Bookings

For guests who wish to book in advance and are not yet in Belize, you can book through the relevant activity pages below, and pay via secure credit/debit card. If you have any problems with the booking pages (including if it tells you there is no availability….), then please don’t give up!  We set up this whole website and booking system ourselves, and it isn’t perfect 🙂 – just drop us an email and we can usually still arrange your booking and payment that way.

If you are already in Belize, then the best way to book your activity is by giving us a call on +501 632 7701, or emailing us on warasadrumschool@gmail.com.  For all activities except those that include food, you can pay cash on arrival. Please note we don’t have a card machine and we aren’t able to accept card payments onsite at the drum school.

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Drumming Lessons

Drumming lessons can be booked one-to-one, or as part of a small or large group.  Each participant gets their own drum to play on. Your instructor Ray will make sure that everybody is having fun!

Lessons begin with Ray giving a brief background to Garifuna culture. You’ll then learn how to hold and strike your large bass “Segunda” drum.  He will show you a basic rhythm, then he will play alongside you on the smaller Primero drum.  He will also sing a traditional Garifuna song while you play.  You will learn many rhythms, including Paranda, Punta, Chumba and more.

Price per person:

1-6 people: $15USD/$30Bz per person

7+ people: $12.50USD/$25Bz per person

Drumming lessons

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Garifuna Drums

Garifuna Drums

886745_642546015806365_721270680_oGarifuna drums are made by hollowing out solid trunks of hardwood, and are hence genuine solid wood drums.  The hollow is traditionally started by burning hot coals in the centre of the trunk, but these days, unless some termites have chewed out a hollow for us, it is often started with the help of a chainsaw!

Once a rough hollow is made, a long chisel is used to chisel the log into a cylinder, and is then planed and sanded smooth.  Holes are drilled around the bottom of the cylinder for the ropes to pass through when it is time to add the skin.

Deer skin is the most commonly used skin, and it must be soaked, the hair scraped off, and then rinsed, before being cut to the correct size.  Natural vines (called teetay in Belize) are used to create two rings that fit snugly over the top of the drum cylinder: these rings are what holds the skin in place with the aid of the rope.  When they are cut from the jungle, the vines are very flexible, but they become rigid after a few hours, so the rings must be formed to the correct shape and size soon after they are cut.

The rope is one single length that is threaded through the holes around the bottom of the drum and then through the upper ring which pulls down on the skin.  The rope is tightened by turning hand-carved wooden pins, which causes the skin to be pulled taut.

The skin is still wet when it is first fixed to the drum, but the drum with its skin must then be left in the hot sun in order for it to dry.  Once it is totally dry, the top side of the skin is then sanded smooth while still on the drum.  The rope is then adjusted and the pins tightened again.

Once the skin is tight enough, the snare strings or wire are added.  For the Segunda drum, string is used to make a double snare wire; for Primero, the McDonald family like to use a few strands the wire from inside a bicycle brake wire cable, as it is strong and does not rust.  Wire produces a harder sound than string, and better suits the Primero drum than string.

The cylinder of a Garifuna drum can last decades if looked after and varnished regularly, but the skin must occasionally be replaced. Ray’s father, Mario, has had the same mahogany Segunda and Primero drums for over 40 years!

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The Drum Whisperer

Ray is famous in PG for his drumming. He may never have one the annual “Battle of the Drums” competition in PG (clearly the judges aren’t in their correct minds), but anyone that loves drumming will hire Ray and his family to drum for any event above any other local group. As Ludwig Palacio, local poet, artist and veterinarian once said to me: “some people knock drum like they’re at war with it, like they’re trying to knock it into submission… but Ronald – he caresses that drum and produces something magical” Of course I am totally biased, but I do happen to think Ray is the best drummer in Belize, possibly the world. One day, I asked Ray how he learned to play the Primero. I knew that he taught himself from age 5, but obviously he must have been watching someone. Sadly his inadvertent teacher (called Simon) is no longer alive he said, but he must have been good. Ray says his teachers at school would always scold him at school for drumming on his desk…it’s such a shame they couldn’t have channelled his talent instead of telling him off about it.

 

http://www.warasadrumschool.com

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