Thought I'd jump in here with some of my experiences.
The code requirement kept me out of this hobby for many years since i was not sure if all of the effort to learn Morse code would be worth it.
I took all three tests at the same sitting and passed after a friend told me that there was no code!
Now that I have been in the hobby for a couple of years, I realized I do want to learn Morse code now that I can see some of the advantages. Besides, I am rather competitive and it bugs me that others can do something that I can't do!
However, it's not an easy road at age 59. I try to do 15-30 minutes of copy practice a day now for about 6 months.
I am partial to the computer programs, since they allow me to practice on my own schedule. The two that I like the best are the G4FON and "just Learn Morse Code" (http://www.justlearnmorsecode.com/
The second one has a 'mill" for typing what I hear @ 20wpm , then it grades me. very cool...
When I am "in the zone" , there is just me and the sounds. It's like an altered state of consciousness with extreme auditory focus. It definitely feels different.
I have not tried sending yet. I intend to hook up a keyer to the computer and have DM780 read out what I'm keying so i can be confident that my "fist" can be understood before I go "live".