My first week as a freshman in college, I was given the swift kick in the rear that is Dan Bukvich’s music theory and ear training course. 5 days a week. Very intense. No whining. I loved it, though I fell into some of the traps he sets for students early on.

I remember the very first lecture. After no introduction and with 80 students cramped together on the rehearsal room floor, we were taught a rhythm and concentration exercise involving plastic cups. After 30 minutes of this, he gave a short introduction and wrote a few notes on the chalk-board. He quickly mentioned that we would be learning a lot of something called “solfege“, and also said that the Library of Alexandra, which held all the knowledge of the ancient world, was burned in 391 AD as collateral damage when Emperor Theodosius had all pagan temples destroyed. Just an anecdote.

Back for class the next day. Chairs all out in rows. Exam! Test! Your first test of the semester already. This WILL count heavily in your grade. Etc. Take out a piece of paper. Write you name down. The test is pass or fail. One question: What year was the Library of Alexandria burned? OK, times up, hand you test into one of the TAs.

The collective murmer of “oh crap…” that went up from the room was a CLASSIC moment. From then on, my eyes and ears were glued to Dan. You learn to love him. Or not. Within a week, the class was down to about 50. They decided they didn’t really want to study music after all.