Sitting on the far northern end corner of Hopkins Village is the Lebeha Drumming Center where you can immerse yourself in a cultural experience second to none in Belize. You can watch, listen and participate in dance as you catch local Garifuna boys making music and sharing the culture of their ancestors. “Discover how to Be” Belize at the Lebeha Drumming Center. Learn how to play the Garifuna Drums.
Lebeha means “the end” in the Garífuna language, which is a reference to the school’s location at a small guesthouse with a bar, budget rooms, and cabins at the far end of Hopkins Village. But the main attraction is the drumming center where both locals and visitors are welcome. It’s a quaint location where drumming goes on daily, but mostly on the weekends when activities are highest in the village.
You can visit Lebeha just to watch the Garifuna boys play or you can completely immerse yourself in the experience and take some drumming lessons. The school/cultural center accepts donations or you can purchase a CD of Lebaha drumming to help support the establishment. These young boys and men are very talented musicians and deliver the true essence of the Garifuna culture through their music and dance. The center is a must visit while at Hopkins Village.
Learn about the Garifuna Instruments
The drums are made by noted drum maker Austin Rodriguez of nearby Dangriga from mahogany or mayflower wood with deerskin hides. They are tuned by ropes on the sides and are then placed in the sun. The Primero drum is also called the male drum because it has been birthed from inside the larger female, carved from the same log. The Primero drummer and lead singer, or Gayusa, directs the musical changes, shows the greatest virtuosity and calls the songs for the others’ response. The drums are played by hand and the trick is to be able to play fast while keeping the tone strong.
Other instruments include the shakas (or shakers) which contain seeds from a fruit tree inside a calabash gourd and the turtle shells are exactly that, strapped around the player’s neck. There are no guitarists at Lebeha although guitars are often used in this style of music.
You can contact Lebeha Drumming Center for group or private lessons, whether you are passing through or plan to stay a while. They will teach you basic Garifuna rhythms such as the Punta, Paranda, Chumba and ; Masterclass lessons are also available for advanced musicians. If you are getting married on the beach or at a nearby resort the boys at Lebeha also play for a memorable wedding experience.
Address: Lebeha Drumming, Main Rd., near north end of Hopkins Village
November 19 is Garifuna Settlement Day, a national holiday in Belize that celebrated the rich culture of the Garifuna people