Honey bees make sweet music at Prussin Music in Kitsilano
NORAH AND JERRY Prussin, owners of the Prussin Music store.
PRUSSIN MUSIC has been a landmark on West Broadway since 1986.
JERRY tending his bees on the roof at Prussin Music.
By CATHOLINE BUTLER
VANCOUVER – Prussin Music has been a landmark at West Broadway near Alma since 1986. The retail store has a vast array of musical instruments for sale along with a large rental and instrument repair section.
The music school located on the second floor has become a major musical destination in the city with over 650 students and about 45 teachers offering instruction on all types of instruments.
Prussin Music is owned and operated by Jerry Prussin and his wife Norah. Beekeeping is one of Jerry’s hobbies and he keeps his beehives on the rooftop of the Prussin Music store. The honey is for personal use and not for sale.
It’s a novel concept and maybe all that music helps the production of honey, because this year over 200 pounds of honey was harvested from two beehives...that’s a lot of honey!
Prussin Music offers a large selection of musical instruments for children. There are little ukeleles, penny whistles, recorders, kazoos, harmonicas, DVDs for learning to play music, music books and stickers – all very affordable and it’s a wonderful way to get your children interested and started into music lessons.
I recently spoke to Norah about how she and Jerry got into the music business and their decision to open Prussin Music.
She said, “Prior to 1986 Jerry used to repair instruments in our home. He was always good with his hands for repairing and building things. He used to work in a little shop that wasn’t much bigger than your average walk-in closet repairing musical instruments.... so that’s where he really began it all.
“He ended up getting so much business that come the summertime, we literally had instruments piled all over our house from floor to ceiling with three children running around.
“Our first store was at 12th and Alma, and when the block was sold six years later to make way for condominiums, the store relocated down the street to the present location on West Broadway.
“We bought the building from Bill Lewis who was a well-known Vancouver guitar maker who also ran a music shop in the building. The store was a favourite drop-in for many well-known musicians, including Bob Dylan who played at the store.....so there is a real music history attached to this building.”
Norah said there has always been music in the family and is a bond both she and Jerry share.
“Jerry used to teach guitar and flute at night classes in Kitsilano High School,” she said, “and that’s where I met him. I took flute lessons from him and that’s how we got together. I love the penny whistle, flute and harp...I love music.”
The couple have two boys, Nathaniel and Emrys (a Welsh name although neither is Welsh they just liked the name). Both boys play music – Emrys plays guitar and piano and Nathaniel plays guitar and cello. Norah also has a daughter Anthea from an earlier marriage.
She said, “everybody is into music in the family. The boys were carrying around music cases from the time they could walk. My daughter Anthea also helps out at the store when it’s busy. I also have two grandchildren.”
Jerry’s interest in beekeeping started from the early days of dating Norah. “We had a mutual friend who was a potter that lived on the Sunshine Coast and he kept bees,” explained Norah.
“Jerry has just now been able to get into it slowly,” she said. “He started off with bees in our backgarden. He and the two boys went to Simon Fraser University to take a beekeeping course and they really learned a lot. Now, we have hives in our backgarden and on the roof at Prussin Music.”
“There’s quite a lot of work at different time in taking care of the bees such as taking off the honey but really it’s a hobby for Jerry and most of the time it’s not that much work.”
Norah explained, “It’s not like having a pet, where you would be tied down. The bees are really very self-sufficient.
“Right now they are getting ready for winter – some of them die off but they should survive the winter unless they get a disease or something happens to wipe them out.
“What happens is that when it gets really cold, they huddle in a ball and beat their wings very fast to create warmth and they take their turns going on the outside of the huddle.”
The family live in Kitsilano where there are a lot of flower gardens and so the honey is quite an interesting flavour says Norah.
“I think the honey is better than what you would buy in the store. This honey is really quite interesting since the bees have collected honey from an array of flowers and fruit trees in the area and it makes for a really wonderful flavour.”
With Christmas just around the corner, a gift certificate from Prussin Music can be used to buy musical instruments or music lessons. There are also some great music gift ideas at the store for the holidays.
Visit the Prussin Music store located at 3607 West Broadway (corner of Broadway and Dunbar, one block east of Alma), Vancouver, B.C. For more information, call (604) 736-3036, or check out their website at www.prussinmusic.com.