They came in tossing their long locks artistically and trailing an aura of exoticism. Loyko are a Russian gypsy trio based in Dublin and they are helping to transform the image of the National Federation of Music Societies, the organisation which represents British amateur music-making. They combine soulful singing with witty, virtuoso acoustic guitar and fiddle playing and they soon had the assembled company smiling and tapping their feet.
Loyko were performing, not in a pub, their more usual habitat, but in an elegant Belgravia gallery for the benefit of BT executives, NFMS members and the arts press. We were celebrating the inception of The Music Experience, funded by Pounds 100,000 from BT and Pounds 250,000 from the National Lottery. Loyko will now be available for school workshops when they perform in various venues all over the country under the "New Horizons" strand of the initiative.
The vocal group, I Fagiolini, will also tour England with a specially composed "windows" piece to be prepared in advance with schoolchildren who will fill in the gaps with their own music.
As part of the Experience, frustrated singers of any age will be able to turn up and warble on 10 choral participation days. Another strand, "Young Promoters", will give teenagers training and marketing advice on how to manage concerts and set up music societies in their schools. For further information ring 0171 976 4930.
More music news. Northern Sinfonia is to undertake a three-year residency in Peterborough, funded by the city council and the Arts Council of England's New Audiences Programme, with the aim of increasing "music-making in the city at all levels". There will be workshops, events and performances in a variety of musical styles, including contemporary music and projects with the traditional group, Folkworks. During the first year, the theme will be "The Voice" and activities will be linked to the Year of Reading in projects involving the city's Asian community, choral societies, amateur and youth orchestras and adults with learning difficulties as well as school children of all ages. Themes for the second and third years are "The Drum" and "The Stage". Voice mail: 0191 240 1812 Meanwhile, in Somerset, Jackdaws Educational Trust continues its imaginative programme this autumn with six composition workshops in Frome schools led by composer Hywel Davies. For information about Jackdaws activities, ring 01373 812383.
The children of Chisenhale primary, in Bow, east London, have a new venue for their concerts - and for drama, PTA events and "as a shelter against the extremes of seasonal weather". Their Chisenhale's Baby Dome, made from the same materials as its big brother, was inspired by views of the Millennium Dome from the rooftop playground.
Next week is National Schools Film Week when 150,000 students will get the chance to attend free screenings and other events. One sixth-former has already started celebrating. He is 17- year-old Huw Jones, of King Edward VI School, Morpeth, who beat 1,200 other contestants in a competition devised by the charity Film education, to become Sky Movies' Young Film Critic of the Year.
He wrote a review of Six Days and Seven Nights when he and his class were set a course-work task. He says he played around with the 250 words and tried to include "little puns and catchy phrases".
He chose that particular film because he knew nothing about it in advance and so was certain he could not be influenced by other opinions. In the end, he didn't like it much, "It was not wacky enough to be a children's film, or clever enough for adults."
Huw's ambition is to be a television presenter or an actor. He will make his debut on Sunday when he reviews Ever After: A Cinderella Story to camera on Barry Norman's Film Night. He will also receive a "Norman" trophy (which he says looks like a curved film reel) and a year's free cinema pass.
Huw's achievement is considerable, and all the more remarkable because three of the 10 finalists in the competition come from his school, all taught by Jane Spowart. She says modestly that "the competition was the perfect way to engage the whole class in an exciting challenge while providing an essential piece of coursework." (For Film Education events: 0171 976 2291) October is Black History Month and Cultural Exchange Through Theatre in Education will provide workshops in London throughout the month. Using role-play and improvisation, CETTIE will concentrate on two "icons of black achievement", the Rastafarian Bob Marley and Sojourner Truth, ex-slave turned human rights activist. Two two-hour long in-service courses (in London SE8 and W9) will take place on October 15 and 23. Information and bookings: 0171 226 4016625 8569.