Let’s Make Music!

At the request of several readers, I’ve decided to bring you along on the adventure of building the Lego Grand Piano my wife gave me for Christmas. I’m hoping this music-making journey amounts to a pleasing “concert” instead of an arduous one.  More akin to Beethoven’s Ode to Joy than Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee. No matter how difficult this “piece” ends up “playing”, I can assure you of one thing.  It’s gonna take me a while; likely beyond when the snow stops flying in Colorado. 3,662 Lego pieces won’t snap together by my next blog post, nor the next one.  I’ll give brief updates at the bottom of my other topics as I progress. Movements if you will, instead of the entire piano concerto all at once.

And with a tap-tap-tap of the conductor’s baton, the performance begins!

To start, we have an elegant 23″ x 15″ x 6″ cardboard box containing our unassembled piano.  The box advertises the piano in three languages: English (Grand Piano), French (Le Piano a Queue), and Spanish (Piano de Cola).  The box cautions I should be over the age of 18 and batteries aren’t included. Batteries? In a grand piano?  But I digress…

The photos on the sides of the box tease the finished product.  First and foremost, the piano really plays once I assemble the several thousand pieces.  I don’t mean “play” as in a hidden music box with a digital soundtrack but “play” as in pressing the piano keys.  And speaking of piano keys, Lego provides only 25.  A real piano has 88.  In other words, the beautiful music my grand piano plays will be more Chopsticks than Chopin.  Makes sense because my Lego Grand Piano is only 12″ wide and 14″ deep.  Suddenly my fingers feel fat.

When I remove that elegant box top, here’s what I see inside:

As expected, the Lego pieces are divided into small plastic bags. (On the left, that is. The right is a smaller box-within-the-box looking like a square piano. We’ll get to that in a minute.)

If I organize the bags so you can see them better, I come up with this:


The audience gasps, in awe of the complexity of the performance unfolding before them.

Okay, NOW I have concerns.  First, the bag numbers start with “10”.  Hey Lego, what happened to 1-9?  Second, Bag 5 showed up among the double-digits like an orphan looking for a family.  Pretty sure Bag 5 belongs securely in that black box to the right.  Maybe Bag 5 was trying to escape.

At this point in the show, the phrase “missing pieces” tickles the pianist’s brain (but not the ivories).

I also find the set of bags in the photo to the right.  I assume they pair with their partner-numbered bags when I get to that part of the concerto.  But maybe they don’t.  Maybe each of them is a little project unto itself.

Little beads of sweat populate the pianist’s forehead.

Yes, I’m nervous. I hastily put the bags back into the box (which suggests I’m already going backward with this project).  But I do want to see what’s inside that black piano-wannabe box to the right.  Have a look:


Well hello Bags 1-9! I also found a few more of those partner-numbered bags.  But check out the disarray in the photo on the right.  Here we have three more orphan bags and, shockingly, a few pieces that escaped their bags.  What’s going on here?

The audience shifts uncomfortably in their seats as the pianist hesitates.

Finally, way at the bottom of the box, we have the pièce de résistance (Spanish: plato fuerte; English: main dish). Well hello, Mr. Instruction Manual.  Weighing in at a hefty 2.2 pounds and boasting 532 pages of mind-numbing steps, Mr. Instruction Manual is easily the heaviest item in the box.  He’s the equivalent of the phone book of a mid-sized city.  Furthermore, the plastic bag he came in included a little slip of paper shouting, “WARNING: To avoid danger of suffocation keep this bag away from babies and children.” Listen Lego, I’m not worried about babies and children; I’m worried about me.  I might be tempted to use that plastic bag to suffocate myself if I can’t complete my Grand Piano.

The pianist makes it this far into the performance without any faux pas’s (English: significant mistakes), but then I choose to open Mr. Instruction Manual to a random page. Terrible decision! Have a look:

Is this not an intimidating drawing? (Why yes, Dave, it is.) Does it look anything like a grand piano? (Why no, Dave, it does not.) Furthermore, you’re looking at Page 221, so we’re not even halfway through the build here.  I’m edging towards terrified, Lego.  Those pieces look small.  Those pieces look many.  And who’s to say the numbered bags make the one piece I’m looking for (amongst 3,361 of its plastic pals) any easier to find?

The pianist still hesitates, his hands shaking noticeably held just above the keyboard.

I wanted to finish this post with a photo of the first couple of pieces snapped together… I really did.  I wanted you to believe my music-making was officially underway.  But let’s be honest, my peek into the box where all those bags, orphans, and escaping pieces live, and the sheer size of Mr. Instruction Manual have me backing away from the keyboard (figuratively, followed by literally).  Sorry folks, tonight’s performance isn’t quite ready for prime time.  This pianist needs to change out of his sweat-drenched tuxedo into more comfortable clothing for now.  Let’s take an intermission, shall we?

The audience heads to the lobby.

Author: Dave

Three hundred posts would suggest I have something to say… This blog was born from a desire to elevate the English language, highlighting eloquent words from days gone by. The stories I share are snippets of life itself, and each comes with a bonus: a dusted-off word I hope you’ll go on to use more often. Read “Deutschland-ish Improvements” to learn about my backyard European wish list. Try “Slush Fun” for the throwback years of the 7-Eleven convenience store. Or drink in "Iced Coffee" to discover the plight of the rural French cafe. On the lighter side, read "Late Night Racquet Sports" for my adventures with our latest moth invasion. As Walt Whitman said, “That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.” Here then, my verse. Welcome to "Life In A Word".

34 thoughts on “Let’s Make Music!”

