Below are some of the many reviews and media coverage in blogs, websites and magazines that have featured Ray and Warasa!
“That afternoon we pedaled out to Warasa, where the boys had a drum lesson with Garifuna drummer Ronald Raymod MacDonald (he goes by Ray). The boys were a bit intimidated by Ray, but he was such a patient and kind teacher that eventually they warmed up to him and really started getting in to the lesson. It was fun watching them get the feel of the sometimes tricky rhythms that characterize Garifuna drumming.”
“If you want to get to know the colorful and fun-loving culture of Garifuna, this is the place for you!
The founder of the local Drum School, Ronald Raymond McDonald (yes, that’s right!), And his mother welcomed us warmly. They asked us directly for a set table under a palapa – a roof covered with palm leaves. The traditional food, which included a soup with coconut milk and fresh fish, was absolutely delicious! Just the right strengthening before the following program. Ronald and his father showed us how to make their drums by hand today. If you liked, you could try it yourself. During the subsequent drum lessons, we learned various rhythms of the Garifuna songs. And who had experience in it, could prove this here. Everyone who felt like having two left hands made sure there was enough entertainment! Of course, we also learned a lot about the history of Garifuna. As a grand finale, we danced traditional Garifuna dances.”
“The Warasa Drum School in Punta Gorda offers interactive lessons in traditional Garifuna drumming, dancing and drum-making. It’s a hands on opportunity for travelers to experience Garifuna drumming and explore the unique culture whilst having fun.”
“Tam-tam, tam, short, short, long – the first rhythm our teacher is playing for us is easy. Without much effort, we beat, like him, on the taut deer skins of our bass drums. “Is everything okay?”, asks Ray during the round, then he laughs and really starts playing – our hands are to beat on the upper half, then on the lower half of the drum in rapid succession. I count strongly along, while Ray keeps me in time. “Don’t think such a lot, close your eyes, let the rhythm guide you,”. The instructor, whose full name is Ronald Raymond McDonald, encourages me, wearing a casually knotted headscarf and faded jeans on his athletic body. Again he sets off, tam-tam, tata-tam-tam. My colleagues at the class and I are not keeping up with our hands. But eventually it works – we drum, we sweat.”
“Ronald Raymond McDonald (no, really – the fast food chain is non existent in Belize, hence the parents’ lack of concern at choosing such a name), Garifuna drummer extraordinaire, taught us how to play a simple punta beat on the Segunda, or bass drum, used to keep the steady beat of the music, whilst he pummeled away at the Primera drum, a smaller, higher pitched instrument, played faster (and with far more skill) over the top. It’s harder than it looks, and as soon as my beat was steady enough to have accompaniment, it was all I could do to not start slapping the drum to the same rapid beat of my tutor. The class was great fun though, and Ray really is an amazing drummer and very patient teacher.”
“To pass on and promote Garifuna drums, Ronald Raymond McDonald, a former Belize national dance troupe, founded the Warasa Drumming School, the most famous drum school in Toledo, where he teaches drumming, drum making and providing Garifuna cultural experience….The drums, Ronald’s singing and laughter, the beaming faces under the thatch…the happy atmosphere infected everyone. “Garifuna drums feed my soul and are imprinted in my flesh and blood,” Ronald said. “This is a heartfelt voice, “singing from the heart” is the spirit of Garifuna drumming.”
“Drumming is just one of the tangible elements of the Garifuna culture, and the local Warasa Drum school is aptly named – “warasa” meaning “our culture” in the Garifuna language. Warasa Drum School was founded in 2010 by Ronald Raymond McDonald, and his wife, Ruth. Ruth originally hails from Scotland, and she reminisces that a few weeks after they first met Ray shared his dream with her of opening a Garifuna drumming centre – not only to teach drumming, but also how to make drums, and to share the Garifuna culture with others. With both of them working and saving hard to build their house at the Garifuna reserve they struggled to see how this vision could become a reality but, deciding they had to start somewhere, spent a weekend designing a sign, putting paint to plywood, and erecting the finished product outside their rented house. The sign did its job, piquing interest, and Ray began teaching four local children. He was also engaged by a PG guesthouse to provide weekly drumming lessons for their guests, and interest quickly spread to include performances and lessons at a number of lodges throughout the District. Ray is an engaging character and a very patient and skilled teacher.”
“Today, our first full day in PG, we took a drumming class with a man named Ronald McDonald (no joke!). He and his father are part of the Garifuna culture, and the drum school, Warasa, works to preserve it. It was a great class and we all learned a lot and had fun!”