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Topic: Nerves
Message: Posted by: xtreme_mixers (Mar 17, 2004 03:26PM)
Does anybody have a suggestion for calming nerves and focusing while doing magic? It's getting easier but I was wondering if anyone has tips?
Message: Posted by: KingStardog (Mar 17, 2004 04:22PM)
The general rule is time and experience.

There are actualy two types of 'nervs' One is the actual fear of being the center of attention, and fear of failure combined, pretty rare.

The other is pent up excitement and energy that is not focused. This is common as you most likely have a deep desire to share something that you hold very dear, and get great satisfaction from.

Stay calm. 99.9% of your specs want to see you perform your effects and illusions. Have all of your routines and patter scripted and practiced in full.
Carry a cheat sheet of your effect order, in your wallet and learn 1 simple bill effect. If you end up lost you can look in your wallet to get a cue and then act like you need a bill, and go into your bill effect. This will keep things going, while you are getting cued and started again.

Dont do these to calm nerves:
Have a shot/drink before performing
Withhold sleep from your self
Overly tire your self the day before
Don't talk too fast this gives an impression you are nervous.

Do these:
Have fun. If you do, they will too.
Get plenty of rest.
Drink plenty of water before/during.
Keep caffeine to a bare minumum, or not at all.
Avoid lots of chocolate/candy/sugar.
Take the last 15-20 minutes before performing getting focused and 'in the zone' in a quiet place by yourself.

Good luck.
Message: Posted by: twistedace (Mar 17, 2004 06:10PM)
Man that was dead on. The best way to get rid of the shakes is to perform for as many people as you can as often as you can in venues where it doesn't matter. I was fortunate enough to have a 4 hour break in the middle of each day over my 4 year college period where I hung out at a building that was like the center of campus. I honed my performing style and audience management there. I honed the tricks in my room alone though if you know what I mean. After a while of performing the shakes definately go.
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (Mar 17, 2004 06:32PM)
Take a breath.
drop your shoulders.
relax your hands.
Eye contact.

... oh, and then keep on breathing after that.

A few of those work wonders.
Message: Posted by: Daniel Faith (Mar 17, 2004 06:53PM)
The best way to defeat nerves is to rehearse!!
Not practice...rehearse.
Over and over. Just exactly like you are planning on performing.
You MUST know your material so well you don't have to think about it.
There is really no room for short cuts here.
Not knowing your material that well will cause a lack of self confidense or the fear of what might happen.

A couple of things that will help:
Make a script and continually refine it. That's is write out each and every routine and what you plan to say.
Tape your rehearsals and review them many times.

If you have rehearsed well you will have all the confidense you need.
The preshow jitters are no big deal and go away once you begin. They are quite normal.
Message: Posted by: KingStardog (Mar 17, 2004 06:57PM)
I fogot that one Frank, breathe. Very important.

I never had to use the cheat sheet in my wallet but it was comforting to know it was there, in case a tube top rolled down or something and I was off guard for a minute. I do pull the wallet look to get someone to offer a bil though. As soon as you get it in your hand say: oh good the magicians union told me never use my own money for this next one. This gets a laugh from the folks you didn't borrow it from 40-50% of the time. Ok I know,its a groaner, and very old too.
Message: Posted by: Larry Davidson (Mar 17, 2004 08:02PM)
On 2004-03-17 19:53, Guardian wrote:
The best way to defeat nerves is to rehearse!!
Not practice...rehearse.

Message: Posted by: GaMBiT_101 (Mar 17, 2004 08:18PM)
Definetly, breathing is good, slow down you may not notice it but when your nervous you tend to speak faster, and as kingstardog said, remember the audience wants you to perform, they want the magician to do well, regardless.
Message: Posted by: illuzns (Mar 19, 2004 02:23AM)
Everyone gets or has gotten the shakes at some point in their performing career. I have to agree that rehearsal is key and repetition of the material you are going to perform will help. Get your lines down and always prepare for "Outs" (little Gags and one liners). Just incase something does happen at a given point in your routines, you will be prepared for it.

