Lyons History

The Lyons brand provides value-conscious music educators with high-quality classroom instruments like recorders, guitars and mallet instruments like xylophones, glockenspiels and metallophones. But few people know the rich history of this company.

In 1928, William H. Lyons (president), Howard R. Lyons (vice president), and Clarence L. McCreery (secretary treasurer) founded the Lyons Band Instrument Company in Chicago, Illinois. They quickly decided to focus on school music and in 1930, they devised and piloted their first band instrument rental plan.

To promote this rental plan, and their ability to rebuild and refinish instruments, they created a newspaper called The Lyons Band News. They published articles about successful programs, teaching tips, and new products. In 1947, the company sponsored the first annual Midwest Clinic in Chicago, which has since gone on to become one of the premier music conferences in the world.

After William and Howard Lyons retired, the company changed hands several times, and was eventually purchased by the Selmer Company in 1970. Selmer sold the company in the early 1990’s and the company became independent again as Lyons Music Products.

The Orff Approach

The Orff Approach is a developmental approach used in the music education of children. Developed by Carl Orff and Gunild Keetman in the 1920’s, this approach combines music, movement, drama, and speech into lessons that are like how children play and socialize. For example, the Orff approach has children sing, chant, clap, dance, pat, and snap fingers along to melodies and rhythms. It also includes instruments like miniature xylophones, marimbas, glockenspiels, and metallophones. These instruments have removable bars and resonating columns to project the sound, and are easily transported and stored, making them perfect for the classroom. 

The Modern Lyons Brand

Today’s Lyons brand is best known for providing Orff instruments including xylophones, glockenspiels and metallophones at prices that make the instruments accessible for schools and educators on limited budgets. Lyons Orff instruments are the perfect affordable alternative for a quality sounding instrument. 

Lyons Orff Instruments

Lyons xylophones, like the Lyons Xylophone Regular Diatonic, feature rosewood tone bars, while Lyons metallophones (like the Lyons Metallophone Regular Diatonic) and glockenspiels (check out the Lyons Glockenspiel Regular Standard Bar) feature hand-tuned aluminum tone bars.

Each bar has a note name stamped at the top for easy identification and features a single-pin mount for a rich, full sound. The natural finish solid wood boxes with all-glued construction provide increased resonance and volume. All diatonic units include two F# and one Bb bar. A damper is included with all diatonic Lyons alto and bass metallophones for quick silencing.

Lyons also offers a wide-bar glockenspiel, which is perfect for use with younger students that need a slightly larger bar to strike when playing.

Lyons Recorders

Lyons is also known for its recorders. Their soprano recorders have a clear, sweet tone and are fun instruments that can give students a solid musical foundation. The Lyons soprano recorder has baroque fingering and is comfortable to play for younger children with smaller hands. Three-piece construction makes it easy to tune and to clean and the durable recycled plastic material offers reliable intonation and years of use. Available colors include transparent purple, orange, blue, green, red, yellow, clear, plus opaque brown and ivory. Each instrument includes a carrying pouch with a fingering chart and a cleaning stick.

Where to Buy Orff instruments

Top retailers like Woodwind & Brasswind, Music & Arts and others provide Lyons instruments so that children of all ages can continue to learn and enjoy music. We also carry other top brands in the Orff instrument space including Sonor and Suzuki classroom instruments. Our school music experts can help you select the best instruments for your program while providing school discounts that will help you stretch your budget. Contact us at 800.346.4448 or shop at your convenience on the Educator Website.