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Topic: A Perspective On Practice
Message: Posted by: Rocky (May 25, 2003 06:59PM)
I knew my last post, stop...stop...stop,would hit some nerves. I was actually surprised to see how many agreed with my perspective. It appears that those who agreed are magicians who entertain in real world venues as opposed to magic club meetings or conventions. I apologize to those who took offense to it. I don't want to imply that those who disagreed with me are not performing for layaudiences. I'm sure that you do. They may just not be the same type of audience that would patronize my restaurant.

When I witnesed the magicians I spoke of in the STOP topic,there was no doubt in my mind that they were talented. Perhaps talented to the point where thay thought that they could master new effects in shorter time than most. I've done the same thing and, to some extent, have been successful. To those who blamed these magicians for "practicing" in front of an audience,you are somewhat correct. However, I think that practice is a continuum which starts out in privacy and evolves to audience involvement. I define practice as the process of doing something repeatedly after we have learned how to do it. A person in medical school learns how to be a physician, and then sets up his or her "practice."

We should look at all of our performances as practice sessions. If you really think about it , the gig we do tonight is practice for the one we will be doing next Friday. You can practice your 3-fly routine in front of a mirror, the dog, your grandmother, or an audience of people waiting to be seated at a busy restaurant. It all comes down to doing something THAT YOU HAVE LEARNED over and over again so you that you can improve the next time you do it. The guy who dropped the Silver Shifter in my restaurant had learned how to use it, practiced it for the boys at the Ring ,and then brought it to my place to practice on real people. Murphy's Law can happen during any of our practice sessions, we just wish that they would only be the ones we do for the dog. I believe that even the most inept magician realizes when he hasn't LEARNED a trick as each practice session ends in catastrophe. They eventually give up on the effect and label it a waste of time. Unfortunately, most of these magicians just go on to another effect to practice before they learn it.

The point I tried to make in my STOP topic was that the overload of material available is increasing the odds of magicians ruining a performance. Some who disagreed with me stated that the more props and effects, the better. Yeah, I used to load down my pockets every night before Ild head into the lounge, and you know what( I know the guys who perform for laypeople are ahead of me on this)? I'll tell you what! Some nights all I did was the color changing knives and card to ceiling.All the time you put into expanding your repitoire while trying to impress the snobs who huddle in their hotel room at conventions with a deck of cards instead of a woman IMHO, is a waste of time.Unless of course,thats what your goal in magic is,but you should really try to see what its like to have a woman in your hotel room. Its a heck of alot more fun than learning another version of Travelers.
Message: Posted by: Chris Berry (May 25, 2003 07:58PM)

Good post!

Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (May 25, 2003 08:58PM)
Rocky, the argument made about 'stopping' progress is counterproductive. If our general readership were familiar with the ancient classics, I might present an argument in the form of a dialog with 'fictional' characters, and have one suggest to the other that they restrict their material to what can readily be found in 'Discoverie of Witchcraft', and not a bit from after 1540. Then the character taken to their principles would have protested. And then there would need to be a shift in either the date of the cut-off or not cut-off at all. Once the cut-off has moved once, simple induction makes the notion of a cut-off date arbitrary. The arbitrariness of the cut-off date begs the question of who should set the date. I personally hold that each is responsible for setting their own goals to reach.

The battle of the books was won by TVGuide, and most of our readership would not sit for a classical dialog.
Message: Posted by: johnathanblades (May 26, 2003 02:46AM)

I agree and disagree, I could talk about this topic for days. Let me try to hit on some of these points.

First, let me tell you that I am a working professional that has a seven year run at two restaurants in my area and have performed at many other establishments as well. I also perform about 100 shows outside of my regular 'gigs' each year.

I must agree that there are a lot of self proclaimed magicians and material out there. I also feel there are many restaurants not suited for magic or a magician.

I must disagree to the extent of value and the relationship a performer can have with a restaurant.

First, there are very few GOOD performers in each town, city, etc., and even less that know how to work a restaurant or bar. So, finding a good match is hard to do ,and just like any relationship it needs to be worked on to grow.

You were talking about your 'regulars' eating some of these magicians alive. I would hate to be the one getting the job if you ever decided to hire a house magician again. Your "regulars" have already been conditioned by other so-called magicians that have tried to work your establishment. They probably cross many boundries such as a friend or a relative would,b by grabing and making outlandish requests. If it were me, I would have commanded a certain amount of respect. I think my relationship with your patrons would have been much different, since I have great audience control and immaculate people skills (which all true magicians should posess).

