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Topic: How should I practice?
Message: Posted by: Emillors (Dec 14, 2020 02:39PM)
Hello everybody

I have just started reading and study Card College. I have came to the first part of controls, and I love it. I really thinks that Robert Giobbi is doing an excellent job.

Now to my question.
How should I keep practicing the different moves, so I don't forget how to them, and always try to be better at the different moves?

I have thought about something like this:
I write a slight on a playing card. Doing it for all the slights I have to practice. I then collect all the cards into a form of a deck, and then I every day pick one of these cards, and just practice that slight there is on the card. What do people think of this idea?

Hope somebody can help.
Regards
Emil
Message: Posted by: Topper2 (Dec 14, 2020 05:21PM)
When I started magic I learnt from general books which taught effects from the various branches of magic, and that included cards. The first magic book I ever bought was Bruce Elliot's 'Classic Secrets of Magic' and from that I learnt my first 'real' card trick, namely an ambitious card routine involving double and triple lifts. In other words by thoroughly learning particular tricks I was able to pick up the necessary moves required to perform the effect. I did not learn the sleight first and then hunt for a trick that might need that sleight. These days books like Mark Wilson will teach the beginner how to so some first rate effects including Triumph and Stewart James's 'I can go further'; similarly other books, like Peter Eldin's Pocket Book of Magic' may teach tricks like 'Out of this World', and you soon find that the ability to false cut and false shuffle, control cards, and force cards and how to exchange decks are massively helpful to putting the tricks you learn over to best effect. If you have Card College, or some other reference source (and in my early days it was Norman's 'Basic Card Technique') then you have a wonderful source to consult in perfecting all the moves you need.

What I'm suggesting here is that it is much more constructive to learn a small quota of really sound effects and perfect them so you can put them across to your best ability, and thereby acquire the necessary skills rather than ploughing ahead with multiple sleights many of which you'll never need. By all means have a careful study of all the material in books like Card College but I consider it counter productive thinking you somehow need to know every available move. That can come later but learn to do good tricks with cards first and dip into your reference source as and when you need it.

Some really good entertainers with cards do excellent work that is sleight free, some magicians learn every sleight in the book but end up entertaining no one but themselves!
Message: Posted by: JonHackl (Dec 14, 2020 08:41PM)
I have several practice modes. In a single practice session, let's say a half an hour just as an example, I might drill a single sleight through that whole period. In that case, something like your deck of cards idea would be cool, but I would use it for a session rather than for a whole day. Anyway, the sleights I drill this way will be new ones I'm picking up and/or very difficult ones that I know will take a long time and lots of practice.

Another practice mode I have is drilling multiple sleights within a single session, in which case I might just run through each a few times and then move to the next kind of randomly. Which sleights I use in this mode will usually be a combination of new ones or long-term learning ones, and just whatever I feel like doing at the time.

Then there's running through tricks as another practice mode, which means practicing sleights within the contexts in which they'll be used. I keep two lists of tricks, those I enjoy and am ready to do, and those I like but am not ready to do. So I might run through either list in one of these sessions, or some of both.

And I really like Topper2's point about practicing selectively. I don't have an interest in collecting sleights for their own sake, although if that's what someone else likes then of course that's great for them. But I add to my practice priorities sleights that I think will fill an important niche or gap in my abilities, and that will give enough benefit to justify the time and effort the sleight requires to learn.
Message: Posted by: Haruspex (Dec 15, 2020 03:15AM)
It depends allot on what your main interest is.

- If your interest and enjoyment lies in learning allot of sleights or trying to master every card control there is, the idea of writing them on a
playing card and selecting a few of each practice session will suit the purpose.

- If however you want to learn effects and routines, you will benefit more from practicing these routines as a whole.
When doing it this way you can focus on the effects you want to accomplish in your routine first, when you have decides what you want to do, you can think about
how to do it and select sleights that fit the particular routine best. Finally you may want to think about an alternative handling for certain venues.

If your focus lies in performing and practicing/inventing routines, chances are big that in time you will rely on set of sleights which suit you best. You may
learn more, but in performance you will often go back the your "core sleights".
Message: Posted by: copperct (Dec 15, 2020 12:47PM)
Hey Emillors - As someone who has recently "completed" the Royal Road to Card Magic, I can tell you that even though I have arrived at the last page and worked through all of the moves, I still didn't actually need to be performance-ready on every single move. Some moves like the Overhand Lift Shuffle took me longer to work out the fluid muscle memory while others like the Glide really come down to the blocking on the individual tricks I am working on performing to ensure it remains natural.

