For Generation Y, the term “Rock Band” might conjure up images of teenage boys gathered around a television playing the popular video game. But for Michele Farrington, owner of Farrington’s Music Store, the term has quite a different meaning.
“Every year we organize rock bands, which are groups of our students that play every week—drums, keyboard, guitar and vocals,” she said. “Last year they played at the Hightstown Community Center and at Communiversity. The rock band is just a fun way to get kids and adults interested in music.”
Students are placed in groups based on their abilities, and have sessions once a week with an instructor to learn how to play as a group.
For music lovers young and old, the family-run Farrington’s Music Store offers music lessons, instrument rental and sales and, most recently, the Rock Band and a summer camp for musicians. But for Farrington, owning and operating a music store is not just about making the sales—it is about what she calls the “everlasting benefits” of music.
“Playing a musical instrument requires you to use a different part of your brain than you do normally. It becomes a lifelong hobby for children and adults,” she said. “It’s something creative rather than the daily grind.”
The benefits of music have been well documented in science. Music education has been shown to help concentration and relieve stress, and a few studies have shown a correlation between music lessons and increases in math test scores.
“It’s an opportunity to think in another way. It’s an outlet, a creative outlet,” Farrington added.
Farrington’s father, Nelson Farrington, studied classical piano and in 1962, he opened the first store on U.S. 1. Farrington started working in the store as a teenager, running the counter and interacting with customers. Michele Farrington took over the business 25 years ago.
With stores in Princeton, Princeton Junction, Burlington and Hightstown, Farrington’s serves about 350 students every week, including both children and adults. Lessons are offered for piano, guitar, flute, oboe, clarinet, saxophone and even for quirky instruments like the mandolin, harmonica and ukelele.
“If there’s a need, I can find a teacher. By all means, we’ll teach it,” Farrington said. “We once had a taught accordion lessons. We don’t get many requests for that.”
Many of Farrington’s teachers have 10 years or more of musical experience and many have music degrees. However, what Farrington believes sets her team apart is their ability to inspire and engage.
“We have people who took lessons when my father owned the store bringing their children for lessons,” Farrington said.
The store rents instruments to local school bands and implements a “rent to own” policy, where money paid for renting the instrument goes towards its final purchase.
Throughout the years, Farrington’s has had its share of famous patrons. Poet Paul Muldoon took guitar lessons at Farrington’s former downtown Princeton location. When the jazz musician John Popper lived in Princeton in the late 1980s, he would come in every week to buy new harmonicas
“He’d always wear them out from so much use, and I’d wait on him almost every week,” Farrington recalled.
Farrington’s is located at 55 Princeton Hightstown Road, Suite 203, in Princeton Junction and at 947 State Road, Suite 204, in Princeton. The Princeton Junction phone number is (609) 897-0032, and the Princeton phone number is (609) 924-8282.