Program Overview

This international music internship is an opportunity to assist an energetic, passionate team help change people’s lives through music while making friends for life with South African students who come from a broad spectrum of cultures. This is a professional experience assisting with the operations of music and dance productions at our partner music academy in White River, South Africa on the doorstep of renowned Kruger National Park, home to the Safari Big 5. A safari and visit to an elephant sanctuary are included in the program!

The program offers opportunities for training, performing, and teaching, but the main focus is to contribute to the administration of the music academy and gain an understanding of how the music and arts profession works in South Africa. We want you to grow during your time with us and thus we will customize your program according to your background and goals.

You will work at least 20 structured hours per week with oversight from our Program Manager. This will include weekly formal check-ins to determine progress and get feedback from both ends.

Performing Arts Abroad intern abroad participants are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity to take on a self-driven capstone project to complement their internship experience. This is a unique opportunity for you to complete a project of your own design and choosing with the guidance of a PAA advisor, and up to $100 in funding. In the end, you’ll feel a deeper connection to your international internship experience, and you’ll produce something that demonstrates your professional aptitude, what you have learned, and what you have contributed to your host organization.

“Through Performing Arts Abroad, I was able to understand why music matters. From riding an elephant to playing in a jazz band, I don’t think I could ever get an experience like this anywhere else!”

Performing Arts Points of Interest

The Crypt Jazz Restaurant

If you’re a Jazz fan, head down to the Crypt, Cape Town’s newest venue for live Jazz situated under St Georges Cathedral. As co-founder Mario Thompson says, ““We are first and foremost a jazz bar, not a restaurant that happens to offer live music.” At the centre is a raised circular stage, where esteemed local and international ensembles play five nights a week before candlelit tables. Take in your music with a light snack or dinner.

Mama Africa

For music with an African influence, pull up a chair at Long Street’s Mama Africa any day of the week. While enjoying hearty African dishes at your table, take in live music performed by young local musicians. There are three marimba bands which each play twice a week. You might even be moved to get up and give the cosy dancefloor a whirl.


Asoka is a bar and music venue in Cape Town that hosts jazz nights every Thursday. It’s a small venue and tables fill up quickly so arrive early. Shows start 9pm and entrance is free!

PAA Home Base

Most of your days will be spent at the music academy where you will be interning. The academy has a large performing hall with a main stage, as well as several smaller performance spaces and classrooms and a recording facility. Students come from around the area to take classes and form bands with fellow musicians, and the academy plays host to an annual music festival with several thousand attendees.

About the Location

Enjoy beautiful White River, South Africa, which lies approximately 20km north of Nelspruit, the capital of Mpumalanga, the center of a well-developed industry where vegetables, sub-tropical fruit, flowers, nuts and timber are produced. It has become extremely popular as the town is perfectly positioned as a holiday stop-over and base from which to explore the many attractions of this great province, most of which are in comfortable driving distance of the town. The charm and tranquillity of White River has induced many of the country’s foremost potters, painters, sculptors and furniture makers to settle there, hence the name”The Artists Town”.

The area offers a great variety of outdoor activities, from water rafting, abseiling and diving to game drives, micro lighting and hot air ballooning. There are also 3 top 18-hole golf courses in the vicinity and the area’s nature trails, on foot or on horseback, are a wonderful way to see the abundance of flora and fauna. Fly-fishing is very popular and there are a handful of stocked dams and streams in the area. Probably the most popular attraction is Kruger National Park, one of the biggest game parks and safari destinations in this region of the continent.


Most interns will stay in a homestay with a staff member’s family, with two meals per day and laundry provided. The most common homestay is with one of the center’s directors and his wife, who live in a beautiful home with several guest rooms.

When the homestay is not available, we rent out a shared house or apartments, depending on the number of participants on the program at one time. The residential area in which you will stay is a typical middle class suburb, similar to U.Ss smaller town suburbs. All accommodations are on lit, paved roads with plenty of neighbors. While it is safe to walk around at night, the walk to the center is along a busy road and it is not recommended to walk along it after dark. Thus, for any night events or functions, a member of management will drive you back to your accommodation. Apartments have a maximum of 2 participants staying together and there will always be individual, separate rooms and a shared kitchen and lounge area.


You will have your own room regardless of the type of accommodations offered during your session. It is common for you to be the only Performing Arts Abroad intern during your session, especially outside of the busier summer months. When this happens, it is a great opportunity to create deeper more meaningful relationships with the staff and students of the academy.

A Day in the Life

The Participant Experience

A cacophony of sounds meets your ears as you move from one practice room to another, assisting multiple bands of young people with their sets for the upcoming music festival. You pause to enjoy the collision of drumbeats, guitar riffs, and xylophone tunes before hurrying on your way to greet the next group of eager students. You smile as you remember that the afternoon will be spent hunkered around a table with the academy’s directors, sorting through the scheduling puzzle that comes with a large music festival. And to think just yesterday you were standing in a Land Rover cruising through Kruger National Park with your head sticking out the top, marveling at the parade of elephants lumbering by…

As an intern, you will be a valuable asset to our partner music academy, which gives a platform for local children, especially from previously disadvantaged backgrounds, to develop an interest in music and the performance arts. Since the inception of this project, there has been an incredibly positive change in the community. Young adults in Kabokweni and surrounding areas are starting to harness their talents and take charge of their futures. Musicians and band from our project have performed alongside international act Ali Campbell (UB40), as well as local bands Mango Groove, Watershed, Elvis Blue and Judith Sephuma to name a few. Young musicians at our performing arts center also perform at corporate, private and public events, including several local festivals like the popular Innibos Laeveld Nationale Kunstefees. Recently, performing arts students from the music academy were invited to perform Ilizwi at the World Economic Forum in Cape Town at the BOE Nedbank Arena Waterfront.