Long story short, I've found it most productive to spend about 20 minutes a day working through some of the muscle memory sleights that I want to have performance ready, while the rest of my time has been spent on rehearsing tricks from beginning to end until they are so natural it's second nature. I've gotten to that point with a couple, and I will say it is tedious, but performance is so much more relaxed and avoids the feeling of being about to be caught.
Message: Posted by: Emillors (Dec 19, 2020 09:35AM)
Thank you everybody! You have given me some useful tips for my future studying! I'm gonna use them for sure!
So thank you very much! ;D

Merry Christmas
Message: Posted by: landmark (Dec 20, 2020 12:01PM)
Don't forget there's a whole section on the Magic Café devoted to questions of practice and rehearsal:
https://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewforum.php?forum=108&3176
Message: Posted by: HofzinsersFan (Dec 25, 2020 04:55AM)
Be careful of the newbie trap - or so it was described to me by a very proficient magician! What I mean is exactly what I used to do: I had been doing magic only for a few weeks when I stepped up my practice time and began to practice cards solidly for about 3 to 4 hours per session and no less than 2 session most days. Yes you read that right, that was between 6 and 8 hours a day of mostly, card repetitions. I was studying the side steal at one point and I would repeat the side steal for 4 hours, each time trying to make it better than the last. I was never just blindly repeating things, I would do ten moves, analysing them and then looking at how to I prove and then spending lots of time actually working towards the improvements. I will say one thing though - I explored that move like nothing on earth! I got to know it inside and outside, backwards and forwards and every which way that was possible but I cannot say it made me better than people who have done it the other way, that is, for a half hour per day!
I learned eventually that short practice sessions often yield the best results and so I changed to that. I did get good results an so I no longer find myself walking around the room for 4 hours again!(I have the habit of not being able to stay still when practicing an in the hands move so I pace around. Great exercise!)
So my advice is simple. Be aware of practicing for too long and mistakenly equating length of time with better practice. It isn't. If anything, fatigue sets in and the practice quality very likely drops.
Message: Posted by: livejeh (Dec 29, 2020 06:39PM)
👍🏻
Message: Posted by: 3sdb (Jan 1, 2021 11:05AM)
All good points.

For myself, I find that practicing in the context of routines (as opposed to simply moves) is far more helpful - getting patter down and the timing of it right, learning the transition between various moves, etc. - practice in the context of performance is where the gains really come from.
Message: Posted by: Mark Boody Illusionist (Jan 2, 2021 09:05AM)
Here is a resource that would be helpful to all magicians.

The Ostrich Factor by Gerald Edmundson.

http://www.geraldedmundson.com/tof1/bookorder.htm

Read some of the reviews here:

http://www.geraldedmundson.com/tof1/TOFReviews.htm

I have this book and highly recommend it.

Mark
Message: Posted by: TKD27 (Jan 2, 2021 09:30AM)
One thing about practicing that it took me far too long to learn: slow and steady wins the race. What I mean is, when practicing, don't try to do things at performance speed right away. Doing this builds bad habits that can be impossible to change later. If the move allows for it, practice it slow and steady. Make sure your movement is perfect. Speed comes with time and you don't have to rush that (no pun intended). Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.
Message: Posted by: jkr (Jan 2, 2021 06:40PM)
[quote]On Jan 2, 2021, Mark Boody Illusionist wrote:
Here is a resource that would be helpful to all magicians.

The Ostrich Factor by Gerald Edmundson.

http://www.geraldedmundson.com/tof1/bookorder.htm

Read some of the reviews here:

http://www.geraldedmundson.com/tof1/TOFReviews.htm

I have this book and highly recommend it.

Mark [/quote]

The Ostrich Factor is an amazing resource., worth every penny! It’s incredibly useful for both how to go about learning sleights and for putting together/practicing a routine.

Jacob
Message: Posted by: Nikodemus (Jan 5, 2021 08:17PM)
PERFECT PRACTICE by Doug Lemov is an excellent book on how to practice anything more effectively.

Over the years my hobbies, have included martial arts, music and dancing, as well as magic.
In all of these I have found it best to follow the following general approach -

1. Start with a foundation of basic skills, and then gradually build up your repertoire.
2. At any given time have a fairly small collection of new skills you are working on.
3. Choose these wisely so (1) they are achievable (2) you get maximum payback on the effort you put in.
4. Practice slowly and carefully. Build up speed gradually.
5. You haven't mastered something until you can do it automatically.
6. Frequent short practice sessions work better than infrequent marathon sessions
7. Enjoy the journey, rather than being too focused on the end goal - you will get there eventually.
8. Learn from others, but don't be afraid to experiment.
Message: Posted by: jkr (Jan 5, 2021 09:11PM)
[quote]On Jan 5, 2021, Nikodemus wrote:
PERFECT PRACTICE by Doug Lemov is an excellent book on how to practice anything more effectively.