The only other thing I can tell you that helped me out in this area is: Get to know your spectators first. Sometimes it helps to know you have a common ground with some of these people and it can help calm your nerves a little. I think someone else mentioned that most of these people are very willing to enjoy what you have to offer them. They are expecting you to show them something that very few other people can do(relatively speaking) and most of them want to be fooled even if they don't necessarily act like it at first.

If you start to get nervous, then briefly pause,take a breath,and regain your composure and slow down a little. Don't rush what you say or it will be harder for them to understand what you are trying to accomplish. Just relax and have confidence in what you know you can do. The rest will come in time.
Your friend in magic,
Message: Posted by: Liam Jones (Mar 28, 2004 06:58AM)
Take calms (you can get them at chemists) but always read the label.

For those who do not know calms are not drugs.
Message: Posted by: Mediocre the Great (Mar 28, 2004 07:25PM)
Yea, Calms are herbal. Good suggestion, althought they never worked for me (I'm a very hyper person).

All suggestions above are excellent... rehearse, know your material cold, don't do new stuff, just stuff that's dead solid. BUT... until you start performing regularly, in my experence the nervousness doesn't go away. For me it took about 25 gigs, under fire before I started to gain confidence. Just keep doing it for audiences... as often as you can. Sooner or later the nerves will fade away and your confidence enhance the power of your magic...

Ross Burtrum said it best:
"There is no substitute for performing for REGULAR PEOPLE on a REGULAR BASIS". In other words, peforming for family, friends or other magicians doesn't count. You need to get out there and do it with real audiences.

After a hundred shows for laymen, you'll know exactly what I mean...
Message: Posted by: xtreme_mixers (Mar 29, 2004 12:42AM)
Thanks guys this info has helped a lot and still is :lol: cheers

Message: Posted by: Paddy (Mar 29, 2004 07:32AM)
Everyone has given suggestions and they are all excellent. I only have a comment. I have been performing for going on 5 years now full time and I STILL get a little jittery every time.

The old thoughts, just like the very first show, of forgetting my lines, really screwing up and exposing a trick while performing it all run thru my mind. I just go out and start my routines and suddenly the fear is gone and I am fine. But for 5 minutes before the gig I am, inside,just a total wreck.

Message: Posted by: twistedace (Mar 29, 2004 09:46AM)
It happens to me too sometimes Peter. I just think before the show how the audience will respond if I do VERY well. I always take a few minutes to calm myself before walkaround and make sure that I have everything in perfect place and stuff like that. It's all in the mind but hard to ignore.
Message: Posted by: Alan Gold (Apr 1, 2004 05:28AM)
I still get nervous at times, and I have been a DJ and a magician, so I am used to having the limelight on me. Just the other day, while performing at my friend's magic bar, I was doing tricks for five gorgeous (not goodlooking, GORGEOUS) girls. And I was nervous. Which is odd, since women generally don't make me nervous. Well, not that much. Go figger. Of course, in that instance, I was able to have some beer to calm me down. Not generally an acceptable or recommended practice while working at a restaurant.

Actually, whenever I do something for the very first time, I am a basketcase (though I hide it well). The first time I ever did magic professionally in a restaurant, I was a wreck (though the people working that night swore they had no clue). Also, the first time I worked at other venues, did a private party, etc. Now I am faced with starting a street act, and I am just a total wreck. Once I get that first day out of the way, I will be fine....but until then, I am scared [bleep]less.

I know, I know...more beer.

In truth, I do have some practical recommendations. If you find yourself getting tense, force your shoulders down. When we tense up, our shoulders rise, and we don't realize it. Forcing them down helps us relax. Also, many people, myself included, often get a dry mouth when nervous. If your restaurant doesn't have mints handy (mine does), bring in some Tic Tacs. Not only will this keep you from getting to dry, but it will also keep you from offending the guests with all that garlic you had for lunch! Finally, and this last one is only recommended if you know the person well, at the start of the night, have one of the staff give you a quick neck/shoulder rub/massage. Not a good idea if you don't know the folks, but I can get away with it because I have worked at my restaurant longer than everyone on the waitstaff.


