"working as a cruise ship
guitar player",
a practical guide

all you need to know to work as the orchestra guitarist on a cruise ship

a practical guide focused on sight-reading

work on a cruise ship as a guitar player
trabajar de guitarrista en barcos de crucero libro


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work on a cruise ship as a guitar player


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This book, available in Spanish and English, reviews the main details that make up the life of a guitarist on board a cruise ship.


We will focus on the main skill needed to get and keep the job: sight-reading.


The most common thing will be that they give you the material to play minutes before the show or rehearsal, so you must be able to sight-read proficiently.


I will tell you what you should practice and what you should not focus your efforts on. When I was preparing for the auditions, I had no idea what I was going to face.


I knew how to read music at that time, but it was certainly not my strong point, since I learned 90% of the repertoire I had to play by ear.


I decided to study reading through jazz standards, and it was a mistake, it didn’t help me for what I needed.


As a guitarist on board a cruise ship, you are expected to be able to read riffs, melodies and solos at a very high level and be able to learn quickly and on the fly.

shows que vas a hacer como guitarrista a bordo de los barcos de crucero

types of shows you will play while working as a cruise ship guitar player

There are different types of shows on board a cruise ship. The most common will be:


Guest entertainers: invited artists who offer specific shows.


Production shows: shows that are repeated every week and are done together with the «cast».


Big band sets: jazz and dance music passes through the rooms and tracks of the ship.


Each show will require certain musical skills, always reading music being the most important.


Another key to success in this profession will be versatility: you have to be able to play any musical style.

We will work on sight-reading from several points of reference:


Melodic reading:

The most important thing will be that in the crucial guitar moments you are decisive and play with confidence and security.


Learning the most common solos and being familiar with the hits from all the decades will be extremely important.


Mastering the reading of phrases based on sixteenth notes, intervals and ledger lines will be essential.

Harmonic reading:

Rhythmic and harmonic reading will be what you will be doing for most of the time. It is convenient to master the compings in any style and be careful with the tempo and the sound.


Being familiar with the conduction signs will save you a lot of headaches.

Big band reading:

These charts are often for piano or rhythm section and not for guitar specifically.


You will have to master all the chord species and be able to nail them in the indicated rhythmic hits.

cruise ship guitarist: real examples

Apart from an endless number of scores made through my experience on board the cruises and designed exclusively for each section, I have also included numerous real charts taken from the shows on board the ships, for illustration and informative purposes.


Each score is linked to a section (melodic, harmonic, big band) and a specific reading exercise: funk, intervals, swing, ledger lines, etc.


There are also scores exemplifying each type of show and each type of most frequent style: Broadway, Motown, tribute group, Production Show, instrumentalist from the world of classical music, etc.

lectura a vista en el trabajo de guitarrista de barcos de crucero

work as a guitar player on a cruise ship: chart analysis

In the analysis section, I will explain all the steps to follow to successfully carry out this work.


I will try to convey to you the process that helped me to learn complicated sheet music at a great speed.


The most important thing will be to detect the critical points that can weaken our performance.


Usually, the moments that will demand the most from our reading ability will be:


  • Solos
  • Well-known riffs, intros and grooves
  • Tempo, time signature, and key changes
  • Genres far from the guitar language: classical music, Broadway, etc.

what i would have LIKED TO know when i started working as a cruise ship guitar player

In short, this book is a summary of all those things, both professionally and personally, that I would have liked to know before starting to work as a musician on these ships.


Undoubtedly, the lack of information in this area is what led me to dedicate all this time and effort to this book.


In the book, I will also give you information about how to get the job: where to go to get an interview, what the auditions are like, what documentation you need, what the first days on board are like, who your bosses and colleagues will be, etc.


In the same way I will tell you a little about life on the boat and the ship-life, although I am sure that my words will not be enough, since it is an experience that must be lived in first person.

I hope I have provided you with the necessary information so that you can know if this book would be interesting or not for you.


If you are interested, or know of someone who might be, do not hesitate to contact me.


And if you have any kind of doubt about this life, about this job, any query that you consider opportune or interesting, I encourage you to participate by leaving your comment in the section below.


So what do you say, would you work as a guitar player on board a cruise ship? Could you do this job?


Greetings and nothing else for now!


Edu Giro


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