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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » New to magic? » » I'm new(ish) to Magic and Performing, wanting some advice on nerves (9 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Remythologizing
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So, I've been practicing magic for about 7-8 months, and have done a few performances for extended family and did one effect once for some friends.

I, however, find that when I perform it never seems to be on my terms which seems to throw me off, I couldn't imagine what would happen if I met a hustler as my style at the moment is kinda bland and plain. Any tips for this? It's not that I struggle performing sleights, it's just my lack of explanation and how random my patter is. I always find myself after an effect thinking "OK that went decently, maybe if I . . ." how can I stop this? Tips or ideas would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance, Remyth.
danaruns
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There is a lot about your post I don't understand, like the "on my terms" bit, and the reference to a "hustler." What I do get is that your style is "kinda bland and plain," and your magic has a "lack of explanation" and "random patter."

I suggest that the first thing you do is write scripts for every trick you perform. Write them, rewrite them, and then memorize them and say them word for word when you perform. And do not fall into the trap of narrating your moves. By narrating I mean saying things like, "Now I'll put your card back in the deck and shuffle, then we'll cut the cards, now I'll deal five cards into a pile..." etc.

You hit on an important word: perform. Magic is a performance. So perform! You wouldn't walk out on stage in front of 2,000 people without knowing exactly what you were going to say first, and you wouldn't show your magic in a bland and boring way, you'd make it entertaining. So, even if your audience is just your family, perform! Scripts, style, character, flare, humor, mystery...whatever fits your magic, put it into your performance.

Let me give you an example. And this would be a good guy to study (he posts here, by the way). This is Pop Haydn.



Watch his first trick on the video. It's called the Chicago Surprise. Listen to what he says. It's a script. You can search YouTube for "Pop Haydn Chicago Surprise" and you'll find a dozen or so videos of him performing this trick. And while he responds to his audience, he follows his script every time. Listen to the lines he wrote that make the performance engaging and entertaining. See how it serves the magic. Notice his timing. This is best done when you watch several performances of the same trick.









And the way he does it for a difficult volunteer.



Study these videos. They are a master class in scripting and performing. Now, of course you don't have to be Pop Haydn. You don't want to be. You want to be you, especially if you are just performing for friends and family. But make no mistake, even when you are doing magic for a couple of friends, they are an audience, and you must entertain them. You'll see lots of people here post that magic is not inherently entertaining, you must make it that way. And the way to do it is by going to the next level in your learning and incorporating scripting, character and performance. The sleights and element of a trick are maybe 20% of what you need to bring to it. The other 80% is your performance. As Robert-Houdin famously observed, "A magician is an actor playing the part of a magician." What would an actor do? He'd learn his lines, he'd know the gestures and body language, and he'd connect with his audience. Start doing that.
"Dana Douglas is the greatest magician alive. Plus, I'm drunk." -- Foster Brooks
WitchDocChris
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This is my advice - others will have other advice, I'm sure. This is what works for me.

First thing's first - write a script for every trick. Second step - practice, and rehearse those tricks with those scripts. Practice is going over the physical methods and deciding where the lines of the script go. Rehearsal is pretending to perform the trick for real people. So you say the lines out loud, as you're performing, and you go through the trick as if it were a real performance. You do this until you get comfortable delivering the lines as you do the physical motions (the blocking). Then you do it until delivering those lines becomes automatic. Essentially anchoring the script to the physical actions of the method.

I find that the vast majority of issues that people have when they are new are related to not practicing and rehearsing enough before trying to perform.
Christopher
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Psycho Seance book: https://tinyurl.com/y873bbr4
danaruns
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Chris has excellent advice. He said what I was trying to say, but he said it much better.

