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Topic: Shaky hands...what the?!?!?!
Message: Posted by: BIlly James (Jun 20, 2005 03:29AM)
Hi folks,

I started performing magic seriously when I was 25, I'm 41 now, and I started performing full time when I was in my late 20's. Over the years I've performed in all sorts of situations, large and small (I even had the privilege of performing for Chelsea Clinton and some of the American athletes during the Sydney Olympics)so performing is really second nature to me.

However, the other day my sister (who I hardly ever see) was in town and so over lunch I decided to do a couple of tricks for her...but here's the thing, my hands were shaking like I was a nervous cat!!!
Was I nervous...no! So why the heck were my hands shaking all of a sudden??

Have any of you guys experienced anything like this, or should I just go ahead and book myself into a sanitarium.
Message: Posted by: Paul Sherman (Jun 20, 2005 03:38AM)
You're not crazy. I think it's because you have a different emotional investment in what your sister thinks of your magic than what a stranger thinks (even if that stranger is the President's daughter).

Looking foolish (by messing up a trick) in front of a stranger is different than looking foolish in front of a family member or someone else you respect. I had this happen recently when I had a lesson with a prominent magician. He had me do a few effects for him and on one of them my hands were shaking so badly that I had to stop several times throughout.

My best advice is to relax (because looking messing up a trick isn't such a big deal) and to start out with effects that are either self-working or that you feel so confident with that you know you can't mess them up. Beyond that, just have faith in your skills and the strength of the effect.
Message: Posted by: Samuel (Jun 20, 2005 06:02AM)
Paul is right... I too can perform for strangers with no problem, but when I perform for people I respect (especially other, more proficient magicians), my hands starts to shake and they become moist.

I just have to "shake" it away, and perform some easy starters. Then it goes away, at least usually ;)
Message: Posted by: KidMagic87 (Jun 20, 2005 07:42AM)
My problem is the other way around...For strangers, I don't want to make a bad first impression. So this anxiety causes my hands to shake. I'm perfectly fine around those I know, because they'll think of me the same no matter what.
Message: Posted by: KidCrenshaw (Jun 20, 2005 07:47AM)
[quote]
On 2005-06-20 04:38, Paul Sherman wrote:
and to start out with effects that are self-working... so you build confidence[/quote]

That's the money line there. Great advice, I'm not sure that I've heard that before, and I like it.

Sure, I edited it a bit, but it's still the same thing.
Message: Posted by: bishthemagish (Jun 20, 2005 10:26AM)
Here is another thread talking about the same thing.

http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?topic=121124&forum=27&4
Message: Posted by: Stanyon (Jun 20, 2005 10:29AM)
Kinda' like "Flop sweat"! I always ask myself, "What am I sweating for? I already have the job!"

FWIW

Cheers! ;)
Message: Posted by: eryanic (Jun 20, 2005 02:07PM)
Don't mean to freak you out, but since you're 41, it COULD be a nerve problem...
just an opinion...no scientific evidence or anything
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Jun 20, 2005 02:20PM)
Agreed about performing when you have emotional issues at the time.

When you are not one hundred percent there to DO MAGIC, watch out. Especially if you want to communicate feelings at the time.

The word "congruence" comes to mind here, and since it's a goal, I won't discuss how to get around the issue.

If you want to focus on the magic... try imagining that every time you miss a beat or mess up a move, somewhere a fairy dies screaming your name as its last words. You don't want to kill all the fairies do you? Quit clapping your hands, that only works for muggles. You gotta do the magic for them.
Message: Posted by: tommy (Jun 20, 2005 02:44PM)
At the card table a Shaking Hand is a tell of a powerful poker hand. The guy is not nervous but excited at the prospect of winning. The more they try to hide the fact that they are holding a strong hand the worse it gets. It is very hard to control. I do not know how that relates to magic but it is not being fearful that is always the foundation of shaking.
Message: Posted by: weapon (Jun 20, 2005 03:33PM)
[quote]
On 2005-06-20 04:38, Paul Sherman wrote:
You're not crazy. I think it's because you have a different emotional investment in what your sister thinks of your magic than what a stranger thinks (even if that stranger is the President's daughter).