Message: Posted by: prospero (Apr 2, 2004 08:18PM)
Tell jokes. if you get the audience laughing, you get WAY more confident.
Message: Posted by: The great Gumbini (Aug 18, 2009 12:42AM)
I have to agree with the "rehearse" comments. Here is proof of that. We can stand and say the alphabet with little to no "nerves" involved---even to those "beauties" that show up. But if we had to say the Constitution (here in US) it would be a different story. Why? Simple we know our alphabet better. We rehearsed it more in school and even had to write it down (over and over again). Same with magic and mentalism. Know it like you know your name and you will find yourself actually looking forward to your next performance.

But I want to add something as well. Make your performance just that---YOURS. We each have our own personality that people want to see. Our own unique touch. Plus I learned that when we try to duplicate another performer we make extra work for ourselves. We have to learn the effect, then we have to remember how "so and so" did it. Now there are times when an effect calls for this duplication. But we all know there are times when we can add ourselves into the effect. Look for every chance to do this. You will present your performance in only a way that YOU can.

These ideas have helped me and I hope they help you as well.

Good magic to all,

Message: Posted by: S2000magician (Aug 18, 2009 01:21AM)
I'm always nervous before a performance, even after doing hundreds (thousands?). However, once I've begun all of the nervousness disappears. How? As mentioned above: rehearsal.

I always begin the same way. By this I don't mean that I always begin with the same effect; my opening effect will depend on myriad influences (type of show, venue, type of audience, mood of the audience, and so on). What I mean is that I always begin simply by talking to the audience: introducing myself, asking how everyone is doing, asking their names, and so on. By doing this all the time it is necessarily the best-rehearsed bit. And once I'm in the groove, so to speak, the nerves are gone.

So pick an opening and rehearse it. A million times. When you can deliver your opening whilst tying your shoes, or shuffling a deck of cards, or playing the piano, or rollerblading backwards, or double-clutching, or diving for a line drive, or separating an egg, or doing anything else that demands at least a modicum of concentration - and do it the same way every time - you'll find that you needn't worry about being nervous.
Message: Posted by: Hansel (Aug 18, 2009 04:20PM)
On 2004-03-17 21:02, Larry Davidson wrote:
On 2004-03-17 19:53, Guardian wrote:
The best way to defeat nerves is to rehearse!!
Not practice...rehearse.


Nothing better than know what are you going to do!
I agree!
Message: Posted by: Bryanpier (Aug 18, 2009 04:27PM)
I always get that little pump of adrenaline before I perform. That's what makes it exciting for me.
Message: Posted by: puggo (Aug 18, 2009 04:33PM)
Some great advice here, it's good to know that I am not alone! As a part timer, I normally get 'first trick nerves' at a gig, and start with an easy to perform, strong opener, that I know inside out to get me going.
Larry Davidson is being modest by not plugging his (excellent)'Scripted Insanity' DVDs. He really goes into detail regarding rehearsal and scripting. By far the most detail I have seen on the subject on a DVD.
Message: Posted by: Adam1975 (Aug 18, 2009 04:35PM)
The best way to get rid of the shakes is to perform for as many people as you can as often as you can in venues where it doesn't matter.