I'm not sure why my video links didn't work. Just go on YouTube and search "Pop Haydn Chicago Surprise" and watch the videos.
"Dana Douglas is the greatest magician alive. Plus, I'm drunk." -- Foster Brooks
The_Mediocre_Gatsby
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Hi Remyth. Andy at thejerx.com has a series of posts that might help you called Project Slay-Them. Below are the three posts in order. The final idea is available in the first issue of his magic magazine the JAMM.

https://www.thejerx.com/blog/2016/1/4/pr......y%20them

https://www.thejerx.com/blog/2016/3/14/p......y%20them

https://www.thejerx.com/blog/2016/6/20/p......y%20them
Mindpro
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Quote:
On Sep 22, 2018, WitchDocChris wrote:
I find that the vast majority of issues that people have when they are new are related to not practicing and rehearsing enough before trying to perform.


Great advice offered here so far. I will add my two cents as a bit of further advice.

One of the problems I see with many beginning magicians is they focus on the trick (itself) not the performance or presentation of it.

As others have said the practice and rehearsal will cover the proper execution of the trick, but it is the performance and presentation of the trick that will both make it a performance and entertaining and give you the results (and confidence) you are seeking/missing.

Yes, scripting is part of focusing on the performance rather than the trick. Once the script is in place, create the performance of that script with the execution of the trick. Work on movements, narrative, personality (it must be entertaining and interesting to others) and also transitions (how to move from one trick to the next smoothly and fluently) which is a missing factor for many performers.
Remythologizing
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Wow, I'm astounded at the suggestions you guys have given me, so thanks! I'll try the advice of writing up the script and rehearsing, it seems like a fantastic idea. I'll watch the videos you guys provided and I'll read through the posts from Andy at thejerx. Thanks for the suggestions, I'll be sure to try them out.

P.S I guess autocorrect either got to me or I incorrectly typed my statement, I didn't mean hustler, I meant heckler, sorry for the confusion guys.
misterbill
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While there is such a thing as true heckler, don't confuse someone who asks questions or wants to be engaged in your magic with a heckler. Keep in mind that your friends and family know you as you not as a magician and they will feel they have more leeway with you. Some people will feel that all you are trying to do is make a fool out of them, they aren't hecklers, they just don't want feel stupid when they get fooled. Learn audience control and always stick to your scripts (patter).
"To let understanding stop at what cannot be understood is a high attainment.
Those who cannot do it will be destroyed on the lathe of heaven." - Chuang Tse
Dick Oslund
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Hey Remy! (first names here!)

You've had some great suggestions dropped in your lap!

Perhaps, I can add a few more, or possibly further "explain" a few things....

One PRACTICES "SKILLS". One REHEARSES "PERFORMANCES"

So, Write a script. >>>IMPORTANT<<<!!!!! You must COMMUNICATE! Talk WITH, NOT TO, your spectators In plain language. Hold a conversation WITH them. Sometimes, I ask a question, either to the group, sometimes to just one person. Your audience must feel INVOLVED. (Passive people can easily get bored.)

Now, write it.Practice delivering your 'message" to an imaginary audience. Record it if possible. Listen to it! Rewrite anything unclear.

By the third time you've done this, it should be much better. You'll probably notice the improvement yourself.
Next rehearse the PERFORMANCE, from beginning to end, without stopping. Remember as Mind Pro said, focus on your PERFORMANCE AND PRESENTATION.

You must realize that >>MAGIC IS NOT INHERENTLY ENTERTAINING<<

Your PRESENTATION is what MAKES MAGIC ENTERTAINING. In simpler terms, it aint WHAT ya do, it'd HOW ya do it!!

To sum up, these are the rules for putting a trick into your show:

1. Learn how the trick is DONE.

2. Learn how to DO it.

3. Learn how to DO it, so that it ENTERTAINS someone.

I've been performing for 70 years. 20 as a part time professional, and 50 as a full time professional. I traveled coast to coast, and, border to border. I was never out of work. Agents/managers called to find out when I had open time.
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Vitas White
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What everyone else has said thus far is brilliant. Just remember, most spectators aren't out to get you and expose your methods, they're watching for a show, they want to believe! Not every show is Penn and Teller's Fool Us, as much as it might feel that way at the moment. Just remember that mistakes happen, and you can recover from those with ease depending on the effect. Most importantly, have fun with it! If you're having fun, chances are your audience will too!
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it now. Boldness has genius, power, and magic at its core.
Theodore Lawton
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Great answers. I would add that, strictly speaking, for nerves there are some other practical things you can do to help before a performance. Many of these can be found in books on public speaking at your local library, which can also help with presentation to some extent.