Looking foolish (by messing up a trick) in front of a stranger is different than looking foolish in front of a family member or someone else you respect. I had this happen recently when I had a lesson with a prominent magician. He had me do a few effects for him and on one of them my hands were shaking so badly that I had to stop several times throughout.

My best advice is to relax (because looking messing up a trick isn't such a big deal) and to start out with effects that are either self-working or that you feel so confident with that you know you can't mess them up. Beyond that, just have faith in your skills and the strength of the effect.
[/quote]

I agree with paul, I do tricks for my fiance, and she knows all my slieghts..so it makes me nervous and makes me feel like she is gonna see my dirty work..so it kinda messes with my head a little bit and I tend to fumble or shake..lol
Message: Posted by: Amir (Jun 20, 2005 03:40PM)
[quote]
On 2005-06-20 15:44, tommy wrote:
At the card table a Shaking Hand is a tell of a powerful poker hand. The guy is not nervous but excited at the prospect of winning. The more they try to hide the fact that they are holding a strong hand the worse it gets. It is very hard to control. I do not know how that relates to magic but it is not being fearful that is always the foundation of shaking.
[/quote]
Thanks for the tip. That ought to come in handy this friday night.
Message: Posted by: Paul Sherman (Jun 20, 2005 03:44PM)
That's straight out of Caro's Book of Poker Tells...which includes dozens of other tips you might find helpful.
Message: Posted by: HusssKarson (Jan 8, 2009 12:14AM)
Well.. I had that before.. To my wife only. Maybe I got scared of her. LOL
Message: Posted by: yutszfung (Jan 12, 2009 12:32AM)
If I havent performed for a period of time, I have done same problem too, it's ok, you are not the only one.
Message: Posted by: invisible (Mar 6, 2009 05:18PM)
I have always had shaky hands when I am holding something
Message: Posted by: JRob (Mar 23, 2009 05:16PM)
[quote]
On 2005-06-20 15:07, eryanic wrote:
Don't mean to freak you out, but since you're 41, it COULD be a nerve problem...
just an opinion...no scientific evidence or anything
[/quote]
I would wait and see if it happens again under dissimilar circumstances (like rehearsal) before seeking referrals.
Message: Posted by: Benjamin Dove (Apr 1, 2009 11:30PM)
When I get nervous I tend to shake too. It's nothing out of the ordinary.
Message: Posted by: Lawrence O (Oct 25, 2009 06:36AM)
It only happens to me when I do tricks for magicians, not for lay people. Fear? Excitement? I don't know but it bothers me. Fortunately it doesn't last more than 30 seconds to a minute. So I start with a script that talks about a magician who had a Parkinson and would fool the heck out me, with his gesture becoming stable exactly at the right moments...
Message: Posted by: Mary Mowder (Nov 3, 2009 01:29PM)
When I started I was very shaky and while it has gotten better I still shake at times (in front of Magicians, close friends and in contests) I have dumped knacky flourishes last moment if I was too nervous at the time.

It really helps to break the ice with easy and fun material. A good laugh can really help. I think it's about the diaphragm.

If it comes on unexpectedly, touching something, like resting your hand or the cards on the table top can steady the shake. Also larger movements can mask a little ("big movement small movement").

It may help to know that sometimes the shake is much more noticeable to you.

- Mary Mowder
Message: Posted by: jgazmen (Aug 23, 2010 06:26AM)
Many years ago I brought up that problem with the great Al Cohen of Al's Magic in Washington, DC. He told me to just tell them a story about the fact that you just got off the plane from Alaska, and that you are still recovering..........

