PROFESSOR David Gwilt has been honing students' music skills at Chinese University of Hong Kong for 25 years. And this month the university presented Professor Gwilt - who began his music career in Hong Kong after leaving Britain in 1970 - with an award for long service. The veteran musician said the music department's numbers and reputation had risen since he joined the university. Professor Gwilt said: 'I remember there were only four students in my first music theory class,' adding that most students who studied Western music were sent overseas. 'During the 1970s, our department struggled to gain recognition in the community.' Now, however, the department had an average of 20 full-time students studying for their bachelor degrees each year, he said. And, to broaden students' outlook and music experience, the department had added Chinese music to its courses. Every music student had to learn one Chinese instrument as their 'second instrument' for at least a year, he said. Courses were also offered in Chinese music theory and history. Apart from the inclusion of Chinese music in the undergraduate curriculum, the music department had successfully developed a part-time degree programme as well as a post-graduate programme in the 1980s. Professor Gwilt said he was pleased to report that over the years music had become more acceptable as a degree major, particularly among male students. 'Some time ago I had a male student who majored in music but while doing so he was telling his family he was majoring in some other subject.' But this prejudice no longer existed. Fourteen other staff members received long service awards, including Professor Ambrose King, the university's Pro-Vice Chancellor, and Andrew Wong Wang-fat, a lecturer in the Department of Government and Public Administration and Legislative Council chairman.