Volunteering is one of the most rewarding experiences a person can have, and at the CMDA we ensure all of our volunteers leave with the knowledge that they have been a part of meaningful music development programme in the heart of the African bushveld.

You will participate in the day to day activities of the CMDA.  If you have a particular skill that is aligned with our programme, we will ask you to manage that module or showcase your particular talent.

Our project is to develop professional musicians and bands in White River (or Mashishing) and you will need to be invested in this outcome.  You should be energetic, brimming with ideas and willing to share your skills and knowledge.   Most of the students do not have great academic qualifications and will not have studied music as a subject.  They can all play instruments and can improvise.  Our course is designed to equip this class of students with the skills and tools to become a professional.

As an aside, all of our students have to learn South African classics, which is part of a “South African Music History” show that is performed weekly.  If you love South African music, this will appeal to your interests.

We are otherwise keen to host volunteers that can assist our students with academic subjects, song writing, playing and performing.  The experience that you bring will be vital to the development of our students.


Most volunteers are hosted in a family home where you are provided your own bedroom and private bathroom.  When hosted, breakfast and dinner is included and you will be provided transport to and from work.  Hosting is not a hotel service and you will be required to fit in with the family routine.  It will include assisting with meal preparation and cleaning up after yourselves.  All laundry and ironing will be included in your stay.

You will need to enjoy pets, as most homes have either cats or dogs or both.

Note: Volunteers are often asked to spend time in our centre in Mashishing, especially if their stay is several weeks.  Here, you will stay in a guest-house where breakfast is provided.


Internet varies from location to location.  At the CMDA you will have access to decent internet speeds that will allow you to Skype home.  Otherwise all internet is fit for instant messaging and web browsing.  Live streaming in some homes is not possible.  Even the most ardent digital travellers have survived our sometimes-slow internet.

Some Advice

You can drink the tap water here in White River.  The quality of food and styles are similar to what is available in Europe and the USA and you will not go hungry.  So is the dress code similar.   For more information on the town and what to expect, please visit We Are White River.  You can even download the White River app for Android and Apple.


There is no Uber (unfortunately) but you will be able to travel by private taxi when required.  However, most of your travel will be taken care of by your local hosts.


Throughout your programme you will have the support and guidance of the programme co-ordinator and team. You will be provided with competent assistance and help with any questions or advice you may need during your stay. In addition, you will have access to a 24 hour emergency contact number so you can contact one of our South African staff at any time should you need to.

Volunteer Organisation

The CMDA works closely with Performing Arts Abroad (PAA).  They operate a global volunteer programme and will provide you the assurance you may need to volunteer in Africa.  They oversee our programme and will put you in touch with others who have volunteered at the CMDA.

Apply at PAA

Questions Worth Asking

With Voluntourism being one of the fastest growing travel industries on the planet, it’s vital that volunteers are confident they are selecting the right project both for their skills and to ensure that their time is spent benefiting the community. You want to leave knowing that your efforts have made a solid difference to the lives of the people you’ve reached.  It makes sense, then, to ask the following questions and we are confident that the CMDA passes with flying colours.

Is the CMDA the right Organisation?

When you volunteer with the CMDA, you are dealing directly with a grassroots organisation that is reputable and focused on creating a future for young people. We’ll place you in the correct slot for your skills and interests.

Will my placement benefit the Community?

The CMDA plays a role in developing and growing music skills amongst students who do not have access to conventional tertiary education. We insist on discipline and dedication, without which our students will not achieve the standards we set for them to achieve their goals.

Am I suitable for this placement?

Could you tutor music students in your home town? Do you have competent skills across the broad range of music industry jobs? Are you passionate about sharing your knowledge and skills and watching someone grow? Are you English speaking? Are you patient? You sound perfect to us!

I’m pressed for time?

Most organisations will require lengthy stays to build relationships, however, the CMDA has already created a learning framework, which means that even if you only have two weeks to spare, you can make a difference to our students. Previous volunteers have been overwhelmed by how much THEY have learned from the students. And after all, music is universal so your learning curve is minimal.

What will I do and what is expected of me?

We have a very low staff complement and rely heavily on digital learning to deliver content. We have adopted a tough approach in that students need to solve their own problems, whilst meeting the standards we set. We believe we’re preparing them for the real world. You will mentor and facilitate our students, helping especially those that need some TLC. You’ll also be required to critically review our learning materials and help us deliver a world class product to a deeply rural cohort of aspirant musicians.

What happens when I leave?

The experience and knowledge you have shared with our students will remain with them forever, and you will leave knowing that you have truly made a difference. If you wish to continue actively participating in our project, you can help us by continuing to mark our students project work which is all online.