Enjoy
Message: Posted by: Mr. Mystoffelees (Aug 28, 2010 01:02PM)
If it fits, maybe a "Don Knotts" routine could work...
Message: Posted by: guitarmagic (Oct 19, 2010 12:55PM)
Lawrence O . . . thanks for the useful and great ideas of interjecting the Parkinson scenario for those moments of involuntary shakes secondary to passing nervousness.
Message: Posted by: crochow (Nov 18, 2010 11:31PM)
I agree that it was just a tense/emotional moment with your sister. Relax...you'll be fine! Actually, a little nervousness is good as it will give you an 'edge' to perform better. Little is the key word there.
Message: Posted by: aaronharp88 (Nov 28, 2010 12:31AM)
Being nervous is always best.... If your real calm on stage and comfortable that's when your known to mess up..... I hate performing in front of my uncle because he was my mentor. so when I perform infront of him I feel that I have to be amazing and blow him away and the entire show I'm worried about what he thinks when I should be worrying about the audiences views
Message: Posted by: Stonewick (Dec 3, 2010 01:26PM)
Strangers only know us through the characters we present.
It's almost like a mask.
With friends and family the mask is off.
They know who the man (or woman) behind the curtain is.
Message: Posted by: daffydoug (Jul 16, 2011 09:40PM)
Oh what memories! I remember very vividly the first payed show I did. My hands were shaking like a proverbial leaf! I made Don Knots look calm and cool.
But it went away. Shaking is a thing of the past, now.
Message: Posted by: wizardpa (Nov 16, 2011 05:55AM)
Golly, I'm glad you posted this. I have done hundreds of shows and I swear, I'm not nervous especially the several tricks that make it look like I am. I do a diminishing card trick that's super easy to do. It's mostly a funny trick as opposed to being; "How does he do that?" When I get to the last couple of small card packets my hand is slightly shaking, and a few times I have trouble holding the smallest packet because of this.
Other tricks I notice my shaking are 2 of the easiest tricks in the world to do, In the News, and The Water Suspension Trick, as I'm pouring the liquid, I notice my hand shaking. What the heck, is this, I wonder to myself.
Message: Posted by: MaxfieldsMagic (Feb 2, 2012 10:24PM)
Try drinking a few shots before you perform. No shakes, and you won't care or even realize that you're probably messing up every trick.
Message: Posted by: Jim Sparx (Feb 29, 2012 06:50PM)
Wives are the easiest to fool. I know, I've had a bunch of them.
Instead of putting a negative spin on shaking (ie it's bad) think of it as excitement (therefore positive). Trying to think yourself to relax just makes you more nervous because it does not always work.
Message: Posted by: startingout (Jul 9, 2016 06:22PM)
Like to put my experience forward, for what its worth, sorry I know its long winded but .... Performing in front of friends family no issues, strangers. felt that never picked up a pack of cards or coins etc. But I love magic, wife convinced me try join a local Magicians group. Reluctantly I did, had a visit from a member see what my handling is like, honestly was a nervous wreck, but he seen I had the techniques. Taken me on to the magicians academy mind I am (47). I was in my element totally buzzing. Had to perform in front of 2 magicians 3 month now passed since joined 2.5 hr each session, With a fortnightly visit from one of my mentors. Rely on as a real friend now. Within this short time only one issue still could not get over the nerves when performing in front of the other magician. As I taken it they seen it all done it all. Which brought on more nerves. Also trying to research in to different effects as friends already seen what I can do. What my mentors turned round and said was, we may seen and done it all, but you are learning to perform in front of people, laymen who never have. Don't find new material, find new audience. This is where these magic shops make a fortune. Taken this in account. Said to wife if can get passed this 1 magician with my nerves then I have cracked it. effects I went in with, rehearsed, for weks till could do blind fold. Went in hot the nail on the head. The fact is that not only did I nail it as love the art taken chop cup and 2 others 2 other a different angle, the mentor I was petrified off, at end of my session said, how simple yet totally original, brilliant 15 yrs never seen the load done that way, I may pinch it. what a confidence boost. it is a total different story doing in front of friends and colleagues, as found you get in a comfort zone. No matter where I go always take cards or coins, have one or 2 impromptu effects, mc donalds, local pub etc., If can find an opportunity to do an effect raises 1`s confidence. As my mentors said new audience, never been wrong, only after 3 months now don't get the shakes but strangely after, possibly that's the adrenalin kicking in. Yes messed up once or twice who hasn't? then that's the next step. You will notice it but as the audience, Drop a coin " gravity check in place, yup all working" pretend to pick up coin but place under the foot, do a simple vanish, show appeared under foot, carry on. Select a force card miss pick use ur force card as the key card to locate theirs. We thought this was all fun lol...
Message: Posted by: JasperLee (Oct 18, 2016 09:21PM)
I use to think that practice makes perfect, and the shaking would probably stop in time when you've enough flight time.

