Latest News and Updates

3 November 2016

Friday Afternoons is delighted to have been nominated for the Best Musical Initiative Award at the 2017 Music Teacher Awards for Excellence. The winners will be announced on 9 February 2017 and will be chosen by an experienced panel of judges.

Sponsored by the Royal Marines Band Service, the award recognises initiatives that have made a sustained contribution to the musical achievement of a significant number of people.

Shortlists for each of the awards can be viewed here:

7 October 2016

The deadline for this year's Project Fund is only two weeks away.

The fund, made possible by a grant from Arts Council England, enables you to apply for up to £2,000 support for your own Friday Afternoons project.

This month we have approved two further applications, making a total of six organisations who are receiving support so far:

- West Sussex Music Trust is working with 12 schools in Crawley, giving each a Friday Afternoons song to explore and a genre to adapt the song into; 
- Young Norfolk Arts Trust is working with choirs in Great Yarmouth and Norfolk to create a performance of the Friday Afternoons songs on 18th November; 
- David Ashworth is creating online training materials for this year's Friday Afternoons Songs;
- Saffron Hall is developing a vocal programme for schools in Braintree, and a project focused on creative response for schools in Uttlesford;
- Sectio Aurea is using the Friday Afternoons songs to build a term's worth of work with year 7 students at the new International Academy of Greenwich;
- Rutland Music Hub is delivering workshops in low-engagement primary schools, focussing on healthy vocal technique.

For more information and to apply, please click here.

5 August 2016

All of the Interactive Charanga resources for this year’s songs are now available on the Friday Afternoons website.

Every year since 2013 the team at Charanga has produced excellent resources for primary school teachers to explore the repertoire and learn the songs with their classes. This year, resources have been created for six of the songs written by Jonathan Dove and Alasdair Middleton: Three Birds, Little Girl of Rain, Laura, Fast Car, This is the Bird, and Snow.

For each of the songs, the resources allow students to learn about the composer, explore their own reactions to the music through listening and appraising exercises, learn to sing the song verse-by-verse, and finally perform the song using helpful lyric highlighting and automated page turns.

The resources are suitable for both generalist and specialist teachers, and can be easily accessed for free by logging on to our Song Bank – let us know what you think of them!

28 July 2016

We are happy to announce that notes are available for all signed videos of this year's songs, composed by Jonathan Dove. The notes, written by Dr Paul Whittaker, detail decisions he made in producing the videos and how to sign the songs.

The signed videos and their individual notes can be found in the Song Bank, but here is an introductory note from Paul on signing the songs.

I hope you enjoy watching the signed videos of Jonathan and Alasdair’s terrific songs and will have a go at signing some yourselves. Signing is a great way of learning and understanding the songs, and, of course, provides access and inclusion for those who may not be confident in, or even unable, to sing.

I’m aware that a lot of viewers may not know much about signing so here some general points. Notes on the individual songs can be found with their signed videos.

The approach to the songs is BSL (British Sign Language) and the emphasis is on the meaning and musicality. If you signed every word the sense of the lyrics would be lost, and there is no time to sign every word anyway! Imagine you are painting a picture with your hands and face: you have a blank canvas and need to describe what you are signing about.

Please do respect BSL as a language, and respect those who use it. It does have its own rules, grammar, etc and it’s estimated that there are 151,000 BSL users in the UK, of whom 87,000 are deaf. If a BSL user cannot understand your signing then you’re doing something wrong!

I’ve tried to make the videos as easy to follow but it’s always worth involving a local deaf person or BSL user to help you, if possible. The interpretations are entirely my own: you may well have a different interpretation, which is absolutely fine. Remember though, learning a few songs in sign language will not make you an expert. Like spoken Ianguage, BSL has lots of regional variation and it’s worth checking your local signs with a local BSL user.

f you’re keen to learn more then find a local BSL class, start a signing club or choir in your school. I’m happy to help and advise, even visit you to lead a workshop, so do contact me on or via the Friday Afternoons office.

Happy signing!

Paul Whittaker was born in Huddersfield in 1964 and has been deaf all his life. He has a music degree from Wadham College, Oxford and and post-graduate performance diploma from the RNCM, and for 27 years ran the charity "Music and the Deaf."

For many years he signed major musical shows across the UK and has also appeared at the Proms, Edinburgh International Festival and worked with The Sixteen choir, Rambert Dance and the National Youth Choir of Great Britain. For the past three years he has been working with Leif Ove Andsnes and Mahler Chamber Orchestra on their Beethoven Journey which included events in Hong Kong, Prague, Lucerne and Bonn.

In 2007 he was awarded an OBE for services to music, and holds Honorary Doctorates from the University of Huddersfield and the Open University.

Paul now works freelance and is delighted to be returning to Aldeburgh, having signed the original Britten "Friday Afternoon" songs and a performance of "Noye's Fludde" during the centenary celebrations two years ago.