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The saxophone kid

Rowan stands with his music teacher Jason Merrill outside of Black Bear Conservatory of Music
Contributed photos

By Isabel Braverman
May 7, 2014

Rowan Lynch has played the saxophone for three years and has already performed at many locations, written original music for and recorded a jazz album with the Rowan Lynch Quartet, participated in the Keystone College Summer Jazz Institute, and played at the Scranton Jazz Festival. Oh yeah, and he’s only 13.

Rowan is in the seventh grade at Wayne Highlands Middle School and is a member of the concert and jazz bands there. He says he practices the saxophone for 10 hours a week, and also plays the guitar and piano. His dad Rob says, “We’re really proud of him, he works so hard. It’s amazing how many hours a day he’s been practicing the saxophone. He loves doing it and we love hearing it.” Rob also jokes that he and his wife do a lot of driving, as Rowan takes lessons at the Black Bear Conservatory in Hawley, Main Street Music in Scranton, and piano lessons with Ralph Liberto.

The other members of the Rowan Lynch Quartet are Norman Sullivan, Mark Terwilliger and Jason Merrill. All the guys laud Rowan’s dedication and talent and say his skill is far beyond his years. It says a lot when someone older says they aspire to be like someone younger. “Rowan embodies what I aspire to be like when I retire,” said Terwilliger. “I’ve studied music at the higher education level and have been around a lot of good musicians. It really is unusual to encounter somebody with Rowan’s, not only ability, but drive, at such a young age. It’s very inspiring.”

The Rowan Lynch Quartet recently recorded an album, “Strange Carp,” which has six original songs written by Rowan and four jazz standards, and performed at The Cooperage. Rowan said he just “gave it a shot” and brought some songs in to his teacher Merrill, who encouraged him to make an album. “I loved the idea,” said Rowan. “It seemed like a great opportunity.”

The guys in the group say Rowan’s song-writing abilities are impressive. “There’s this one song, ‘It’s Raining in Macando,’ which I think is a place from a book he read, and I get that stuck in my head all the time,” said Merrill. “And I’m like, man, there is this 12-year-old kid that came up with something that’s sticking in my head, it actually reminds me of a Radiohead song.”