Susan Harrop-Allin



Dr Susan Harrop-Allin has worked in the arts education and development sector for twenty years as a teacher trainer and project manager, initiating arts and music development projects in township and rural areas in South Africa. She was recognised for this work in the national Shoprite/Checkers Woman of the Year Award. Joining the WSOA staff in 2007 to teach the Advanced Certificate of Education, Ethnomusicology and Music Research, she now teaches Community Music, Critical Music Studies, the PGCE in Arts and Culture Methodology and supervises masters and PhD students as a full-time member of the music staff. She received her PhD in music education and ethnomusicology from Wits in 2010 and is now developing Community Music as a BMus 4th-year specialisation, and new area of scholarship and practice. Dr. Harrop-Allin serves on the editorial board of the International Journal of Community Music and is on the board of directors of two NGOs: the Johannesburg Youth Orchestra Company and Rena Le Lona Children’s Creative Arts Centre (in Diepkloof, Soweto). As an active musician, Dr Harrop-Allin performs with Il Trio Rosso, as an accompanist and sings with the Chanticleer Singers. 

Susan is committed to the inter-disciplinary project of the Wits School of Arts, particularly creating a vibrant intellectual community of academics, arts practitioners and educators. She is equally dedicated to coffee, collaboration and connecting music, cultural and social development with her love of the bushveld and all things South African.


Room 122A, First Floor, WSOA Building
Telephone+27 (11) 717 4608


Dr. Harrop-Allin’s PhD in Music Education and Ethnomusicology investigates the relationships between children’s musical games and formal teaching and learning, through an application of the Multiliteracies Pedagogy to music education in South African schools. Publications include four Arts and Culture textbooks (MacMillan), articles in SAMUS, The Southern African Review of Education,  Journal of the Musical Arts in Africa and book chapters in Teaching, Learning and Musical Identities: Voices across Cultures (Indiana University Press) and  Multimodal approaches to research and pedagogy: Recognition, Resources, and Access (Routledge). She has presented research papers at SASRIM, the International Learning Conference, Performing the World (New York), the International Conference of Young Children and the Arts (Singapore), Leading Music Education (Canada) and ISME’s Community Music Activity Commission (Greece and Brazil). 

 Her current research is closely linked to the Community Music course and the School of Arts’ community engagement project in haMakuya, northern Limpopo (in partnership with CBO, Tshulu Trust). Community Music and Drama for Life students work in primary schools in haMakuya, using music and storytelling to improve children’s learning and provide imaginative, creative experiences where their own agency and cultural resources are acknowledged. Susan is examining and documenting the integration of this programme in the Community Music course as a form of ‘service-learning through the arts’ and to interrogate what it means to use artistic practice to address social and other challenges articulated  by specific communities. 

HaMakuya Community Music 2014

“Arts for social Change”: Community Music interventions in haMakuya.

These photographs of the September 2014 Music and Drama for Life fieldtrip in haMakuya show Community Music students and children at Tshikalange Primary School.

HaMakuya Community Music 2014

One music student said that the haMakuya experience, working musically with children, and staying in a village for three days had changed many of her attitudes and perceptions of others. 

HaMakuya Community Music 2014

HaMakuya Community Music 2014

Having created a musical story with Grade seven primary school children for a week, in haMakuya, another community music student said that Community Music finally ‘made sense’, and she realised the value of a Community Music approach to teaching music.

HaMakuya Community Music 2014