That having been said, this post seeks to explain to you the wonders and magic of research as a hobby. Come with me to visit this enchanted land...
1. It's like shopping, without the expense.
I have always considered shopping to be a blood sport, the equivalent of football in my world. It's the thrill of the hunt, the endless possibilities in the next shoe store, the occasional pilgrimage to an outlet mall... With research, the same single-minded focus needed to find just the right dress for an event can be used in searching library catalogs. The thrill of new discoveries found tangentially when you're on the trail of something is like finding the perfect pair of jeans in a rack of polyester pants at 70% off. And you can look at the books or music all day in the library for free.
2. When there are expenses, they're fun ones.
When you're serious about doing research, sometimes the only way to get to the material is by going far afield to a major library or archive. That pretty much means a big city somewhere, so if you choose your topic wisely, you can visit some fabulous places. If you're in academia like me, you might even be able to get a little grant to help with the travel costs. Yes, it may be expensive, but didn't you want to go there anyway?
3. You meet cool people.
Like librarians. Librarians are amazing people. They are, for the most part, genuinely interested in helping you, fascinated to hear about your project, well-informed, and willing to go the extra mile for you. A wonderful music librarian at the British Library once personally mailed me a photocopy of an 18th-century sonata because the box it was in couldn't be located before I left the country, and he felt bad. Remember during the Bush years when they wanted to keep tabs on the books people checked out from the library, and librarians pitched a collective fit and stopped them? Remember who stood firm when certain factions were trying to ban various books? Cool people.
4. You can do a lot of research in your jammies.
Now that we have the interwebs and all, you can lie on the couch with "Room Crashers" blaring in the background and have access to more information than could ever be imagined twenty years ago. One of my favorite search databases is WorldCat, which allows you to hunt down pieces or composers in libraries all over the world (which is very helpful in trip planning). And if you really don't want to leave home, it's truly amazing what people will publish on the web (er, case in point...) If there's an arcane interest, doubtless someone will have a website somewhere with information. If not, you could be the first.
5. Unlike practicing the violin, when you write something it will still be in the same shape tomorrow that you left it in today.
Research is forever. Playing the violin can vary greatly from day to day. While violin is my first love, it is not a forgiving love. Research material will sit patiently in its file and be exactly as you left it when you come back three weeks later. Violin, not so much. With research, I could even go back to something I wrote over a decade ago and post it in the blog! It's nice to have something stable in life, when intonation practice becomes too daunting.
I could (and would) go on, but by now I hope I've convinced you of merry delights of research. Far from tedious grunt-work, it is a splendid world of opportunity and excitement. Dig in and happy hunting!