That said, I when was watching "The Illusionist" on stage one, world class close up magician had his hands shaking infront of a live audience.

He still pulled off the effect wonderfully.

I've no doubt that they spent thousand of hours on their effects, yet it still happens.

At the end of the day, nerves are there to keep us in check. Which isn't entirely a bad thing.
Message: Posted by: AndreOng1 (Nov 9, 2016 10:42PM)
I use to have shaky hands when performing but I keep going and eventually it went away.

tip is..practice doesn't make perfect... just try to get comfortable doing magic in front of strangers
Message: Posted by: malaki (May 12, 2017 04:31PM)
Pre-show jitters are a part of performing.
One thing that no one has mentioned, though, is the possibility of low blood sugar. Symptoms are shaking hands, light headedness and spots before your eyes.

Seeing your sister and showing her a trick, if it was before you ate, could have been the problem. Never shop for groceries or perform magic when hungry. It will not be your best show.

I have suffered from hypoglycemia for years. Pay attention to what your body may be telling you, and take care of yourself. You aren't going to be very entertaining if you have passed out onto the floor. After all, the goal is to continue to entertain for as many decades as you can. ; )
Message: Posted by: paulalpha (Apr 10, 2018 09:16PM)
I find that I get the shakes after I have performed a trick well for a group. It must be adrenaline kicking in. And in the case of performing for your sister, it no doubt was the emotional aspect of it. Just practice well so its muscle memory and you will do fine.
Message: Posted by: deanr201 (May 23, 2018 06:01AM)
[quote]On Apr 10, 2018, paulalpha wrote:
I find that I get the shakes after I have performed a trick well for a group. It must be adrenaline kicking in. And in the case of performing for your sister, it no doubt was the emotional aspect of it. Just practice well so its muscle memory and you will do fine. [/quote]

*edit* Sorry for the bit of a ramble, had a indecent just like this so thought it was best to get it off my chest! *end edit*


I find the same, quite often I find I'm worse after I have nailed the first effect or two and the spectators are invested and impressed suddenly a wave of nervous and shakeyness and doubt seems to fill me. Generally I push on and this does go away.

But I am inclined to agree with previous comments family and friends know the real you, strangers know the character your present which you can always use to your advantage.

I'm just a hobbyist and never performed professionally, but have often shown been asked at family events to show certain members of family a few things and then suddenly you have nearly every one at the event. First time this happened I went to pieces, stumbled through possible the worst ambitions card routine ever and honestly was disappointment with my self! But then the reactions were all positive and way better than they should have been for what I just performed. But then the nerves we gone, the doubt was gone. I proceeded to do possibly the best magic I have ever done (all simple things but) It as many have said before its as much the tricks/effects as it is the performance.

But what happens when I meet these people again...the nerves come back now matter how hard I tell my self its ok. and what happens, first trick/effect feels rocky and sloppy, but I always find I get feedback which suggests its even better than the lats time they saw me. I often find once I alter my perception things don't seem so bad and the shaky hands are gone too.