I think magic (especially close-up) can be a more passive form of entertainment, as it is not as intrusive as musicians, bands, etc. It can be focused on those who enjoy it. If someone doesn't like it, fine. But for those who complain and make a big stink about it, why do you want their business again? They are the type of people that will find something else to complain about eventually.

I don't think that people that "can't stand magic" will give you the best atmosphere for your restaurant. I see people that are just "in a bad mood" and still insist on going out to eat and spread misery on everyone they can. One of these stiffs actually once told me that it makes him feel better when he can go somewhere on a bad day and just tell people what to do, and having people slave over him. What a great guy! I'm sure he is the kind of person that you want frequenting your restarant. I think a magician can be great for weeding these kind of people out.

As far as value, name recognition is one of the best things a magician can give you. I can't go anywhere my area, a population of over 1,000,000, without someone saying, "I saw you at.....". People will just say to other people, "I saw this magician do these incredible things at....." , and that's some of the best advertising you can get for your money.

Trust me, every one has food, drinks, and an atmosphere, but what makes your place different? Whats your hook? Sometimes the magician is that hook.

Message: Posted by: MisterE21 (May 29, 2003 02:43AM)
These sorts of discussions are one of the main reasons I love coming to the Café. I'll try to stay on the topic of practice here, and then go and post some other thoughts on the "Stop..Stop...Stop..." thread.

Becoming nearly incessent in my searching for magically themed things that aren't magic, I recently read The Vanishing Man by Jeffrey Deaver, in which the antagonist is a high-skilled, multi-disciplined magician. In the book, written by a layman, with it appears, from the acknowledgements and afterward, only information from books, an interesting practice equation emerged: 1 minute of performance should be backed up by 100 minutes of practice (paraphrasing here).

Consequently, per that equation, a 15 minute routine should have been practiced for 1500 minutes (or, roughly, 25 hours). I, personally, think this is not the most outlandish equation; not for those who are SERIOUS about becoming working performers.

However, that being said, I will not even PRETEND I'm near that, but, I know I should be. I also know I should stop smoking, drink less soda, excercise more frequently, etc. I think that practice is one of those things we all know we should do more of, but most of us don't.

(Note: The following is all guesstimation and approximation on my part, based on my experience and opinons; you are welcome to quibble with my percentages, although I think your energy will be better directed elsewhere...)

There are varying degrees of practice, in my opinion. I think 50% of magicians stop after the first degree: Practicing the sleights. "Oh, so my Ambitious Card routine is comprised of this palm, this change, these two DL's, this false shuffle, etc." Sit down, run through those moves 20 - 50 - 100 times...whatever...and then decide if you're ready to perform it.

Of the remaining 50%, I would guess that a further 50% may actually write out some patter to rehearse a few times. However, deciding it's dang hard to memorize patter, they only get a "feel" for it and they're good to go. (I've been guilty of stopping here.)

So, we're down to, say, one quarter of all magicians that make it past the first two degrees. Of that quarter, I'd bet 75% actually fully rehearse their patter and moves, thereby remembering such things while performing. In my opinion, this is the absolute minimal level to be achieved before even THINKING of seeking professional work. Sadly, I'll bet I'm in the minority with that thinking. Not necessarily the minority on here, and most certainly not the minority of those actually reading this, but probably the minority of all actual magicians.

I'll stop with the percentages now, because math isn't my strong suit, and my head hurts. :rotf: However, I would say there are two more levels. The next level is constantly re-evaluating your routines to see if, they truly flow together, the effects logically follow one another, and if there are any possible changes that may be be beneficial.

Finally, the last level of practice is, as mentioned, reviewing every move while practicing for motivation, naturalness, fairness, etc., reworking each EFFECT and THEN, the entire routine on a fairly continual basis.

The biggest hurdle to actual practice is, I think, what I personally have encountered: the ability to stop at level 1 or 2 and still entertain family and friends. When an amount of work begats a good response, why bother applying Ax2 work or Ax4 work? The obvious answer, logically to me, is that A achieves B, then Ax2 will achieve Bx2 (or, actually, my brain tells me there is probably an exponential reaction here: Ax2 = Bx6, etc. Good Lord, how did we end up back at MATH?!?!) :goof:

Practice is important and well-thought out, planned, and structured practice is move important. However, I think far too many feel it just isn't necessary "for them."