why wasn’t it accepted by a publishing house?”

As you can see, Print On Demand has advantages and disadvantages.

To sum up – if you’re passionate about seeing your voice in print and sharing with readers, go for it. As the old saying goes, the sky’s your limit. (Just don’t expect to get rich.)

Just some of my thoughts.

An Encouraging Moment Along The Way

Indie authors can often feel discouraged. They have no major publishing house backing them and they have to do all the promotional work, including the selling.

This morning, I visited my local bookshop, Muswell Hill Bookshop, to pick up a couple of copies of my latest book, My Musical Journey by Lawrence Estrey, an autobiography. The paperback had arrived at last.

As the title suggests, the narrative centres around my musical studies and Indie career ( although pianist Ashkenazy gets a mention and I win a scholarship shortly after arriving in London, plus give lots of piano recitals).

I think I will need to do a great deal of further work in promoting this book, but seeing my own work in print today gave me an unexpected boost and I think it’s a case of just getting on with things, no matter how easy or difficult.

Meanwhile, readers in many parts of the world can now get the book online or order through major bookshops.

Till next time.

Still Recovering…

A winter cold. This one has been particularly harsh, dampening my mood and the birthday celebrations on St Patrick’s Day. I spent most of St Patrick’s Day in bed before heading to my local pub with friends to celebrate with whisky and wine – although I felt much better in the morning.

I keep busy with work and language studies (French, German, Russian). At the moment, I’m polishing my piano repertoire with the First Polonaise by Franz Liszt.

My third book, My Musical Journey by Lawrence Estrey, is now available as a paperback and online. An autobiography, the book details my musical aspirations and various struggles along the way. Do consider popping over to Amazon to catch a preview on Kindle!

Snow, Cold, And A Wait

Storm EMMA has come and the temperatures have dipped. The snow has settled. Yesterday, I went to work and got back safely. The evening was freezing. The snow remains.

My latest book, an autobiography, My Musical Journey, is now available as an ebook on Amazon Kindle and as a paperback from Amazon (US). I’m still waiting for the booksellers in the UK to stock the book. Another week or so, I expect.

My Musical Journey by Lawrence Estrey

A teenage boy. A piano. Aspirations and ruin.

The narrative touches on a number of topics, including gangs, post traumatic stress, and religion.

The Paperback Arrived Last Night

Well, not exactly. I came home from work at around nine last night, and the books were waiting for me in the hallway.

The proof copies of my autobiography, My Musical Journey by Lawrence Estrey.

Publishing can take a while. I’ve approved the book for distribution – meaning another short wait before the title appears on various bookseller sites.

In the meantime, readers can access the kindle version on amazon.

About My Musical Journey

No spoilers. The narrative touches on a number of themes, revolving around a personal journey that involves huge struggles at times, leaving the author hypothetically viewing half a glass of water (life) as half-full some days and half-empty others.

My Book’s On Kindle

Hi, I’m still waiting for the paperback copy of my book My Musical Journey by Lawrence Estrey, but the eBook version is now available on amazon Kindle.

The book tells my life story, paying particular emphasis to music – in particular, the piano and concert performance.

It feels strange going through the whole self-publishing process a third time, but I think it’s worth it.

Till next time.

Waiting For My New Book

Publishing often involves waiting, and I expect my latest book will be available by the end of the month. Hopefully. I always find the waiting especially difficult.

My Musical Journey by Lawrence Estrey tells my story as a piano player, although parts of the narrative relate to other issues.

The Editing Process – Again

I’ve reached that stage again. The final draft. Meticulous editing. Copy and paste. Spotting double full stops. Subtle grammatical errors. The process seems never ending.

I find writing rewarding, but frustrating at times, as errors seem to creep in, almost unnoticed.

I’m working towards a paperback of my life story, focusing on music and the piano. The book – My Musical Journey by Lawrence Estrey – covers a range of topics, including gangs, religion, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Part of the story takes place in Manchester. In the narrative, music and the piano play a pivotal role, creating a distraction from the chaos all around.

You can catch a taster by visiting my sister WordPress site. The book contains additional material.

I hope you will find the story interesting.