When I was studying at university, I took weekly violin lessons. Every Friday, I would pack up my violin and my music and make my way to the music building (which was inexplicably located off-campus) for an hour-long lesson with Mrs. S. For each lesson, I had to prepare a scale or two and work on the solo part of a concerto or other work for violin. We also worked on the dreaded and difficult topic of music theory. Obviously, that meant I had to practice during the week. For my lessons, I received three credits a semester, which is the same amount I received for regular classes that met for three hours a week (either in three one-hour increments or two one-and-a-half hour increments).
For some reason, this really bothered my friend B. She was not (and is not) a musician. (This fact may seem unrelated, but I suspect it explains a lot.)
“I can’t believe you get three credits for doing that!” she’d fume when I went off to my violin lessons. No matter how much I tried to explain that I did the same amount of work (if not more) for those one-hour lessons as I did for my three-hour lecture and seminar classes, she just couldn’t believe it.
Now, it’s pretty hard to explain actual violin playing to someone who doesn’t play an instrument. Basically, you’ll play something for thirty seconds, if you’re lucky, before your teacher stops you and tells you everything you just did wrong. Then you have to play it again and fix what they just told you was wrong. And believe me, there’s always a lot wrong and it takes a lot of tries to fix it properly. That sounds really negative when I put it that way, but it’s actually fun if you like the instrument and want to get better (which I did, and I do).
However, I can partially demonstrate the difficulty of music theory. I’ve been learning some music theory on my own—I’ve never taken a formal class in it and want to learn more beyond the basics than what I know—and one of the resources I’ve used is this “Music Theory for Musicians and Normal People.” This stuff is hard, everyone. That’s not news to me—and probably isn’t news to most of you!—but in case there are any people out there with friends like my friend B. who think music is a “soft option” or whatever—well, now you can set them straight!