Primary and secondary students should be exposed to more Chinese music, say musicians. According to figures from the Hong Kong Schools Music and Speech Association, only 1,710 out of the total 81,575 students in Hong Kong - about two per cent - will take part in Chinese instrument competitions this year. Professor Chan Wing-wah, chairman of the music department at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and a judge for the Hong Kong Schools Music Festival, said: 'Students should be introduced to Chinese music at primary and secondary levels.' Professor Chan said it was too late to develop students' interest at university. Dr Lam Ching-wah, the head of the music and fine arts department at Hong Kong Baptist University, said: 'The general public gives higher priority to Western music than Chinese. 'Playing Chinese music instruments should be taught at primary and secondary schools,' he said. Lam Fung, a judge of Chinese music at the festival for about 20 years, said: 'Although the number of participants increases every year, the performance standard has made only a little progress. 'Chinese music will develop when more instrumentalists from China deliver performances in Hong Kong,' he added. Professor Wang Guotong, head of Chinese music at Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, said: 'An examination scheme should be set up to give accreditation, as it encourages more children to learn how to play Chinese musical instruments.' He said the Music Office, which was experienced in organising competitions, should take the responsibility. Meanwhile, the 49th Hong Kong Schools Music Festival, which runs until March 15, has four per cent more participants than last year. Festival chairman Nathan Ma Ning-hei said the rise reflected the enthusiasm of educators, students and parents. The 24 judges include five from Britain, one from the United States, one from China and 17 from Hong Kong. At the end of the festival, one winner will be selected to attend the Aberdeen International Youth Festival, in Scotland, in August this year. Another will join the Pan Pacific Music Camps in Sydney. A series of prize-winners' concerts, jointly presented by the Urban and Regional councils, will follow immediately after the competition.