New Canaan Music Marks 10 Years Downtown

Ten years ago, New Canaan resident Phil Williams opened up a music shop with nothing but what he calls “hope and a dream.”

Today, New Canaan Music has expanded to two stores and, here in town, has become a hub for music lessons and instruments while Williams has become deeply involved with the community as a business owner. After seeing an opportunity in New Canaan at a time when it had no music store, Williams built a business plan to “give back to the community,” he said. 

New Canaan Music provides customers with music lessons and the option to rent or buy instruments, catering to a variety of music needs and experiences. They have had “known celebrity music people come in as customers as well as the aspiring beginner,” Williams said. 

Whether it’s doing “set up work for a band going on the road that’s been a national act since the 1970’s” or having “a child break a string on a ukulele,” New Canaan Music offers a place for every age of music lover. Starting in 2013 in a smaller shop on Elm Street, New Canaan Music soon outgrew its space and moved to a new location at 90 Main St. “From our first location we had three lesson studios that we had converted into four—here we have eight lesson studios where we do lessons six times a week from Monday through Saturday,” Williams said.

‘Everyone Can Do It’: Local Mom Launches New Canaan Candy Co.

A local mom is starting a candy company to create “Sweet Possibilities” through competitive employment for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Jen Connelly has worked with individuals with special needs her whole life. Her older brother struggled with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder and Tourette Syndrome, both of which resulted in unwanted attention. 

“Having him as my sibling drove me to the profession that I have done for my career,” Connelly told on a recent afternoon. She has experience as a special education teacher, a behavioral analyst, and even opened a charter school in the South Bronx designed to serve individuals with autism spectrum disorder. Connelly observed that while many of the kids she served moved through adolescence and adulthood being exposed to internships and job sampling, they were unable to find work.

‘The Building of a Sisterhood’: Camp LiveGirl Marks 10 Years

For 10 years, a local camp has been providing girls in grades five through eight the chance to become “confident, inclusive leaders.”

LiveGirl’s summer camp is designed to bring leadership development and mentoring skills to girls of all ages. 

While after-school groups such as “Confidence Club” or “LiveGirl League” give girls and young women opportunities to embrace their individuality, advocate for themselves, and develop resilience in the face of challenges, “Camp LiveGirl” fills a gap in the summer. Camp LiveGirl Program Director Shamare Holmes said, “We wanted to make sure that during the summer we don’t lose sight of what our girls need.”

What they need is increasingly important given rising rates among young girls of multiple mental and emotional health problems, such as depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation, experts say. And Camp LiveGirl addresses those issues head-on. In middle school, many girls experience a drop in confidence, their self-esteem reaching all-time lows. For that reason, LiveGirl—founded by New Canaan’s Sheri West, CEO—starts working with them during this period, encouraging them to build resilience and develop their strengths while connecting them with a support system. 

“When you’re in middle school it’s an awkward time so LiveGirl provides that added support to teachers, parents, guidance counselors,” Holmes said.

Op-Ed: I Am Rising

In their tween and teenage years, girls become dramatically less self-assured, their confidence plummets, and feelings of insecurity dictate their everyday lives. The adolescent drive for acceptance, the way we socialize women, and the double standards we hold have compounded the negative peer pressure on girls that causes many to question their body, their intelligence, and their worth. By the age of 14, the average girl is much less confident than the average boy. However, this feeling isn’t just temporary for some women. Confidence is essential for turning thoughts and feelings into action, and when the confidence gap that opens during puberty remains during adulthood, it harms women as they enter the workforce.