In her early years of teaching in Minnesota, Lyon, who earned a degree in vocal performance, taught choral music to high schoolers and organized recitals of opera arias and art songs in German, French and Italian, she recalled. Arriving in Napa in 1995, she put her musical grounding to new uses while teaching at what was then the Westwood Elementary School.
“My passion was using music as a vehicle for language development,” she recalled of her work for the academy that became the Napa Valley Language Academy, one of the Napa school district’s three English-Spanish dual-immersion campuses. “If kids came to my class not speaking English, I would sing songs in English, Swahili, anything to get them to speak in different languages.
“I did a lot of folk songs, songs where kids could play drums and sing, dance to them. I didn’t want to always do English songs because kids at that age can soak everything up. When they hear sounds like that, they’re like ‘wow’ and they immediately pick it up.”
Recent contest entries by Lyon include works filled with musical imagery such as “If the Beach Could Sing She Would Sound Like a Cello,” a second-prize entry at thein San Francisco, and “Major to Minor,” a nominee in 2016.