Houghton College Professor makes LEGO History with Extended Grand Piano

International Steinway Artist and Director of Piano Studies at Houghton College, Dr. Bill John Newbrough, is the first person in the world to have designed a ‘9-foot’ (¼ scale) full-length LEGO concert grand piano, a modified and extended version of the Lego Ideas Grand Piano Set (#21323). To some people, building with LEGO bricks may be considered just playing with a ‘toy.’ But to many others, it is quite serious business!

  • lego piano - back view
  • lego piano - side view
  • lego piano - low angle side view
  • lego piano - front view
  • lego piano - overhead view

Furthermore, who would think that a LEGO creation could have Christian ministry applications? Well, that is exactly what Dr. Newbrough set out to do with his LEGO Piano MOC. MOC in LEGO-speak stands for ‘My Own Creation’–a term used to describe any unique, self-designed LEGO model that is not available on the market. The original LEGO Ideas Grand Piano set measured 13.5 inches in length and weighed 4.4 pounds; the MOC that Newbrough built essentially doubled that at “approximately 2 feet in length with a weight of 12 pounds,” he explains. “Not satisfied with the shorter version, many people have asked for this lengthier version of the Lego Grand Piano set, and so I knew what I had to do! I worked on this for over a month, combining two sets with many extra parts. The full extension and other details were my own design.”

Newbrough intended to gain wide attention on this project to be able to move along a longstanding hymn recording project, to be able to promote Houghton College and recruit students, to be able to be personally bold in testimony for the Lord, and, depending on how successful the whole project turns out to be, to be able to ultimately donate some funds to a Christian charity (perhaps he might even start a GoFundMe page for this!). This story has already garnered a lot of attention worldwide on Steinway Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, Houghton College Facebook, and many other online sites.

  • lego piano - close up
  • lego piano - as it was assembled

A beloved professor, Newbrough sets the bar high for his Houghton College students. “Dr. Newbrough is BRILLIANT! It is an honor to study with him,” says a former student. “He is a wonderful teacher who enjoys what he does, cares about his students, and exhibits a true love for music.”

A veteran performer, Newbrough has won many international and national piano competitions and performed in numerous solo, chamber music, and concerto engagements in the United States, Canada, Mexico, England, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Russia, South Korea, and Australia. He was named to the distinguished international family of Steinway Artists in 2014. When not teaching and performing or spending time with his family, Bill John also enjoys writing and publishing hymn arrangements.

Bill John Newbrough

Featured Testimonial

For me, the creative process of arranging is very natural, and so I applied this to my lifelong enthusiasm for building LEGO creations,” says the award-winning musician about his LEGO achievement. “This has been a tremendously interesting project for me, and I do hope it will be a great inspiration to many around the world—especially for pianists, those who desire to become pianists, piano technicians, and anyone with a love for great music-making. I truly hope this will make a positive impact for God’s Kingdom. Play on, build on … and may it be all for God’s glory!

Dr. Bill John Newbrough Professor of Piano and Director of Piano Studies; Horne Blanchard Chair of Music