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. “Our lessons are all private, one-on-one so people can really get a sense of knowing the instrument and knowing what they want to do.”
In New Canaan, Williams is a member of the Carriage Barn Arts Center Board of Directors and also has served on the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and the Planning & Zoning Commission, among other community posts. New Canaan Music also regularly sponsors local performing arts.
Laura Budd, executive director of the Chamber, said that Williams in creating the business “turned his personal passion for music into a top-notch music store in New Canaan and we are all better for it.”
“Phil and his team have made a huge contribution to our community by not only providing an outlet for musicians young and old but by supporting so many local events such as Sidewalk Sale and Holiday Stroll,” Budd said. “Phil served on the Chamber’s Board of Directors for six years and his perspective made a valuable contribution to our organization.”
In 2021, Williams opened “Newport New Canaan Music” in Newport, R.I. after noticing the absence of a music store there.
“We thought it would be good to try a second location in a community known for music,” he said. “It’s a [place] where you have to go well out of town for a music store and we just figured that really shouldn’t be the case.”
New Canaan Music features a variety of guitar brands, such as G&L, Taylor, Yamaha, and Fender, becoming a “major destination for guitar enthusiasts,” Williams said. “We have had people come from as far as Maine to Pennsylvania.”
After 10 years, Williams reflected on the impact of New Canaan Music and was proud to say he never envisioned it becoming what it is today.
“It’s great to see how we’ve grown,” he said. “We have seen a lot of music interest growth in town”.
In the future, Williams said he wants to “keep on keeping on” and continue sharing his love of music with the community.