Alison Feuerwerker is a violinist and music teacher from Ontario, Canada, and she was a PAA music volunteer in South Africa in January and February of 2016. On a January morning I am singing along with Toto’s song “Africa” while I do dishes.…
As a volunteer, you give a platform for local children, especially from previously disadvantaged backgrounds, to develop an interest in music and the performance arts: an idea that impacts their lives positively. 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, our performing arts students were invited to perform Ilizwi at the World Economic Forum in Cape Town at the BOE Nedbank Arena Waterfront.
“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.”
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.
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 volunteering. 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
This program is in White River, South Africa, which lies approximately 20km north of Nelspruit, the capital of Mpumalanga, the centre 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 number 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 volunteers 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 volunteer 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. That afternoon you climb in a car and venture out to the edge of town with a staff member to lead a music workshop for youth in a township with limited access to music education. 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 a volunteer, 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. You will volunteer at least 10 hours per week for at least one week, although we highly recommend staying at least two weeks.
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 volunteers 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 volunteers have participated in jam sessions and even spent time in the recording studio with a variety of music ensembles. 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.
Deb is the primary PAA contact for all participants once they have applied to their programs. She processes applications, conducts applicant interviews, communicates with overseas partners regarding acceptance decisions, orchestrates all pre-departure preparation, supports participants while they are on their programs, and oversees re-entry counseling as she ushers them into joining the ranks of our fabulous PAA alumni.
Deb grew up at a small, independent school surrounded by the languages, music and cultures of students from around the globe. Her passion for exploration has brought her to many out-of-the-way places such as studying variable stars at a Nantucket observatory, flying a small plane over the skies of New England and mapping ancient lava flows in southern Arizona. Without a doubt, though, her favorite place is anywhere in a theater. As an award-winning stage manager, Deb has collaborated on productions throughout the Pioneer Valley in Western Massachusetts and always enjoys challenging and innovative theater. She happily admits to an obsession with all things organizational and considers a trip to the office supply store a totally valid form of therapy.
She has studied and traveled extensively in England and Scotland, has journeyed through parts of France and currently shares her space with cats, humans, and far too many books.
Erin Hardee Patterson
Erin advises everyone who expresses interest in PAA’s programs. She responds to e-mails, answers questions submitted in online forms, makes and receives phone calls about our programs, and communicates with those who begin an application.
Erin Hardee Patterson earned a Bachelor’s of Music in Music Therapy at Berklee College of Music, and her Master’s in Music Therapy from Florida State University. Her professional adventures as a cellist, singer songwriter, board-certified music therapist, event coordinator, admissions professional, project manager, and newly trained birth doula have helped her to live all over the United States – from her home state of Virginia, to New Orleans and Maine, to Tallahassee and Vegas (to name just a few!). In addition to her US travels, a ferocious case of wanderlust inspired Erin to travel to The Netherlands, Canada, Germany, France, and Belgium. (The wanderlust is no joke – this bio was written on a plane!). She enjoys practicing her conversational French and American Sign Language, and has aspirations of one day carrying on conversations in Spanish (hopefully on a beautiful balcony in Spain). Erin is a new transplant to the Northampton, MA area with her firefighter/paramedic spouse Max, their dog Eleanor, and 3 very fat house cats. She is passionate about tiny humans, music, yoga, beautiful bodies of water, succulents, two steppin’, empowering families to have joyous, satisfying births, and being a smiley muppet.
South Africa Site Director
Paul supports all participants on our programs in South Africa, acting as the main point of contact throughout their stay in the country. He coordinates airport pickup, arranges housing, does strategic planning, and manages the 24-hour onsite emergency phone.
Paul Bruce-Brand joined Michael Matthews to found the music development academy where PAA volunteers and interns work to spread the joy of music to the population of White River, South Africa. As a member of the board, Paul is responsible for Sponsorship, Band Liaison, Organization of the Route 40 Music Festival and relationships with overseas institutions such as Carnegie Hall and The Rock School Scholarship Fund.
Whilst the Academy is Paul’s passion, he is also involved in the Tourism Industry and manages two hotels. He has previously also owned successful businesses: a Gas Station, Convenience Store, Nando’s chicken franchise, and a travel business.
Prior to buying his own businesses, he completed an honors degree in Social Sciences at the University of Natal, and spent a year in northern California and worked at Sugarbowl Ski Resort. He was also a Human Resources Manager for Sun International (Hotel Chain) and was with Anglo America before that. He then left the Corporate World and embarked on his own businesses.
His involvement in the Music and Dance Academy and his family are Paul’s real love. In addition to running the Academy Paul is also a qualified Trauma Counsellor and has successfully assisted a number of children in Mpumalanga. PauI is 46 years of age, married with three children.
“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!”
“Volunteering in South Africa was nothing less than one of the best things I have ever done! Something that everyone should experience, go for it because you will not regret it!”
“Being able to travel across the world and experience music and culture that is completely different from mine was extremely eye opening. The people that I met and bonded with are like family now. Interning at the CMDA through PAA was hopefully the first in a long list of experiences that I will have abroad!”
From the blog
When you think of Africa, what do you think of? Is it thatched roofed huts with starving people inside? Is it a vast savanna with lions and zebras? Is it that song from The Lion King? I am here to…
Danielle Toop recently returned from the Dance Volunteer Program in South Africa. The month I spent over can be described as no less than the best month of my life! I was teaching a whole variety of people who are…
Performing Arts Abroad alum Timothy Kraemer is interviewed by GoAbroad.com about his experience music volunteering in South Africa. Check it out! *NOTE: This post has been backdated.
|Session||Application Deadline||Start Date|
|Session 3||Apr 02 2018||Jun 03 2018|
|Session 4||Apr 16 2018||Jun 17 2018|
|Session 5||May 07 2018||Jul 08 2018|
|Session 6||May 21 2018||Jul 22 2018|
|Session 7||Jun 04 2018||Aug 05 2018|
|Session 8||Jun 18 2018||Aug 19 2018|
Important Summer 2018 Dates
|Session||Application Deadline||Start Date|
|Session 1||Jul 09 2018||Sep 09 2018|
|Session 2||Aug 06 2018||Oct 07 2018|
|Session 3||Sep 03 2018||Nov 04 2018|
|Session 4||Oct 08 2018||Dec 07 2018|
Important Fall 2018 Dates
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
- 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.
- 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!).
- The Skype interviews are our first face-to-face impression of you. Show up on time, dress well, and be personable.
- 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.
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.
There is no foreign language requirement for this program, English is spoken widely in White River and South Africa.
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.
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.