A Revolution In Sheet Music

I always take a cautious approach to free downloads or other “freebies” courtesy of the Internet. After all, nothing comes free; if it does, then there must be a catch.

And yet, the Internet has opened up many legitimate avenues, including downloading content where the copyright has ceased. In such instances, the content comes under the Creative Commons License and anyone can download it.

For the classical musician, the opportunities can seem staggering. Maybe frightening. A touch of guilt over getting something for nothing?

I’ve started rebuilding my collection of piano scores – digitally, this time. The Liszt Hungarian Rhapsodies. Late Beethoven piano sonatas. Chopin Scherzos.

It feels exciting but scary. So many choices. So little time to practise everything. And free, of course, but costly in other ways. The Internet offers much, but it also causes a great deal of stress and a lack of rest.

The pros and cons.

Personally, I would prefer to pursue the countless opportunities available through the Internet. Stress matters, obviously, but stress would exist regardless of the Internet. In the meantime, I will continue practising the piano – and downloading major piano repertoire.

Till next time.


My Story In Pictures

I found some old docs and photos recently while dusting and tidying and thought I would make digital copies to share online. After all, everyone has a story.

Shortly before I left Devon to study music in London:

A few years after arriving in London, just before playing the piano for a Supper Club in Golders Green, north London:

Shortly after arriving in London, I won the Fritz Gottlieb Memorial Scholarship for Piano (patrons Vladimir Ashkenazy, Richard Baker, Daniel Prenn), and I studied with Vera Yelverton for two years:

I gave regular piano recitals, including a recital made up entirely of solo Chopin at the venue below:

Fast forward a few years, and I made a CD and published my autobiography, My Musical Journey

You can access the abridged version of My Musical Journey at http://mypianobio.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading

A Live Recording, Lawrence Estrey, Piano

A few months ago, I posted the following article. Today, I recorded a live performance and converted the tracks to YouTube videos. For once, readers will get to hear my voice and an English accent.

A Stand Up Musician – Sort Of

We’ve all seen or heard stand up comedians. They get up and do a slot in venues, gaining valuable experience and exposure.

In the past few months, I’ve been working on an equivalent in small settings in suburban north London, UK. Generally, I do a mixture of classical piano and ragtime, lasting between seven and thirteen minutes.

If the mood is right, I’ll start with the third movement from Beethoven’s fourth Sonata in E-flat, then follow with the Maple Leaf Rag by Scott Joplin. I might end with a popular like I Love Paris by Cole Porter or add another short classical piece (time permitting). Chopin works sometimes, but not always. Each audience is different.

I enjoy these opportunities to share my piano playing with others and I value the chance to begin with a technically challenging Beethoven movement, which people always seem to appreciate.

Till next time.

Chopin, The Piano, And Indie Artists

The music industry. Competitive.

Few make it. Few even get their music heard.

Times have changed, though. The Internet has opened up possibilities for aspiring musicians – for example, Indie Music sites and streaming sites where musicians can upload their work.

Obviously, these sites don’t guarantee success, but they do give artists the chance to showcase their work. Opportunities like these didn’t exist a couple of decades ago.

This week, I uploaded two Chopin preludes to IndieSound. I am the soloist. When I first came to London, I won the Fritz Gottlieb Memorial Scholarship for Piano and studied all twenty-four Chopin preludes, along with other solo repertoire by Chopin. The music industry is tough, but I still practice the piano and seek out new possibilities.

Meanwhile, I continue to write poetry and would like to start work on another novel at some point.

Still studying French, German, and Russian.

Czerny, Powerful Stuff

Recently, I got a bit of a scare. I woke up to a bout of vertigo, caused by a viral infection as a result of the unusually hot and muggy summer.

Obviously, I didn’t feel like playing the piano for a few days, so I took a break.

At around this time, I discovered that the fourth and fifth fingers of my right hand had stopped functioning at their normal level.

They lacked strength now and I found executing musical trills and piano passages requiring precision difficult to bring off correctly.

What had happened?

Admittedly, I feared a debilitating medical condition. After all, the combination of light-headedness from the vertigo and the weakened fingers would create worry for most people.

Worse, each time I typed at the computer, I became aware of the less than perfect finger strength.

The solution?

For years, I have used Czerny short exercises for piano to build up technical expertise, preferring them to scales and arpeggios.

Concerned, I worked on several of the Czerny exercises, noting when the finger work suffered. Always the fourth and fifth fingers and always the right hand.

Finally, I discovered the root of the problem.

For some reason, I had begun curling the little finger during the previous few weeks. Each time I did, I compromised the usual level of agility, thus giving the impression of the fingers not working.

I remedied the problem, and my playing is back to normal, but occasional traces of the vertigo remain, hopefully not for long.

Till next time.

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.

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.

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.

The Blog, Nine Years On

Nine years ago, I started a WordPress blog. Somehow, I’ve managed to continue posting regularly, several times a month, for nearly a decade.

I don’t always know what to blog about. Some people would say, “blog about whatever is on your mind”. I think this probably works as a general principle. Whatever the case, I look forward to many more years of blogging.

I’m also working on a sister blog, a musical autobiography based on my piano training and musical journey. I eventually hope to publish some of the posts as a paperback.