The workload of the musical artisan at SE Technical

Andonopoulos (Alex Friedrich / MPR)

If there's one thing I've learned here, it's that the creatives and artisans work hard.

(Remember my visit to MCAD, after all.)

Student after student on this campus has told me: The instrument programs are like a full-time job. The pace is intense.

(And with the semester winding up, a lot of people looked stressed out because of a final project.)

Franziska Andonopoulos, a 23-year-old from Chicago, gets up at 5:30 a.m. Colin Samek of Iowa City, gets up around 6.

When they hit their guitar repair and construction class at 8, it's all focus all the time.

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Samek (Alex Friedrich / MPR)

First a lecture or demonstration for an hour or two, and then practice till lunch. Break for lunch, and then it's back to class for more work.

Both tell me you have to be alert and awake during class -- and take good notes. If you miss something -- especially a day -- it's tough to catch up.

They get out around four or five.

The first few months they get a little research homework on guitars, but after that there's not much they can do at home.

Still, they figure on a 45-hour week.

Andonopoulos says she's in bed by 10 or 10:30.

"I'm on my feet most of the day, and I'm mentally exhausted," she says.

She and Samek estimate that a third of the students or so wash out after the first month. Apparently, there's not a lot of hand-holding.

"A lot of people don't realize how intense it's going to be, and how much work is involved," she says.

They described Red Wing as a bit sleepy -- which is fine, since Andonopoulos says everyone is too busy or tired to do much, anyway.

The interesting thing is that Samek and at least one of the classmates I interviewed have college degrees -- usually English -- from major state universities. (Andonopoulos studied geology for two years, but says she dropped out because all the jobs seemed to be at large oil companies.)

Samek says he tired of the academic life, and so finds the change to hand-on work refreshing.

"There's no subjective arguing about whether a guitar is built right or not," he says. "You don't sit around arguing critical theory about what an angle is. And there's a tangible outcome. It's rewarding."