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Tue, Dec. 19th, 2006, 12:08 am

It's what I sometimes used to feel with music lessons. Shortchanged. Or perhaps, more accurately, I gave and got short measure.

It was the repeats that bothered me -- or rather the lack of repeats. It annoyed me immensely. I never got to play them either in lessons or in exams. I practised them. But they were somehow never required at any other time. And it really did bother me.

It wasn't even straight repeats. There'd be a da capo with two different endings. Number one was skipped over; we'd play number two and hurry onto the rest of the piece.

Of course, it was primarily down to lack of time, to fitting things into a very limited space available. At the time, I never felt I had an argument to counter that.

Now, we do the repeats. We practise them, we play them in lessons, and we perform them. I feel absurdly satisfied, despite the fact it is not my fingers on the keys. I feel that satisfied even when practising together, getting through everything we meant to work at, is a huge challenge.

Am I justified? Well, yes. There's something important in doing things properly. So if the composer wrote a particular set of phrases and wanted them twice over (or, indeed, or whatever number of times), then it's not correct to miss these things out. It's not a genuine interpretation. It may be some kind Reader's Digest condensed version, but it's not the real thing.

Then there's the whole notion of stretching how long a piece a performer can successfully attempt. Part of developing is to do bigger pieces: bigger in terms of range, in terms of technical challenges, and in terms of sheer length.

That's what I missed. It's not a problem for Mathilda.