A problem solved: How LEGO® bricks helped Donny teach piano

A problem solved: How LEGO® bricks helped Donny teach piano

As he was sat at his grand piano, pressing down gently on the keys, Donny Chen never imagined that one day he would be the designer of a real-life LEGO® set.

He works as a piano teacher and a professional piano tuner in Melbourne, Australia and is a dedicated father and husband.

Unlike many AFOLs (Adult Fans Of LEGO), Donny never owned any LEGO sets as a child because they were expensive for his family. It wasn’t until he landed his first job around 11 years ago that he purchased his very first LEGO set: the LEGO Technic Off-Roader – a display truck that still lives on his shelf.

“Back then I was just amazed by all the functionalities and gears and motions that were developed.”

That’s when his love affair with LEGO building began.

Going beyond the instructions

“The exciting thing about building with LEGO bricks...you can build the sets by following the instructions, but you can also build...completely different stuff. That’s the joy that I have when working with LEGO sets, the unlimited possibilities.”

It just so happens that he’s extremely talented at making his own creations. So talented that he went on to become the fan designer of the LEGO Ideas Grand Piano, the largest LEGO Ideas set to date with over 3,000 pieces.

Donny designing the original LEGO Grand Piano

It’s intricately designed with working functions and allows you to make music once it’s connected to the free LEGO Powered Up app (so yeah...it’s pretty high-tech).

How his idea came about

Grand Piano

Average rating4.3out of 5 stars

“When I teach piano, some of the very young kids always ask me questions about what’s inside the piano.”<br>

A way to teach theory, without having to take his own piano apart every time Donny wanted to find a solution – but he didn’t know that he would end up building it with LEGO bricks.

That is, until he discovered LEGO Ideas, a place where fans can submit an original design for a chance for it to be turned into a real LEGO set. His wife encouraged him to enter... and his grand piano design went on to receive enough votes and won!

Since then, Donny has been featured in Forbes and was also invited to the LEGO headquarters in Denmark to meet with LEGO Ideas designers – an experience he will cherish forever.

After a lot of hard work, dedication and creativity, he found a way to help his students – while also achieving something incredible for himself.

Why he loves to build

“I think there are different ways to appreciate LEGO bricks – some people actually appreciate them...as a display piece. Other people actually like to create things...I’m one of them.”

Donny sees LEGO building as form of problem solving.

“Making your own creation is like you’re playing with a puzzle game. You have a very clear goal of what you want to achieve...and then you have all the LEGO elements as your pieces – you just have to find the right combinations to achieve your goal.”

For adults who are new to LEGO building, Donny recommends starting with a medium-sized set made up of around 1000 pieces.

He tends to build late at night after work once his son and wife are asleep and he’ll create things for 1-3 hours to wind down and take some well-deserved ‘me’ time.

Donny takes a practical approach when it comes to LEGO bricks, like using bricks to fix something that’s broken in his house. “It’s not just a toy for kids. It’s just pure creativity for all age groups.”

Donny at a LEGO brick convention

Taking time for self-care is important – whether it’s building with LEGO bricks, doing a crossword, painting or journaling, there’s nothing quite like accomplishing something that brings you joy.

Lately, Donny’s been working on a new and exciting project...but it’s top secret for now.

Looking for more?

Check out the Adults Welcome homepage to see our collection of adult-focused sets and articles!