About Friday Afternoons

What is Friday Afternoons?

Friday Afternoons supports singing and song writing in schools.

It creates high-quality original music with an exciting array of contemporary composers, with young people in mind. It also creates resources and training, enabling teachers to confidently teach singing in schools and other education settings.

Song is at the heart of Britten Pears Arts – the parent charity of Friday Afternoons founded by Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears – as one of the most democratic and accessible forms of community music-making.

The Friday Afternoons vision is for every young person to have access to the joy of high-quality musical experiences through their voice. The songs and resources cater to a range of abilities for both young people and their teachers, ensuring both accessibility and challenge.

The resources are fantastic, I use them every single year with my youth and school choirs. Each new publication gives music leaders and teachers a wonderful source of songs that challenge, entertain and inspire young singers. Parents and audiences are astounded that young people are able to achieve this level of musical output, which is a testament to the skill in writing well for young voices

Matthew Roughley, Director of Sale Youth Choir

Why is it called Friday Afternoons?

Friday Afternoons is named after the set of songs composed by Benjamin Britten for the children at his brother’s school in Prestatyn, who always had a singing lesson on a Friday afternoon. It was one of Britten’s earliest examples of music that would be “useful” to a particular community.

We invite you to enjoy the songs any time of the week.

Why should I get involved with Friday Afternoons?

Unlike a lot of vocal resource providers, all songs in the Friday Afternoons song bank can be accessed completely free. This includes scores, lyric sheets, performance tracks and backing tracks.

The resources cover a range of abilities, not only for students but also teachers. If you aren’t confident leading singing with your students, there are a number of really accessible songs and resources, including lyric videos, so you don’t need to read music to use our songs and teach them to children. Our dot system (one dot being the easiest, five dots being the hardest) allows you to easily navigate the songs and find something suitable for your group.

Singing together as a class or a school can have a huge benefit on young people’s wellbeing, as well as improving a sense of school community.

The children are so relaxed singing. The confident deep breaths they learned to take really helped. They were really moved by the positive messages in the music

Angela Lesslie, teacher, Britannia Primary School

Who is Friday Afternoons for?

Friday Afternoons is aimed primarily at teachers in primary and secondary schools, and leaders of youth choirs. However, anyone is welcome to use the resources. Local singing groups, youth clubs, and community groups can all get involved.

How much does Friday Afternoons cost?

The songs and resources are provided online and are completely free to use. You will need to register for an account to access some of the resources.

How much time does it take to teach singing in schools?

We encourage schools to make time for students to sing together every day. This could be as a whole school singing assembly, or singing as a class or choir. It can be easy to implement singing daily within your classroom, for example as a tool for transitioning between lessons, or choosing songs that link to other areas of the curriculum to enhance lessons.

Where are the resources that were on the old website?

All resources will be available on our new website from January, as well as a new set of resources and pathways designed to help teachers write songs with young people. But if there are any particular resources you need before then, just contact us.

What composers are involved in Friday Afternoons?

Composers such as Roderick Williams, Jonathan Dove, YolanDa Brown, Errollyn Wallen, Russell Hepplewhite and Benjamin Britten have created original music for Friday Afternoons, with writers including Michael Rosen and Andy Shepherd writing original lyrics.

Following its tenth anniversary in 2023, the project will shift focus from commissioning songs to empowering teachers and young people to create songs together. A new set of resources and pathways will launch in January 2024, kickstarting a programme that will allow music made by young people to be performed by young people.

How often will new songs be added?

Over the last 10 years Friday Afternoons has commissioned a new set of songs to be released once a year, in either July or September. You can continue to access all the songs and resources from the archive at any time.

When did Friday Afternoons start?

The project began in 2013 as part of the celebrations for Benjamin Britten’s centenary. What was initially just a Suffolk project became regional, then national, then global, and on Friday 22 November 2013, there were close to 70,000 young people from around the world singing one or more of Britten’s songs.

Where does Friday Afternoons take place?

Friday Afternoons is an online resource produced by the charity Britten Pears Arts, based at Snape Maltings in Suffolk.

What is the Big Sing?

Every year the Friday Afternoons project culminates in the Big Sing at the famous Snape Maltings Concert Hall in Suffolk, with young people from schools around the county gathering to sing a selection of songs as part of a massed choir. The event is also live streamed to increase the reach across schools in Suffolk and Norfolk.

I can’t log in to my Friday Afternoons account, what do I do?

In September 2023, the Friday Afternoons website became part of the website of our parent charity, Britten Pears Arts. When you visit the new website for the first time, you will need to re-set your password to access member content.

  1. Go to any song entry
  2. Click ‘Sign in’ on the pop-up
  3. Enter your usual email, then click ‘Forgotten password’, and follow the prompts

If you needs help, feel free to contact us.

What are the contact details for Friday Afternoons?

We’re always happy to hear from you. Please email us to arrange a chat.

We are so grateful to our supporters, without whom none of our work would be possible. Visit Support us to find out how you can help.

Friday Afternoons is kindly supported by Mila Charitable Organisation, O & C Butcher, Alan Swerdlow and Jeremy Greenwood, and The Vernon Ellis Foundation.