A Day in the (rehearsal) Life of a Cruise Ship Singer
Unlike most people with “normal jobs,” my daily routine changes somewhat frequently.
Let me rephrase that.
My daily routine changes… all the time.
That’s the fun thing about being an artist or freelancer. Your life follows your job(s). Because, in a perfect world, your jobs are where your passion is. Not many people get to say that in their twenties, so I count myself as one of the lucky few who are currently fulfilled, and in a spell of employment.
Hamburg, my love
With that employment comes an intense dedication and schedule change. I’m no longer running along the beach in Portugal. Instead, I’m in chilly Hamburg (which is decorated like a winter wonderland) and in music and choreography rehearsals six days a week. But what does an average day in Hamburg, for a cruise ship singer, even entail? Apparently some people want to know. Shockingly, I love to share stories, so twist my arm! Let me show you what the life of a singer in rehearsals (in Germany) looks like!
7:45 am Wake Up
My usual morning routine includes rolling out of bed to set up my mini french press, then snuggling back into bed for five minutes, while I wait for the coffee to brew. Then a muesli bowl topped with banana, a quick shower, clothes (usually good to wear those), and I’m ready to head out the door by 9. If the weather is nice, I take my favorite form of transportation, the public bikes. But it’s drizzling 90% of the time in Hamburg, so most mornings I wind up taking the subway.
I also pack a lunch every day. I swear by fresh spinach topped with quinoa (so easy to prep ahead of time), a hard boiled egg, pumpkin seeds, and a fun sauce of some sort. Oh, and an apple. Every day. You know what they say…
There is always coffee.
9:45 Costume Fitting or German Lesson
There is no “typical day” during rehearsals, as there are random orders of business to take care of every week. But costume fittings are pretty standard. Just imagine standing in front of a mirror half-naked for awhile, with design geniuses trying to figure out how to make your sparkly ABBA pants longer. It’s in these moments when I realize how important it is to love what you see in the mirror… Too many people come out of these costume fittings a bit broken and bummed. Love yourself ladies and gents! Nobody else can do that for you. (Steps off soap box.)
Every Monday morning, I’m also lucky enough to have a German lesson with my kindred spirit of a teacher, Susanne. I’ve been making quite an effort to learn the language, and it’s pretty rad to work for a company that wants me to succeed. I mean, the company also wants me to speak words to the German guests besides “danke! danke! danke!” so it’s a win-win situation. Schön.
10:00 am Music Rehearsal
Normally, our days start with music rehearsal. AIDA’s facilities in Hamburg are stunning, and the “Entertainment House,” where we have our music rehearsals, is no exception. After dropping my dance clothes off in my locker, and grabbing a fresh cup of coffee from the kitchen (there is always coffee at rehearsal. ALWAYS), it’s time to learn some disco music! We have eight weeks to learn eight shows, so we move at a brisk pace. Sink or Swim!
(And a huge thank you to every music theory teacher around the globe. Your work is helping poor souls like myself, breeze through four-part harmonies in “Freak Out”)
11:00 Coffee break
In addition to the Entertainment House, AIDA has new rehearsal studios in a gorgeous part of Hamburg, similar to TriBeCa in New York, known as HafenCity. They are stunning. We’re talking huge windows, high ceilings… and no coffee machine. This is a serious drawback (not really. But when you’re a non-riffer trying to dissect pop riffs at 10 am, coffee is nice), especially since the other studios have fabulous kitchens with endless pots of coffee. Luckily we’re building a relationship with the folks downstairs (literally four floors down on the elevator) at Speicherstadt Kaffeerösterei, where they make a mean Americano and apparently have one of the best Franzbrötchens in town. (It’s a delicious cinnamon pastry that everyone should try once in their lifetime)
Oh right, I’m not just here to drink coffee. I sing! Along with three other talented artists from all over the world. We average learning 1-2 shows every week. By the end of the week, the goal is for the show to be memorized. Harmonies, cuts offs, everything. Hence, a lot of prep work is required in the weeks before starting the contract. So yes, I was that girl memorizing german pop lyrics in a coffee shop in Barcelona, during my “vacation.” The life of a freelancer is always an adventure…
In the afternoons, we meet with our rad, funky choreographer, Al. He takes us slowly through all of the moves and formations for the show we’re working on. Then we try everything a bit faster, and finally, with the music. If it’s a good day, we can sing as well. But normally, the first choreo rehearsals are a bit quiet. “Left foot kick, point! ball-change, oh right… YOU ARE THE DANCING QUEEN…” You get the idea. It’s that for four hours. And I kind of love it.
At the end of the week, we have a combined day of rehearsal with the dancers, called a “put in,” where we literally put the whole show together. It’s equal parts magical and stressful. But at the end of the day, creating a show with a room full of passionate, talented artists is the most fulfilling thing in the world. At least for weirdos like myself…
The magical hour when rehearsals are over. Normally, this means gym time for yours truly! Scattered throughout our weeks of rehearsals, we also have team activities sponsored by the casting department. My personal favorite is Urban Heroes, a super-trendy workout class with lighting so dark you can’t see the weight of the thing you’re lifting, and trainers so wonderful, you just might start to believe that your legs CAN move as fast as 16 kilometers/hour on the treadmill. Um, when you have a history of flying off treadmills like I do (three times. THREE times.) this is a big deal.
8:00 home sweet home
sometimes we have fun
Time to return home to my rented Hamburg flat, maybe have a cheeky glühwein with friends along the way, make dinner (I’m on a big soup kick at the moment), put on a nice Spotify radio station, and breathe. Before bed, I’ll normally look at the music for next week’s show, or memorize lyrics for the following day. BUT if it’s the night before our day off, it’s a different story. That means fun times for the AIDA Luna crew! Whether it be exploring a new cocktail bar, sampling the glühwein from every christmas market, or going to a show, there is one night a week when most casts try to make the most of our beautiful host city.
And then around midnight it’s bedtime, before beginning the dream all over again the next day.
What’s your typical work or rehearsal day like?
any similarities (or differences) to mine?
Leave a note in the comments section below
And for more on my love affair with Hamburg, click the Away We Go tab at the top, or the handy button below.