Garifuna Drumming Lessons

Garifuna Drumming lessons can be booked for couples or small to medium size groups.  Each participant gets their own drum to play on. Your instructor Ray will make sure that everybody is having fun!

Garifuna drumming lessons begin with your instructor giving a brief background to Garifuna culture and music, including giving you a quick look at the structure of your drum. 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.  If you are lucky you will also have another Warasa instructor playing maracas and singing along! You will learn many rhythms, including Paranda, Punta, Chumba and more. Lessons are adapted to guests’ ability and are suitable for ages 5 – 105  and for complete beginners to experienced percussionists.

Price per hour per person:

2-3 people: $35USD/$70BZD per person

4-7 people: $25USD/$50Bz per person

8-11 people: $22.50USD/$45Bz per person

12-14 people: $20USD/$40BZD per person

15-20 people: $17..50USD/$35BZD per person

We have been teaching drumming lessons to guests from across the world for over 10 years now, and have even taught lessons in LA in the USA and in Brighton and Edinburgh in the UK! We can teach in English and Spanish.

Drumming lessons

Garifuna Culture

Garifuna culture unites Garinagu people in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and also those who now live in other countries including the United States.

In 2008 the Garifuna language, music and song were inscribed as part of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO (UNESCO – Intangible Heritage of the Garifuna)

Origin of the Garifuna Culture and People

Garifuna cultureIn 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.

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Below are some Garifuna items and jewellery pieces made by us from sea glass collected in Belize. 

Warasa Garifuna Drum School

Authentic Garifuna drumming, dancing, drum-making and more!

Warasa Garifuna Drum School is a cultural and educational site located in the peaceful coastal town of Punta Gorda, Belize. See hand-carved instruments and family cultural artefacts. Experience all of this under our authentic traditional thatch palapa made from 100% natural and sustainable materials. You are welcome to simply look around while we explain the history of our fascinating culture, or experience an authentic, interactive lessons in traditional Garifuna drumming, dancing, drum-making and more at Warasa Garifuna Drum School.
We offer rich educational experiences to both local and international visitors, and can accommodate school groups of up to 25 students at a time. 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 and toucans hopping around, hear sounds of howler monkeys nearby.
All of this 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 professionals.
Read about us in Lonely Planet,  Moon Belize and most other reputable guidebooks.  Also check our TripAdvisor reviews, Facebook reviews and Google+ reviews.
Warasa and the Saint Vincent Block lands
We are local family-owned and run, located in the indigenous Garifuna-owned Saint Vincent Block lands by Punta Gorda town. To learn more about the Saint Vincent Block and Garifuna lands in Toledo, you can read an interesting dissertation here.
Below are some Garifuna items and jewellery items made by us from sea glass collected in Belize.