Yorkshire music teacher scoops award for instrument invention

A NORTH Yorkshire music teacher has scooped a major industry award after an instrument he invented became a massive hit overseas, selling thousands as far afield as Japan, Canada and New Zealand.

Graham Lyons, 74, who runs a music shop in Kirkbymoorside, near York, has been awarded the Music Industries Association award for Best Export Initiative 2010 thanks to the huge international success of his woodwind instrument, the Clarino.

Mr Lyons, a grandfather of two, invented the instrument when he was working as a school music teacher in London in the late 1980s and noticed that children's fingers were too small to play the traditional woodwind instruments.

He designed a prototype – based on a smaller version of the clarinet – and after moving up to Kirbymoorside started production in a workshop in the back of his home, often assisted by other residents in the town where a group of pensioners set up a Clarino club.

News of the instrument slowly spread, and Mr Lyons began selling his design to schools and music shops across the country.

But after a factory took over production two years ago, its success has rocketed, selling 13,000 in 2010 alone.

"I'm not surprised it is so popular because it is such an obvious idea," said Mr Lyons, who has taught the saxophone, bassoon, flute and clarinet all his life.

"But I'm thrilled and my family are very proud.

"I had only ever been an inventor in my own imagination before this, in my head I was always coming up with things and solving problems without ever getting them down.

"My dream is that its success continues to grow and millions of people from all over the world realise what this instrument can do for their children.

"It is cheap, easy and capable of bringing immense joy – not to mention stopping young people from just staring at the TV when they are at home.

"To be recognised in this way by some very important people within the music industry is a tremendous honour and I am thoroughly proud and delighted."