Garifuna Drumming Lessons

Learning the basics of drumming has been on the “things to do” list since our very first family deferred trip (Carriacou, 2009). Finally, it happened in the coastal town of Punta Gorda in Belize’s deep south.

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“Downtown” Punta Gorda
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Punta Gorda Shop

There are often times (this trip and others) I think we are travelling in the middle of nowhere. This was no exception. Once again we were the only white folks around. After a bumpy, muddy drive five minutes out of town (the town itself is in the middle of nowhere), we arrived at the Warasa Garifuna Drum School. It was the home of Ronald Raymond McDonald (Ray), founder of the drum school. We had arrived mid-afternoon without notice and we were not very hopeful that we would be able to get a lesson, but went nonetheless.

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Road to Warasa

Obviously, our arrival had awakened Ray. Fortunately for us, he was very accommodating. Within 10 minutes, he had reorganized his drums and swept the sand-floored palapa. The lesson started with some history of the Garifuna. We then learned five different traditional Garifuna drum beats that are played throughout Belize and Central America.

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Feelin’ the groove

Of the five drum beats (three of which are punta, paranda, and hungu), some seemed easy and some seemed more challenging. However, what we would each call easy and challenging differed among us. I think it depended on whether you were relaxed and felt the music as opposed to overthinking the beat.

This was a really great way to spend a couple of hours. That being said, I could do it again today.

This is a family post; we all contributed to it.

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