Talented Renee Ma Siu-yu is 11 years old, and has already accomplished a great deal in her young life. Apart from being a top Primary Six student at Diocesan Girls' Junior School, she has won a selection of music and language awards. Renee is a performance level student for both violin and piano, achieving a standard normally only reached by students over 18 years old. She is also an outstanding recorder player and singer. In the 60th Hong Kong Schools Music Festival held in March, she won first prize for a lullaby recorder duet with her teammate. The adjudicator said she had 'sensitively responded to the music'. In the same festival held last year she also clinched first place for a violin concerto. 'Beautiful, bright and brilliant articulation,' the adjudicator remarked. Renee won another honour in her violin performance organised by The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music held in August 2006. 'She is definitely a prodigy,' says her violin teacher Cheng Yat-wah, who teaches at the Academy for the Performing Arts (APA). 'She is one of the handful of talented students I have ever come across, possessing an extraordinary strong feeling for music.' Renee takes an hour-long violin lesson twice a week, and with such outstanding results, Mr Cheng describes her as 'incredible'. Renee showed an affinity for music at the age of four when her mother took her to a concert where she was inspired by the beautiful violin rendition of a little girl. She urged her mother to take her for lessons. 'I thought she was too small and since we had a piano at home, I let her learn that first,' recalls Renee's mother, Julia Ma. Two years later, Ms Ma took her to a playgroup to learn the violin. After an audition, the teacher recommended Renee take lessons at the APA, believing that her unique talent could be better developed in an established music institute. Since then Renee's passion for music further flourished. She also learned the recorder and joined the APA choir. Leafing through pages and pages of winning certificates kept in a thick box file, a beaming Ms Ma stresses that she never puts pressure on Renee to learn so many things. 'It's all initiated by her love for music. She wants to learn and since we have the resources, we let her try.' Renee's diversified talent also includes art and languages. She attends Chinese painting and Putonghua lessons and won the first prize in a Putonghua storytelling competition. Ms Ma admits that Renee is a gifted child. 'Her teachers and school principal spotted this, but I never took her to any IQ tests to check her intelligence. I don't want to compare her with her elder sister who may feel inferior.' Renee's daily timetable is packed. After she finishes school, she attends music lessons or interest classes until 6 or 7pm when she returns home for dinner. Then she does her homework. Ms Ma says parents can't force their children to do things in which they are not interested. 'They won't do the things well unless they love and enjoy them. 'Renee is eager to learn and concentrates on what she does, so she can finish things efficiently. She even makes use of the time while travelling to school and recites to me.' As with other children, Renee also likes playing computer games and watching television. But she understands that if she indulges in these activities she won't be able to pursue other interests. She knows her priorities and is disciplined. Ms Ma gave up her career after giving birth to her two daughters and devotes most of her time taking Renee to different courses. While she finds her day hectic, Renee enjoys every session and never complains. Renee plays her favourite game, badminton, and swims at the weekend. On meeting Renee one feels her happiness and satisfaction. 'I am never under pressure in my schoolwork and the various interests I pursue,' says Renee. But she admits that not everything she learns is easy. 'Whenever I face difficulties, I practise more to improve and strive for perfection.' Life to Renee is not all roses; she has her moments of disappointment. The 60th Hong Kong Schools Music Festival was suspended midway through due to the flu scare, depriving many students, including Renee, of competing in some parts of the contest. When looking to the future, she says: 'I love science. I want to be a medical doctor, but music will remain my main interest.'