Program Overview

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.

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 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.

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 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.

Host Group

The center where you will be volunteering 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.

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!”

“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


Making Music in Mpumalanga

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.…


Only in Africa

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…


Volunteering in South Africa, Where do I begin?

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…

Music Interview with PAA South Africa Music Alum, Timothy Kraemer!

Performing Arts Abroad alum Timothy Kraemer is interviewed by about his  experience music volunteering in South Africa.  Check it out!   *NOTE: This post has been backdated.

How it Works

The information on this page provides details for a sample group program. Note that every group is different, and we will work with you to cater the experience to your group. To connect with us and begin organizing a program for your group, please follow the “Get Started’ button below and submit an initial questionnaire. We will then contact you to set up a discovery call where we can go into more detail about your group’s needs and what we can offer.

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