Al Lyman moved to Florida from Connecticut in late 2016 and it didn’t take long for The Venice Symphony’s Director of Music Personnel, Dana Kimble, to find him. Dana is also The Symphony’ principle percussionist. He and Al had met a while back at a joint concert in Lincoln Center when Dana was playing with the West Point Band and Al was with the United States Coast Guard Band. The Symphony happened to be looking for a percussionist and Al’s played almost every concert since then.
Less than two years later, Al has taken on the job as Music Librarian for the Symphony, making sure that all of the musicians have their music when they need it. That means renting or purchasing the music and getting it to the right musicians and then getting it back where it belongs. He also started working with the Symphony in the Schools program, performing demonstrations for third-grade students. “Coming to Florida, I’ve been able to shift some of my focus and attention back to music. I’m really passionate about sharing what I’ve learned with kids, and inspiring them and getting them excited about music,” he said.
Al started playing the drums in fourth grade in Connecticut. In high school, he played with the concert band, as well as rock bands and pick-up jazz groups before heading off to The Boston Conservatory of Music to study percussion. Two years into college, he auditioned for the Coast Guard Band and was shocked to win the audition. “They’d listened to dozens of percussionists who had auditioned. I was shocked to win it! Because I was in school, I was unsure whether I should jump at the opportunity, but my teachers and mentors at the Conservatory told me emphatically that it was too good an opportunity to pass- they said, take the job and go play.” He did just that, traveling all over the country and internationally, during a 28-year career, playing for every President, at National Christmas Tree Lightings, and even at Bob Hope’s 80th birthday party, where he played cards backstage with model Christie Brinkley and boxer Marvin Hagler.
Soon after he joined the Coast Guard Band, Al discovered another passion, running. He ran his first Boston Marathon in 1983 and has completed more than two dozen since. In the early years of his running career, he experienced the typical injuries and issues most runners have, so Al decided to learn how to train smarter and study the human body in great depth. That led to him becoming the Coast Guard’s first Wellness Program coordinator in 1989. But despite all of the running and racing, the defining moment of Al’s athletic life happened in 1995. He was 36 years old. Al was watching the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon on TV with his then 9- year old daughter, Erin. He was inspired and intrigued by the sport of triathlon, which combines swimming, biking, and but a near-drowning in his youth left him petrified of the water. Having not put a toe in the water for nearly 25 years, he told his daughter that day when they were watching the Ironman, that he would “do it!” That proclamation started a journey in early 1996 of learning how to overcome his fear of the water and teach himself to swim. Two years later, he completed his first Ironman and in another two years, he qualified for and competed in the world championship in Hawaii, crossing the finish line of that iconic race with his kids at his side. It was persistence and determination that showed him anything was truly possible if you want it badly enough.
Today Al Lyman coaches runners and triathletes, helping others to see the greatness that lies inside of them, just as he did by overcoming his fear of the water and doing ironman! His passion and specialty is working with injured athletes, and helping them get healthy so they can go have fun chasing their goals. Before moving to Florida, he co-owned and co-operated a “gait analysis” lab, with his partner who is a sports physician. He’s also a strength and conditioning coach, a barefoot training specialist, teaches kettlebells, and does Fascial Stretch Therapy, among other things. Known to many as “Coach Al,” he says, “I believe one of the reasons I’m here on the planet is to help people see there is something great inside of them.”
Al has two “amazing, beautiful, wonderful children,” Erin, 32 who lives in Connecticut, and a son, A.J., who lives in Boston, and one grandson, Theo. He lives in Nokomis with his girlfriend, Terry Williams.
“I’m really excited about this orchestra and for the future of The Venice Symphony. It’s an amazing group of people, musicians and staff,” he said. “It’s exciting to be part of something that’s growing and evolving.”