When the nerves strike before a show, and as a great way to prepare in general, focus on your breathing- take some long slow breaths, hold them and let them out slowly to help steady your breathing, this will help calm you down. Flex, hold and then relax your muscles in your entire body, this also helps you to relax. Make yourself smile, this creates a positive mental state. Visualize yourself being successful in your performance. Recite a favorite inspirational quote, saying or Scripture.

There are other tricks to getting a grip on the nerves as well, but if you have practiced and rehearsed these can definitely help. Then, after one or two tricks you should be more calm and enjoying yourself.

Oh! And try to avoid caffeine and sugar for several hours before a show.
Magic is the bacon in the breakfast of life.

............................................

God bless you and have a magical day
Ray Bertrand
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Theodore Lawton wrote: "Oh! And try to avoid caffeine and sugar for several hours before a show." I'm lost without my caffeine fix. You have had some fantastic advice. One of my mentors suggested I write my script, perfect my execution (rehearsal) and be able to perform my entire routine flawlessly in the morning before my first cup of coffee. He said when I could do that, then I was ready to perform. Theodore Lawton also suggested visualizing yourself being successful. Extremely good advice.

Ray
EnterTRAINment at its best. Keeping the Magic Alive in Northern BC
Vitas White
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Good luck with your upcoming performances! Make sure to let us know how they go!
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it now. Boldness has genius, power, and magic at its core.
Ironjim
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Thanks for all the advice. I have plenty of nerves when showing magic. First, I'm an amateur. But you have to perform magic - you can't just practice in front of a mirror all the time... But man, the nerves are holding me back.

I want to hit the streets, or push to a restaurant or go to local events and perform. Nerves are killing me though.

I appreciate - write a script and practice practice practice.... But heck that's just one more thing for me to forget. Again, nerves.

Getting in front of people doesn't really bother, I often do presentations at work, in front of colleagues, I've trained more that 50 at a time, and I just did one for an Executive Board at another location and blew them away.

But when I want to run an effect - My breathing gets crazy, my hands shake - And these are effects that I've PRACTICED. Like a lot. I'm afraid of exposing the method (huh, that could be one of my hang ups).... I still do it - and I've gotten some great reactions... I've gotten squeals of delight, a "NO WAY!" , lots of giggles, as well as the finger from a colleague, good stuff all in all.

I do want to show more and perform more - these darn nerves...

I will work on the routine design and script - but still looking for more ways to beat these nerves.

Here's something, it's the nerves, right before I start the effect - During I'm ok- - just a little, shaky, but I do relax into it.
WitchDocChris
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It's commonly said that fear of public speaking is the number one phobia in the US. With death being the second. Which means in the US, at a funeral, people would rather be in the coffin than giving the eulogy. (not my joke)

A friend of mine, David (not sure if he posts here or not), says that the nerves pop up because we're worried that the audience won't like what we're doing. Aside from preparation, I do agree that's probably the major cause of the nerves and shakes. So after one has prepared thoroughly, if you're still feeling shaky - that's still normal. Make sure you open with something that doesn't require difficult sleight of hand, and that is also fun and engaging. Once you see your audience enjoying the magic (assuming they do), you'll probably calm down.

It's also absolutely true that the more you perform, the easier it is to cope with nerves. Many professionals get nervous before a show but they've learned to work around those nerves or embrace it. I remember listening to an interview with Harry Andersen where he said he always had to have water on stage because he got cotton mouth from nerves at the start of a show.
Christopher
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Psycho Seance book: https://tinyurl.com/y873bbr4
jcfischer
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First post here, and I’m not a magician (I only recently got interested in it again (see below)) but an amateur musician. I have performed my music and songs for a couple of years, and I know about the nerves thing. It’s normal and it gets better in my experience. Practice performing. Performing for friends or family in the beginning is as daunting as performing to unknown people. Things go wrong, you make a mess - and it is ok. Here’s what my experiences are:

