Latest News and Updates

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.

13 May 2016

Project Fund 2016


Friday Afternoons is about encouraging young people to sing. Our newly composed songs and support material aim to help teachers develop their students’ skills – as performers, listeners and composers. The project was conceived as part of the Centenary celebrations of Aldeburgh Music’s founder, the composer, Benjamin Britten, with the initial aim of encouraging children and young people to sing. Since 2013, there have been more than 80,000 participants, from all around the world.

Aldeburgh Music is now committed to commissioning new songs on an annual basis, creating a song bank of repertoire for children and young people's voices. For each of the songs, teachers and choir leaders will find all of the resources required to take part on the website, completely free of charge. These include scores, lyrics, audio tracks, interactive resources from Charanga Music and signed videos.

We are thrilled that composer Jonathan Dove has written new songs for this year, set to specially written lyrics by Alasdair Middleton. Sheet music, backing tracks and other resources are available from our Song Bank, along with all of the songs from past years.

Through a generous Exceptional Award from Arts Council England we have been able to create a £15,000 project fund to enable partners to deliver activity and performance opportunities throughout the year, with a focus on digital delivery, creative responses, and working in areas of low engagement.

Who can apply?

The fund is available to support activity being developed specifically for the Friday Afternoons national singing project, and making use of Friday Afternoons songs.  In order to apply, you need to fulfill the following criteria:

- run activity throughout the year, working towards a culmination event
- signpost and promote the project to other parties throughout the year
- adhere to the Communications brief (to be sent if successful)
- adhere to the Monitoring and Assessment brief (to be sent if successful)

What are the activity priorities?

All projects should include at least one of the following priority areas:

- Digital
- Creative Response
- Working in areas of low engagement

Applications can come from individual organisations or consortia within the UK.

How much can be applied for

There is total fund of £15,000 available.  Grants of up to £2,000 are available with a lower limit of £500.  While match funding is not an essential requirement, it will help your application if there is evidence of fund raising for the project or match funding is offered from another source.  Salary and consultancy costs cannot be included in your application.

What are the key dates?

Activity:  this fund is for activity taking place between June 2016 and 31 March 2017.

Apply from:  Friday 13th May 2016

Decision: You will hear back from us within four weeks of submitting your initial application.

Closing date: The deadline for applying to our Project Fund is 21st October 2016. 

How to apply and the process

You will need to complete an application form following the guidelines below.  Please note that we will only accept applications through our online form.   

The Application: what to include

Outline in bullet point form how you are meeting the following criteria:

- running activity during the year, in the form of CPD, training, workshops, singing activities, performances
- signposting and promoting the project to other parties throughout the year
- delivering an event as part of the national celebrations throughout the year
- how you are fulfilling at least one of our three activity priorities

Your application should cover the following points, in no more than 1,500 words:

- What the overall aims and objectives are
- How your project will be delivered and to whom (approx numbers, ages and any other relevant information)
- When will your activity be taking place (please include a project schedule)
- Total cost of project and how much you are applying to us for
- Details of how the money will be spent (please include a budget showing all income and expenditure including any other funding secured or applied for)

Monitoring & Evaluation

You will be provided with a simple monitoring form and asked to complete and return it within a specified period of receiving grant funding, together with a written evaluation report and final project budget at the end of the project period.

In the event of any failure to comply with monitoring requirements, or any other discrepancies, Aldeburgh Music reserves the right to reclaim all or part of the grant made pro rata on a sliding scale per month over the term of the Funding Agreement.

Projects that do not start within 6 months may be asked to repay the grant in full, unless otherwise agreed in writing by Aldeburgh Music.

You are not allowed to change the nature of their project, as identified in the application form, unless agreed in writing beforehand by Aldeburgh Music. If agreement is not given groups may be required to repay the grant in full or in part at Aldeburgh Music’s discretion.


Please complete our Project Fund application form, which can be found at