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.
In the 18th century slave ships from western Africa became shipwrecked near the island of Saint Vincent in the Caribbean. Several hundreds of slaves that escaped and made it to shore settled on the island. Already living there at that time were Carib and Arawak Amerindians (originally from South America). The African settlers intermarried with the inhabitants of Saint Vincent. This created a new ethnic group that became known as the Garinagu (in the past also know as the Black Caribs). The culture of the African settlers combined with the language and culture of the Carib and Arawak into this new “Garifuna” culture.
Conflict with European Settlers
In the late 18th century French and British settlers in the islands fought for control over Saint Vincent. The Garinagu population sided with the French. However the British won, and forced the Garinagu population to the island of Balliceux. Many thousands died on the journey across the Caribbean and on Balliceux. Those that survived continued their journey and ultimately settled along the Caribbean coasts of Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and Belize.
Garifuna Settlement Day
Every year on 19th November Belizeans celebrate the anniversary of the arrival of one of the largest groups of Garifuna people to the shores of Belize in 1802. This day is called Garifuna Settlement Day, or sometimes simply as “Yurumein”. Yurumein is the Garifuna name for Saint Vincent, the island where several Spanish slave ships were wrecked in the 17th century. This eventually led to the emergence of the Garifuna people and culture.
Garifuna Culture and Language
The Garifuna language belongs to the Arawakan group of languages and has survived centuries of discrimination and linguistic domination. It is rich in tales (úraga) originally recited during wakes or large gatherings. The Garifuna language has also adopted words from the other nationalities that are involved in their history. This includes French, Spanish and English.
If you ask a Garifuna person to count from one to twenty, you will soon recognize the French influence. The Garifuna words for window, sheep, and cheese are also examples of the French influence. Many Garifuna people’s surnames are traditional Spanish names, such as Martinez and Bermudez. Others are Spanish, such as Augustin and Franzua.
Experience authentic, interactive lessons in traditional Garifuna drumming, dancing, drum-making and more at Warasa Garifuna Drum School. Visit us in the peaceful coastal town of Punta Gorda.
Learn about the rich history and culture of the Garifuna while learning the different traditional drumbeats and dances that influence music throughout Belize and Central America.
Enjoy our spacious traditional thatch drum school in the heart of the Garifuna community. Surround yourself with lush vegetation, see parakeets flocking around, hear sounds of howler monkeys nearby.
All just a 20 minute walk, 10 minute bike ride or quick taxi ride away.
We share the Garifuna culture with locals and visitors which helps to preserve the culture for generations to come. We welcome guests of all ages and backgrounds. Don’t worry if you’ve never done any kind of drumming before or if you think you can’t dance. We welcome those with no rhythm, two left hands, two left feet, and of course those who consider themselves professionals.
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