More Hong Kong youngsters are following in the footsteps of Botticelli angels by learning the harp, with parents encouraging this special option as a way to secure a spot in a prestigious school. Demand for harp lessons had steadily increased in the last three years and its appeal was multi-faceted, said professional harpist Joan Lee Wai-ying, who opened a home-based harp school in Sha Tin in 2008. 'Many parents want to widen the musical knowledge of their children but it's also because of the school admission test which requires a basic instrument like the piano but also a very special instrument like the harp,' Lee said, with the number of students at her school increasing fivefold since opening. More schools were introducing harps into their orchestras, which also drove up demand, she said. Across town, Hong Kong Harp Services in Wan Chai has also felt the trend with plans to expand the store which sells and repairs harps as well as offering lessons. 'It's been a steady flow, but it's still growing,' said office manager Kenny Se, who has more than 100 students on his books, ranging from three to 70 years old. The store imports harps from Italy and the United States, with prices ranging from HK$20,000 for a basic model suitable for a toddler to half a million for a concert grand. Coupled with mythical, goddess-like names such as Apollonia, Minerva and Aurora, the harp's enchanting appeal was not lost on Constance Tsang O-ying, 43, who started learning the instrument 15 years ago and now teaches 40 students. 'The harp can be romantic and the sound is angelic,' she said. 'Some pieces are very rhythmic. People always think of the harp as a soft sound, but it can be percussive and when you play it it's very expressive with the body language. When I play, it's like I'm talking to God. It feels peaceful, calm and crystal-like. 'Because the schools require special instruments, a lot of local parents look around for something special and choose the harp.' Grace Ho Chung-yan, nine, who starts Primary Four at the Chinese Methodist School in Tenner Hill next month, started the harp two years ago after her aunt's recommendation. 'The music is light, beautiful and not so dark. It makes me happy,' she said, with her favourite piece called Canon in D, a popular wedding tune. Stephanie Fong Wai-lam was just seven years old when she asked her parents for harp lessons after learning about it from a school friend. 'It's very elegant and in the pictures, they have angels playing,' the 11-year-old said, describing the sound as 'heavenly'. Stephanie, a Primary Six pupil at Diocesan Girls' Junior School in Jordan, said that the harp was becoming increasingly popular with young people.