Learn How to Play the Garifuna Drums with the Locals in Belize

Starting approximately 400 years ago, enslaved Africans were brought to work on the plantations of the Caribbean Islands. Over time, the new arrivals intermarried with local Caribbean islanders to form what is today known as the Garifuna, a unique people that have preserved a distinct culture, language, foods, and musical traditions.

One of the signature musical styles of the Garifuna is their special drumming. Using hand-made drums formed from native hardwoods and animal skins, Garifuna drums are much more than just a simple musical instrument. Garifuna drummers believe that their sacred rhythms are an important vehicle for communicating essential truths about the world.

Why You Have to Learn How to Play the Garifuna Drums

Honored by the United Nations for their valuable contribution to the oral and intangible heritage of humanity, the Garifuna continue to preserve their unique drumming styles as a vibrant part of their culture. Visitors in Belize can get the rare opportunity to learn how to tap out traditional Garifuna rhythms starting with strings of cured turtle shells, maracas, and drums.

Where in Belize Can You Learn

A number of towns and villages offer traditional Garifuna drumming classes for visitors. Whether it’s learning how to drum, dance, or how to make a traditional drum, classes are usually found in areas with a significant Garifuna population like the villages of Punta Gorda, Seine Bight, or Hopkins as well as the town of Dangriga.

The Best Time to Learn How to Play the Garifuna Drums

Although visitors can experience the joy of learning Garifuna drumming all year-round, the national holiday of Garifuna Settlement Day on November 19 is a great time to join in on all of the festivities that celebrate the rich history and cultural contributions of the Garifuna people.

Best Way to Learn 

There are a number of schools and musical centers throughout Belize that teach Garifuna drums. Consult websites like Belize Hub to find recommendations and listings for the best Garifuna drumming courses in Belize.

Best Way to Experience Garifuna Drumming in Belize

Bring an attitude of curiosity, open-mindedness, and appreciation for the unique blend of Caribbean and African rhythms that make Garifuna drumming such a joyous and soulful experience. Whether you’re an accomplished musician or never touched an instrument in your life, anyone can enjoy the fun of learning to drum with the Garifuna.

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