That was said earlier on and I 2nd it a 100%.Shaking only comes from putting yourself in an unusual situation,(ie,when you first start showing magic to people)hence nerves.Once performing for anyone,anytime,becomes 2nd nature, like breathing,the shakes will fade away.You can have all the theory in the world,but getting rid of the shakes,well,the above advice works a treat,believe me (an ex-shaker!) :yippee:

You cannot buy,nor put a price on experience.Its only gained "in the trenches"
Message: Posted by: Barry Donovan (Aug 29, 2009 02:53PM)
My personal preference when arriving at a gig, is to find an easy looking table/group, you can normally tell after a while whos readily acceptable, then as puggo mentioned I perform a self worker that kills, impossible to mess up but gets such a good reaction it gives you the confidence to go on to other material.
Message: Posted by: montymagi (Aug 29, 2009 06:30PM)
Chit Chat with the table a little before preforming. It lets you see them as nice people and will make it a better when you start.
Message: Posted by: phineasbg (Sep 4, 2009 07:00AM)
On 2009-08-29 19:30, montymagi wrote:
Chit Chat with the table a little before preforming. It lets you see them as nice people and will make it a better when you start.

FANTASTIC advice. That can really calm the nerves.

Along those same lines, if you are early and have a conversation with some good people and find they enthusiastically want to see you once they're settled in, that's gold. You can start with them. After that, your nerves will be settled down considerably.
Message: Posted by: ilmungo (Sep 4, 2009 01:23PM)
Also consider an alternative or additional approach, which has worked for me: [i]embrace[/i] the nerves. Don't try to hide them, in fact, point out that you're nervous, show your shaking hands, make it part of your performing character, make it work [i]for[/i] you instead of against you. I found that the audience tends to find this endearing, and actually be more receptive that way. Maybe it's a function of you having just "humanized" yourself instead of presenting yourself as a superior being (something magicians are known to do from time to time...).

After a few minutes the nerves subside, and when you hit them with your first effect, they are all the more impressed because they weren't expecting it.

It's sort of along the lines of, it's better to not promise too much and then over-deliver, than to promise Amazing Feats of Conjuring and then pull out your hot rod... ;)

Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Sep 4, 2009 01:42PM)
Perhaps you should understand what is happening first, then it is not so scary.

First of all we are primitave animals. We have 2 responses to things, FIGHT or FLIGHT. Period. So to get ready for either possability your body will do certain things.

First, it shuts down your stomach and redirects blood. Many people inturpret this as "knots" or "butterflies" but it is NORMAL!

Next some adrenaline is nice so your hands start to shake a bit. NORMAL. More oxygen to the blood so the muscles get more oxygen. You start breathing heavier, and you start to sweat some. NORMAL!

This is all simply your body getting ready to be at it's very best. It is not anything to be worried about, it is energy you can redirect.

Too often people get spooked by this and in reality it is your body wanting to be at the very top of the game. Understand and USE it to your advantage.
Message: Posted by: Donnie Buckley (Sep 4, 2009 03:31PM)
I can't add much to the sound advice that has already been offered here, but this thread reminded me of this:
I forget who it was that said something along the lines of "if you don't get a litte case of the nerves before every performance, no matter how long you've been doing it, then give it up, you suck."
The idea behind that thought is that in order to get nervous about your performance, and the act, and the audience reaction, and all, you have to care about it. If you don't get a little nervous, then you just don't care enough to be any good and you are just walking thru it.
So, getting a little nervous before you have to go on is a good thing - it means you're a performer that cares about is act and his audience. Just take a deep breath, go with that thought, smile and roll into it!
Message: Posted by: necroloid (Sep 7, 2009 07:05PM)
My problem is that I naturaly shake when performing. This happened when I was doing Stand up comedy and improve. No one really noticed because I was moving around on stage.It was just something I did and got used to it while performing. This is the way I have been for 20 years. I still tremble after all of these years.
Now that I am trying my hand at magic the trembles are a big problem. I have given up on close up but I still hope I can do some parlor stuff. Any one with a simular predicament?
Message: Posted by: BCaldwell (Sep 10, 2009 04:34PM)
On 2009-09-04 16:31, DDecae wrote:
I can't add much to the sound advice that has already been offered here, but this thread reminded me of this:
I forget who it was that said something along the lines of "if you don't get a litte case of the nerves before every performance, no matter how long you've been doing it, then give it up, you suck."
[/quote]I love this! :)