On Arrival

You will book a flight to arrive at Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (MQP), where a member of our staff will be there to greet you with a PAA sign. You will be taken from the airport to your housing where you will spend the rest of the day settling in, unpacking, and getting to know your hosts. Depending on your time of arrival, you may get a chance to see the music academy’s headquarters right away, although many interns do this in the first day or two after arrival. When the time comes, you will get an orientation to White River and the surrounding area, the center where you will spend most of your time, and townships on the edge of town where the center conducts outreaches and remote trainings.

A Typical Day

On most days, you will wake up and eat breakfast with your hosts, then be driven to the center to assist with tasks needed for that day. You will be invited to teach workshops and classes based on your skill level, and will have ample opportunities to collaborate with local musicians. Many past interns have participated in jam sessions and even spent time in the recording studio with a variety of music ensembles. You will also be involved with the administration of the academy and any management projects they are currently developing. You will have plenty of time to explore the local area, including a safari in South Africa’s biggest game park – Kruger National Park – and an elephant rehabilitation center.

Host Group

The center where you will be interning offers school-going children ages 12 and up opportunities to develop their talents in music and the performing arts. The goal is to use music to cultivate shared values between communities and cultures, and to identify and develop talented young musicians. The facility offers ample space and equipment for bands to practice, dance groups to rehearse, and visiting musicians to lead lessons and workshops. There are a wide variety of musical genres and instruments being explored at the center and you will be able to customize your volunteer experience to your own skills and interests.

There is also an opportunity to assist with 2Enable, a software program developed by the music academy which focuses on three areas: 1. Member enrollment, management and communication and related event management. 2. Delivering free educational content to the public in general. 3. To assist Non Profit Organizations develop a diversified income stream thereby increasing their financial resilience and independence of big ticket donors.

Support Staff

Support Staff

Support Staff



“Through Performing Arts Abroad, I was able to understand why music matters. From riding an elephant to playing in a jazz band, I don’t think I could ever get an experience like this anywhere else!”

“I truly enjoyed my time volunteering with Performing Arts Abroad in South Africa. I loved getting to know the students and staff and applying my music teaching skills in a totally new way. The students there are so eager to learn, and the environment in which we stayed was very enjoyable. I loved every minute of this program and recommend it with the highest regards.”

“I learned a lot about the local culture there and would definitely encourage future students to pursue this opportunity.”

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Program Dates

Summer 2020

Session Application Deadline Start Date Maximum Duration
Session 1
(estimated dates)
Feb 24 2020 May 04 2020 12 weeks
Session 2
(estimated dates)
Mar 10 2020 May 18 2020 12 weeks
Session 3
(estimated dates)
Mar 31 2020 Jun 08 2020 12 weeks
Session 4
(estimated dates)
May 05 2020 Jul 13 2020 7 weeks
Session 5
(estimated dates)
May 19 2020 Jul 27 2020 5 weeks

Important Summer 2020 Dates

Program Cost

Description Cost
4 weeks $3,095
5 weeks $3,460
6 weeks $3,825
7 weeks $4,190
8 weeks $4,555
9 weeks $4,920
10 weeks $5,285
11 weeks $5,650
12 weeks $5,995

Apply today — How the process works

Submit a simple online application

Schedule a live video interview with a Program Coordinator

Upload program specific materials to an online portal

Receive your aceptance decision and begin your journey!

How the Process Works

To apply, click the “Apply Now” button below. You will fill out a simple initial application online and pay a deposit that is refundable if you are not accepted, and will be applied toward your overall program cost if you are accepted (not an additional fee). At this point, we will ask you to send us the following materials:

  • Your resume/CV
  • Cover letter
  • Music video (optional, not used for acceptance decision, but to give instructors sense of current level)
  • Your availability in U.S. Eastern Time for a 30 minute video interview with your Program Coordinator.


Apply Now

Application Tips

  1. Be clear in your interview about your goals for the program. We work hard to prepare your hosts and give them the chance to design an experience that is customized to you as much as possible. To do this, we need a clear picture of who you are and what you want out of your time in South Africa (and don’t want!).
  2. The Skype interviews are our first face-to-face impression of you. Show up on time, dress well, and be personable.
  3. If you choose to submit a video, you should highlight the musical style you do best, and should choose a high quality video with a strong opening. Videos with other musicians are fine, as long as you clearly identify yourself and have adequate solo time. We prefer videos to be uploaded to an online platform such as YouTube to allow us to easily share with the dance center instructors.
Request Information

Eligibility Requirements

  • Age

    Participants must be 18 or over the day they begin the program.

  • GPA / Student Status

    There is no GPA requirement for this program, students and non-students are welcome to apply.

  • Language

    There is no foreign language requirement for this program, English is spoken widely in White River and South Africa.

  • Experience

    We give preference to applicants with at least one year of music experience. A video showing your current skill level is helpful, but not required.

  • Motivation

    We are looking for open-minded, flexible applicants who can clearly convey their passion for music and an acute interest in international travel and exposure to new ideas.

Apply Now