YOUNG zheng player Chan Yik-lai defeated 10 rivals with a captivating performance in the Class 501 - Zheng Senior category at the Schools Music Festival. The competitors tried their best to show off their skills and techniques through a set piece It's Spring in Lhasa . Adjudicator Cheng Chuen-ying, one of the most respected zheng performers in Hong Kong, was all praise for Yik-lai. ''The way Yik-lai presented her piece was very impressive, which is why I decided to give her an exceptionally high score of 95,'' Ms Cheng said. Ms Cheng, who had been regularly invited to be an adjudicator at the festival since 1991, said the 18-year-old winner showed a comparatively better music sense than others. ''It was difficult for me to believe that I had won because this was my first performance in the competition,'' said Yik-lai, who has been taking zheng lessons for about 21/2 years. She said that she chose to learn zheng because she loved its quality of sound. ''I was also inspired by my mother who is a keen erhu player. ''I sometimes find it hard to control my hands which begin to tremble when I have to perform before others. So I was a bit scared before the competition because I might not be able to perform properly if my hands did not stop shaking.'' However, the Form Four student of Ning Po No 2 College, said luck seemed to be on her side too. Besides, the presence of her music teacher at the competition helped her to overcome her fear. ''My music teacher, Mr Ko Wing-hang, and zheng teacher Ho Mei-shan, both had come to see my performance. So this boosted my confidence. ''But I found it a bit hard to maintain a good emotional control in the beginning. ''I kept telling myself that I had to try my best to bring out the emotion through my performance.'' The runners-up prize was shared by Fung Yuk-shan, 15, of Lai King Catholic Secondary School and Francis Wan Ka-wing, 13, of Maryknoll Convent School. Both scored 90 marks. For fourth former Yuk-shan, this was his fourth time in the competition. ''I was nervous during performance, otherwise I could have done much better,'' she said. ''I found the adagio part of the piece particularly difficult to handle.'' Francis admitted that she was not fully satisfied with her performance. ''I was not totally involved. I was nervous too and it affected my performance. ''I found the adagio and allegro parts very important; at the same time, it was difficult for me to control my hands well, especially when I was playing the allegro ,'' she said.