The American pianist, tenor and music pedagogue, Max D. Lyall, graduated from Tonkawa High School in 1957, then in 1959 from Northern Oklahoma Junior College. Afterwards, he received the Bachelor of Music degree from Oklahoma Baptist University in 1961 and a Master of Music degree from the University of Oklahoma, along with a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in piano performance from the Peabody Conservatory of Music at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He has continued his education on the Visiting Scholar program at Teachers College of Columbia University in New York and Juilliard School of Music in New York.
From 1963 to 1966, Max Lyall was Assistant Music Editor for the church music department of the Baptist Sunday School Board (now LifeWay Christian Resources) in Nashville. For 8 years he was Associate Professor of music Belmont College (now University), Nashville, Tennessee.
For 25 years (1974-1999), Max Lyall was Professor of church music at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary's Bill and Pat Dixon School of Music in Mill Valley, California. "The impact of Dr. Lyall upon the ministry of Golden Gate has been inestimable and will continue through the years in the lives and ministries of his students," said seminary President William O. Crews. "He is a well-known ambassador and advocate for quality church music and worship in all settings here and abroad. We pray God's best blessing upon his life in the years ahead." Gary McCoy, director of the Dixon School of Church Music at Golden Gate, said of Lyall, "The seminary's students, faculty and staff have known him as a friend, a colleague, a musician and a co-laborer in ministry. He has contributed greatly to our lives and we will continue to benefit from his musical gifts, his teaching and his years with us."
Following this, he served for five years as Minister of Music at Woodbrook Baptist Church in Baltimore, Maryland. He wrote and arranged a number of works appearing in Southern Baptist publications, including Music From Way Back When and Klassics for Kids. In 1996, Word Music produced a collection of piano arrangements and original compositions, recorded on CD and cassette, titled "Keyboard Legends," featuring the work of Lyall and three other nationally known pianists. Lyall's previous recordings of hymn-tune improvisations include "Authentic Original" and "Max, Rhythm and Song."
Max Lyall was the pianist for meetings of the Southern Baptist Convention and Baptist World Alliance. He served on the hymnal committee for the 1991 edition of the Baptist Hymnal. The Southern Baptist Church Music Conference awarded him honorary life membership in 1992. He was frequently on the faculty for church music conferences at Glorieta ((New Mexico) and Ridgecrest (North Carolina) Conference Centers. He was a visiting professor of church music and concert performer at Baptist seminaries in Brazil, Argentina, Hong Kong Singapore, Taiwan and Zambia. While serving at Golden Gate, Lyall was a deacon and pianist at Tiburon (California) Baptist Church near the Mill Valley campus.
Max Lyall was a piano and harpsichord soloist with the Nashville Symphony and Chamber Orchestras. He waspiano and tenor soloist with the Nashville Pro Musica Chorus and Orchestra, as well as tenor soloist with the Nashville Chamber Singers, the oratorio choruses of Golden Gate, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky, and California Baptist University, Riverside. He was a charter member and accompanist for The Century Men. He also served for 40 years as Pianist at Falls Creek Baptist Assembly in Davis, Oklahoma. He has performed as pianist, organist and singer for the recording activities of Broadman Press and Buryl Red Productions. He has appeared as accompanist for concerts and recordings by Robert Hale, Dean Wilder, Cynthia Clawson and Henrietta Davis.
Max Lyall was honored by Oklahoma Baptist University with a Profiles in Excellence award in 1987. He served on the Hymnal Committee for the 1991 edition of Baptist Hymnal. The Baptist Church Music conference; Singing Churchmen of Oklahoma awarded him Honorary Life Membership in 1992 and Hines Sims Award in 2003. He was presented with the Distinguished Music Alumni Award in 2002 from Oklahoma Baptist University. He also received from Tonkawa High School the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2007. He was a member of ASCAP (American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers).
Max Lyall made his home in Oklahoma City, was an Associate Minister of Music at the First Baptist Church of Oklahoma City. He died there on February 18, 2010 He was preceded in death by his parents, Harold C. Lyall Sr. and Ila A. Lyall; brother; Harold Lyall, Jr.; and sister, Jearoldine D. Hurst.Survivors include his brother, J.D. "Cotton" Lyall, and wife, Willa Mae, of Tonkawa; sister, Veda M. Tull of Ponca City, Oklahoma; and brother, Guy Lyall and wife, Lois, of Tonkawa, Oklahoma; sister-in-law, Emma Lyall of Ponca City, Oklahoma. He is also survived by many cousins, nieces, nephews and a great host of friends.