The Lyon family is being recognized for their years of service and participation in Utah Symphony | Utah Opera (USUO) education programs and concerts. In this remarkable family of six, the love for their children and their connection with music as a source of healing in their lives is so apparent. Paula Fowler, USUO’s Director of Education and Community Outreach has said, “They are just an indispensable, joyful part of our Utah Opera extended family. They are a family where everyone is born with music in their veins.”
The Lyon family is unlike most families you may ever meet. They are a very musical family and have two sons with autism. But what is most remarkable about them is their outlook on life and the perspective they carry with them in their unique family dynamic, caretaking for their 16-year-old son Jarrett, who is nonverbal and requires full-time care. Blair and Kara Lyon have four sons in total who have all been involved in music, including Jarrett who is very “musically sensitive,” as Blair describes him. Their oldest son Allyn, runs the music department at Beaver High School, teaching orchestra, choir, band and guitar; Treyson is currently serving an LDS mission in Mexico and has participated in musical theatre; Andrew is a trained singer with an associate degree in media music; and Jarrett is their youngest.
The highlight of their participation with USUO has been the annual Access to Music concerts for families with children with special needs, of any age. They have been involved with the Access to Music concerts since they started in 2001 and they have performed as a family string group which has provided pre-concert music for the concerts for many years. “We are so grateful for the Access concerts. These kids can bounce around in their chairs, be loud and enjoy music in this free, uninhibited way and it makes me think this box of normalcy that the rest of us are stuck in can be really constraining. Jarrett sees the world and hears music in a different way and I think that is really special,” Kara says.
Kara was the one who first started the three oldest boys on the piano and is very musical and loves to sing. She uses what Blair calls her “music therapy skills” as she teaches young children to swim, including many with special needs. Blair, Kara’s husband, is a music specialist in the Salt Lake City School District and has taught for over 25 years. He said, “Music has always been a part of my life and we wanted that for our children.”