Graham Lyons started the piano at the age of six but at thirteen, inspired by Benny Goodman, switched to clarinet lessons. He continued to play the piano, but without formal tuition, using it to investigate harmony and jazz improvisation. His first clarinet teacher was George Draper, whom he remembers with great affection. For five years his weekly high spot was his clarinet lesson. After National Service as a Radar Fitter, Graham went to Oxford to read physics. At Oxford, music, not physics, took priority and, not surprisingly, he was sent down at the end of the first year. After Oxford he studied bassoon and composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, paying his way by working in a jazz club on piano, clarinet and saxophone.
For the next twenty years Graham worked as a performer in symphony orchestras, musicals, clubs and on broadcasts. He also composed advertising jingles and television background music, and arranged for bands, cabaret and various (now defunct) BBC Radioorchestras. In addition he also taught woodwind instruments part-time inschools. In fact he is best-known for his educational publications, comprising more than sixty tutors and albums, with combined sales of more than 300,000.Many of his compositions are on the wind syllabuses of the music examining boards.