Like many Asian parents, Carmen's father was not keen on the idea of his daughter becoming a musician; he wanted her to choose a career in business. So Carmen did not tell her parents about auditioning for a place at the academy until she received a letter confirming she had a place.
Carmen's passion for music has since persuaded her father that being a musician is a serious career. "I'm very aware that competition between pianists in Hong Kong is really keen," she says. "Hong Kong still lacks opportunities for young artists to further develop their music talents, but I am prepared to overcome this as I really love playing the piano."
The first time she went into a music shop she could not stop hitting piano keys with her fingers. "I can't explain why I loved it," she says. "But it was love at first sight."
Carmen has been playing the piano every day since she was five; no matter how busy she is, she finds time to practise - more than sixhours at weekends, and at least one to two hours on other days even if she has work to do.
By the time she finished primary school, she had already achieved Level8 on the piano. But at secondary school, she felt pressure over "pursuing a serious career", she says. "My father wasn't keen on me being a musician. I wasn't sure if music was going to be my career, so I didn't pursue my piano performance certificate. I felt lost."
Yet securing a place at the academy revived Carmen's passion for music. "I didn't even know about the academy holding an audition in Hong Kong," she says. "My friend told me about it and helped get an application form. I must thank her for encouraging me to stick to doing what I truly love."
Carmen, 17, says she knows what she wants to do as a career. "I would like to be a professional pianist and promote music to the public by composing a new style of music that combines classical works and my own compositions," she says. "Even if I fail to become a musician, I'm still willing to share my passion about music with the public through other ways - be it through teaching or promotion work."
Before she goes to London, Carmen has another musical ambition - to win next month's Dream Stage 2013 contest at Queen Elizabeth Stadium.
She is one of eight finalists hoping to win the first prize of HK$50,000 by sharing their dreams in the talent competition, which is being held for the third year.
"Through the contest, I've met many young people who share the same dream as me," she says. "Their support and stories inspired me to follow my dream of being a musician.
"It's important in life to let your heart guide you, whenever you are in doubt," she says. "You just need to be patient and never give up your passion. Only then can you make your dream come true."