How to Nail Your Cruise Ship Audition

by Elena Bonomo ’14Elena Bonomo 1

Working as a musician on a cruise ship is a great way to maintain your chops and sight-reading skills while traveling the world (and the best part is, you get paid for it). There are a number of cruise lines that hold auditions at Berklee for musicians and singers, and it’s an opportunity that everyone should take advantage of.

Here are the steps it takes in order for you to nail your cruise ship audition:

  1. Come Prepared

Make sure you read all of the given information on the audition sheet or website prior to your actual audition. Nothing is worse than when you show up unprepared. Know exactly what the panel will be expecting of you, meaning: which songs to learn, which scales to know, which grooves to prepare (for drummers), etc. Be ready to ask questions about what will be expected of you on the ship. How many shows will we play per day? How many hours do we work? Which types of venues will we be performing at? These are just a few examples, but asking questions expresses to the panel that you are genuinely interested in becoming part of their team.

  1. Dress Like a Professional

First impressions are extremely important. Make sure you show up to your audition dressed like a professional; something you would wear to a gig. This is what you’ll most likely be wearing when you perform on the ship anyway (usually the standard “all black,” or maybe even something more formal). The panel wants to know that this job is important to you – don’t just wear what you would wear to class.

  1. Be Confident

Confidence is key to a successful audition. It’s important because it applies to more than just the audition – it shows the panel that you will be confident in doing your job when they hire you. Stand up straight, make eye contact, shake their hands, and introduce yourself when your first enter the room. When you play your instrument, play like you would play at a performance. Of course you may be nervous – nerves get the best of all of us sometimes. But use your nerves as motivation to have the confidence to overcome them.

  1. Show Your Personality

The panel wants to get to know you as a person; they want to get an idea of how you’ll do on the job. If they end up hiring you, they don’t want to meet a different person then who they thought they met at the audition. Smile, laugh, and make some small talk for a little bit. They want to get to know you, and what you can bring to their company. A smile makes all the difference—it shows that you’re friendly, confident, and approachable.

  1. Send a Follow Up Email

After the conclusion of your audition, make sure to send a follow up email to a member of the panel who auditioned you. At the end of your audition, shake their hands, thank them for having you, and ask for one of their business cards. More often than not, they will give you a card with their information. Use this to your advantage! You now have their contact information—which means you can follow up with them.

After you complete these steps, all you can do is wait and hope for the best. But at the very least, following these steps will make you seem professional, serious, and driven. There are hundreds of other musicians who want this job – make your audition memorable and you will stand out among the rest.

Hailing from Cortlandt Manor, NY, Elena Bonomo is a drummer, percussionist, composer, and music educator. A recent graduate of Berklee College of Music, she holds a Bachelors Degree in Performance, Summa Cum Laude. Elena is an avid music lover whose style spans a number of genres from jazz, to musical theater, to rock. Her notable performances have included appearances at: Symphony Hall, the Berklee Performance Center, the Agganis Arena, the Fresh Grass Music Festival, and the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Center. Elena has toured nationally with Boston based Americana/Folk group, The Novel Ideas, with whom she recorded a full-length album, produced and engineered by Rick Parker (Lord Huron, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club). In January 2015, Elena became a Mission Jazz artist and a member of the Fellowship of the Swing; an artist advance held in Santa Barbara, California, led by Winnie Swalley and artist-in-residence, drummer Kendrick Scott. Most recently, Elena finished up a contract with Holland America Cruise lines, where she performed in the Bahamas, Aruba, Curacao, Panama, Columbia, Costa Rica, Spain and Italy. Elena has studied privately with Neal Smith, Bob Gullotti, and Terri Lyne Carrington and considers them to be her biggest influences.

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