  1. That’s a lot of bags of stuff. My Lego train had 1,200 parts and only about 8 bags. That took me a good 10 hours to build.

    But just finding the parts can take awhile and that is an impressively sized instruction book.

    Don’t take too long on intermission – you gots work to do …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Believe me, I already see the lights flashing on-off-on-off suggesting intermission is about to be over. Time to dive into Bag 1 before I’m distracted by something else around here.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. SUCH a well-written post, Dave! Putting tiny Legos together might be intimidating, but artfully putting words together? You accomplish that with ease! Here’ hoping that once you start construction, you’ll find that little piano materializing before your eyes and ready to play in rapid time! (Did it come with a little stylus or two for hitting those tiny keys?!)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed this “performance”, Nancy. I think the piano will come together faster than I claim. It’s easy to get into a zone once you start putting pieces together. But I’ll have to get back to you about the stylus. Might be hidden somewhere in all those bags!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Fabulous post, Mr Pianist! Wow – powerfully written, I really felt like I was a little mouse on your shoulder while you were going through the box AND THAT MANUAL – YIKES! I agree, Mr Pianist, the Tuxedo must come off… sip a cocktail tonight, think, plan and start tomorrow! EXCITED to go on this building journey with you!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I thought about getting Jon the Seinfeld lego set for Christmas. His mom got us off-brand lego helmets for our respective schools as an Easter present two years ago and Jon said he wouldn’t wish building one on his worst enemy ha! The pieces were so tiny and not always cut the best, needless to say mine hasn’t been built. We’re saving it for future punishment of our kids, they can build the lego and think about what they did ha 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow, that is intimidating!
    I’m working on ‘Hagrid’s Hut Buckbeak’s Rescue’ right now. Most important thing I learned is only open one bag at a time. Don’t open the next bag until the previous bag is assembled… I sort each bag into piles according to colour, too.
    I ran into some difficulty with the brick that lights up. The directions didn’t make sense to me. So I gave the brick and the manual to hubby. Within about 10 seconds he had the light working, without even looking at the manual…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bricks that light up? (Pause) I don’t think I have any of those, thank goodness. And if the U.S. Capitol Building was any example, I have to open more than one bag at a time to finish a particular section. Sure hope not. I really want to believe the assembly is designed with some sense of logic. I’ll report back, Margy.


      1. Yes, it took 2 bags to finish the first of Hagrid’s huts. The light brick is great – you activate the on switch by pushing on the chimney and the light makes the fireplace glow.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I think I’ll stick with my jigsaw puzzles…..but will be tuning in for the performance! Bravo! Well done! The blog I meant……the Lego is just way too intimidating, and the instruction manual – I really had no idea….Lego has certainly come along way since I bought it last.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Our son gave us a beautiful jigsaw of the Colorado Rockies, which should be a nice respite when I’m buried in Legos. A little music, a glass of wine – jigsaws can be calming if they’re not too difficult. Wish I could say the same about my piano!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. From the looks of it that piano is going to be a challenge. I’ll be posting about jigsaws on Jan 29 national puzzle day….we’ve already done 5 this winter, but then I buy the more colorful 300-500 piece ones for my mother to help her memory. I have a 1000 piece one for myself but it’s mostly white snow. I agree, if it’s too difficult it’s not fun, but it’s the kind of soothing mindless activity which can be addicting. You sit down just intending to put a few pieces in and then an hour goes by…..

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow! I was particularly interested when you went total Chuck Norris and opened Mr. Instruction Manual at a random page. Not many of us good men left, Dave … not many! cheers

    Liked by 1 person

  8. omg Dave, this is hardcore!! Great job so far, on separating the parts. I wouldn’t have had such restraint, I would probably just start trying to make the parts fit.
    and that is why I have no part in that orchestra. I am just going to sit here with some popcorn and watch while you entertain us 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You and my wife would get along great. She bypasses the manual and goes straight to the product every time. Then she asks for my help when she can’t get it to work right. If they included a video instead of a manual, she might fare better 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Excellent post, Dave. Quite possibly your best. As for the project, go slow and carefully, and you’ll have a lot of fun. I’ve built quite a few large Lego sets — some with even more pieces than yours — and they’ve all come out well. My only problem is where to put them when I’m done: after putting in all that effort, I want to display and admire them. I’ve actually had to build new shelves just to hold some of them. I also built a special table just to assemble Lego sets on. Hmmm…I might have gone a bit overboard… 😎

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Our Scheels store has a completed piano on display in its toy section, in a perfectly square acrylic box. Nice way to display it. I might have to shop for one of those when I’m done.


  10. Wow that looks very complicated Dave. Are you doing it to relax, as well as to complete it? Where do you sort it out and leave it between sessions to work on it? My mom loved jigsaw puzzles and would spend hours working on them and the really difficult ones, hours could go by with nary a piece fitted into the puzzle.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll build it on my home office desk, Linda. I have a good amount of space (with a sideboard as well), and it’s a small model. I just have to be careful I don’t open too many pieces at once – they tend to run away!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, you would hate to have all but one piece in the masterpiece! My mom used to worry about that with jigsaw puzzles and used a huge piece of soft Styrofoam board for her 1,000-piece puzzles. We got a new switchboard system at work years ago and I knew that soft Styrofoam board was perfect for puzzles so I brought it home. She would use double-sided tape on the bottom to adhere the perimeter pieces and secure them in place.


  11. I’m worn out just from your description. Assembling a real grand piano cannot possibly be more difficult. I wonder if Steinway has thought of selling kits.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. The good news is, the build is now underway! (with an update attached to my current post). Just getting started may have been the most difficult hurdle.


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