Latest News and Updates

11 November 2015

We are featuring the East Midlands as the second project in our Close Up series.

Name of Project: East Midlands Sings!

Name of Group: Music Education Hubs East Midlands

Date: 20th November 2015

Venue: Across the East Midlands


Friday Afternoons have been working closely with the East Midland hubs and as a result each of them are holding their own event on the 20th. Each hub has worked with schools around their area to sing all of the songs in the FA15 set. All of the hubs will join together and then, by the magic of technology, they will sing 'Rain' together using our livestream. We're looking forward to seeing the results!

27 October 2015

As November nears, and projects are well underway we have decided to give some examples of the types of activity going on as part of the Friday Afternoons project this year in a series of 'Close-Ups'.

Name of Project: Little Britten

Name of Group: Cambridgeshire Music Singing Team

Date: 9th November 2015

Venue: Cambridge Corn Exchange


16 schools from the Cambridgeshire area will join together for a concert at the Corn Exchange, Cambridge to be part of the Friday Afternoons project. The repertoire for this concert will include works from the Friday Afternoons Project (2013/2014), The Bird Song (Nico Muhly 2015), and pieces from Britten’s extensive catalogue written specifically for children’s voices.

Students will have the opportunity to learn some of his most well-known pieces with their own music teacher / choir leader and then share this with singers from across the region in a joint choral performance at the Corn Exchange on Monday 9th November, 2-3pm.


12 October 2015

Live Recordings from the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain Girls' Choir at the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford. Have a listen below!

17 August 2015

A note from Paul about signing the Friday Afternoons songs

These signed videos of Nico Muhly's Friday Afternoon songs are primarily in British Sign Language (BSL). In BSL the focus is on the meaning so you'll notice that what you sing may not be the same as what you sign.

In addition, I aim to show musical elements such as rhythm and volume.

I have tried to make these signed versions as simple and accessible as possible as I realise that many of you may not have sign language skills. Please respect the language: signed song is not a gimmick but something that uses an actual language.

Be aware that signs can vary from region to region, just as spoken language does. If you can find someone local who knows BSL to check on regional variation, great. The bottom line with any signed song should be, "If a BSL user is watching, can they understand me?" If not, then it's back to the drawing board!

Along with the actual signs, your posture, where you place the signs, your facial expressions and your eyes have to be considered. It seems a lot to take in but it's honestly not that hard and well worth the effort.

If you have any queries please contact me either direct on or via the Friday Afternoons office. Please note that these songs are my own interpretation. Some of the lyrics are quite straightforward, whilst others are more challenging.


About Paul

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.