- meditate or breathe before a performance (as mentioned above)
- learn to accept that you are you. You will never be Famous Person XYZ and you will never be as good as superstar ABC (as a guitar player myself, there are always musicians that are way way better - I guess the same applies for magicians)
- as an addendum to above: You are unique. Your style, your presentation, your personality are like no one else’s. That is why people enjoy what YOU are doing. It doesn’t matter that there are those that are better. They aren’t there at the moment, and the spectators came to see you.
- the spectators actually are glad for that you are up there, and not them performing. As someone said: 80% of success is showing up
- they also tend to be very forgiving - they don’t expect perfection (and in music, most won’t realize that you messed up something - they don’t know what you were expecting to play. I’m not sure how that translates to magic, but I assume that it is similar)
- perform in difficult or scary environments: I played Open Mic in a pub one or two times. It was horrible. I was horrible. I was scarred like hell before doing my set. Every performance after that was a lot easier. And the experience was invaluable - drunk people yelling at you while you’re performing? Check, did that.
- my first magic performance was, when I was a boy, 8-9 years old (got a magic set), at a party that my parents held. The trick went wrong, I cried, and felt like a complete failure. It took me decades to get over this and to get up in front of people and talk, give a presentation or play music. I realized that I enjoy it a lot (adrenaline and endorphins also make for a nice chemical cocktail to enjoy afterwards)

Maybe something resonates with you from my ramblings.

Jens-Christian
jcfischer
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I just read the three posts on the Jerx - excellent advise (especially the assignment about failing...). That resonates very well
Gerald
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Remythologizing,
The advice you have gotten here from these folks is worth its weight in gold. Study, practice and rehearse and take it seriously, but at the same time have fun with it. Have fun with your spectators when you perform. Don't be too tough on yourself at first. You are just beginning a terrific journey in the craft. There is so much to learn, you'll never feel that you have "arrived." But keep your eyes, ears and most importantly, your mind open. See how the spectators react to your personally and your magic. Adjust and improve.

An experienced, skillful performer mentor is a valuable asset. Folks who have done a couple of birthday parties and fashion themselves as "experts" are not your best bet. A qualified mentor is not easy to come by, but your effort will be well repaid.

Best wishes!

Gerald
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When I was young (many moons ago) I would get nervous WHENEVER I didn't know how to do something. ESPECIALLY if other people were involved but even things like tests in school. With time and lots of it, I have realized that the enemy of fear, is a confidence in what I know. So for a test in school, I will have studied long and hard. To talk to girls, I first learned to listen. And for performing magic I practice till I didn't even have to think about it.

With age has come wisdom but there is so much more I need to learn. Be that as it may, I don't fear things anymore and trust, that it will all work out in the end Smile
To hate those who hate is righteous.
davidpaul$
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Nice post Senor. Like the OP, as well as most of us, have and do experience this.
I no longer get nervous. Why? Because I perform allot and have encountered many flub-ups,
different personalities, from friendly and engaging to down right rude. I've performed for all
ages, infant to 100+ years.

You just have to get out there and perform. Yes practice your sleights and routines adnausium.
But there are no short cuts. You HAVE to get out there and perform at the risk of messing up.
Don't worry, your spectators won't hesitate to call you out if they notice something, but that
is how, if you learn from your mistakes and successes, to gain the proper confidence. Over time,
with honest evaluation of yourself and the reactions of your spectators you will be on your way
to stress free performances.

But....but...all this will mean nothing without a friendly and engaging personality.
Be likeable. Care about people beyond your magic. Converse don't talk at your audience.
I could go on and tell some stories over my career. Believe me when I tell you that everyone has
a story behind their exterior. Just last week the manager at one of my restaurants pulled me aside
and told me the people I just performed for had recently made a difficult decision to take a loved
one off of life support. They told the mgr. I was a bright spot in their day. There minds were
taken off the sad decision if only for a few minutes.

In summary, love what you do, practice to be your best, get out there and perform ALLOT and genuinely care about people. The end.
If you can't help worrying, remember worrying can't help you!
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