Over the years my hobbies, have included martial arts, music and dancing, as well as magic.
In all of these I have found it best to follow the following general approach -

1. Start with a foundation of basic skills, and then gradually build up your repertoire.
2. At any given time have a fairly small collection of new skills you are working on.
3. Choose these wisely so (1) they are achievable (2) you get maximum payback on the effort you put in.
4. Practice slowly and carefully. Build up speed gradually.
5. You haven't mastered something until you can do it automatically.
6. Frequent short practice sessions work better than infrequent marathon sessions
7. Enjoy the journey, rather than being too focused on the end goal - you will get there eventually.
8. Learn from others, but don't be afraid to experiment. [/quote]

I’ve never heard of this book before. I’ll have to check it out.

Out of your list #7 is the one I need to keep reminding myself of!
Message: Posted by: PhantomStranger (Jan 6, 2021 04:44AM)
6. Frequent short practice sessions work better than infrequent marathon sessions

I think this is so true. When I’m first learning a method I will spend a “marathon” amount of time understanding all the moves and mentally grasping the method and effect. But then to get the muscle memory down it’s many small practice sessions. While watching tv just taking the cards and doing the moves a few times. Putting it down. Coming back to it in a bit and practicing it again. Slowly building the muscle memory in short bursts. Till it becomes second nature.
Message: Posted by: copperct (Jan 6, 2021 03:01PM)
[quote]On Jan 5, 2021, Nikodemus wrote:
PERFECT PRACTICE by Doug Lemov is an excellent book on how to practice anything more effectively.

Over the years my hobbies, have included martial arts, music and dancing, as well as magic.
In all of these I have found it best to follow the following general approach -

1. Start with a foundation of basic skills, and then gradually build up your repertoire.
2. At any given time have a fairly small collection of new skills you are working on.
3. Choose these wisely so (1) they are achievable (2) you get maximum payback on the effort you put in.
4. Practice slowly and carefully. Build up speed gradually.
5. You haven't mastered something until you can do it automatically.
6. Frequent short practice sessions work better than infrequent marathon sessions
7. Enjoy the journey, rather than being too focused on the end goal - you will get there eventually.
8. Learn from others, but don't be afraid to experiment. [/quote]

Adding this to the list of things to read! Sounds like a great read!
Message: Posted by: Nikodemus (Jan 6, 2021 06:57PM)
[quote]On Jan 6, 2021, PhantomStranger wrote:
6. Frequent short practice sessions work better than infrequent marathon sessions

I think this is so true. When I’m first learning a method I will spend a “marathon” amount of time understanding all the moves and mentally grasping the method and effect. But then to get the muscle memory down it’s many small practice sessions. While watching tv just taking the cards and doing the moves a few times. Putting it down. Coming back to it in a bit and practicing it again. Slowly building the muscle memory in short bursts. Till it becomes second nature. [/quote]

Me too! I go through an initial period of analysis & experimentation as I try to kind of take something apart to see how it works, then put it back together again.
Message: Posted by: Gerald (Jan 10, 2021 04:35PM)
Thank you Mark and JKR! I'm glad you have found The Ostrich Factor helpful with your practice. "Practice makes perfect." We all know it really doesn't. We can approach perfection, but few, if any ever attain it. If we practice in an organized, intelligent, consistent manner, our results can be far better than if we practice haphazardly. Thanks again for your interest in the methods in my book. I do appreciate it.

Best regards,
Gerald
Message: Posted by: gaddy (Jan 15, 2021 02:24PM)
I think I understand what you mean. You're talking about practicing many individual sleights, right?

I would suggest not doing so.

Try practicing an entire individual trick, and focusing on the slights you need for that trick.

My opinion is that, unlike practicing activities like guitar chords and licks (or other fine motor manipulations like this) grinding multiple individual slights -out of context, isn't really useful. I've tried it and it doesn't work for me.

YMMV, of course..
Message: Posted by: Gerald (Jan 16, 2021 07:07AM)
I believe Gaddy is right. Of course, "Different strokes for different folks.” But you get a feel for the pacing, attention control, misdirection, patter, etc. when practicing a sleight within the context of a trick. This "feel" for the sleight can then be transferred to other tricks. Elements may change with another trick, but you aren't starting at square one.

It’s a good idea to not try to learn every “new” sleight that comes along. Learn tricks that employ basic, classic, time-tested sleights. Many times, new sleights use contrived, complicated, unnatural movements, have angle problems, and are simply not worth the time to learn. There are exceptions, but they are few and far between. Chances are there are more natural, practical basic sleights that accomplish the same thing.

It may sound as if I’m opposed to modern pathways of thought. Nothing could be further from the truth. But if you are performing for the public, you’ll find that most of the time, time-tested sleights and handlings will be much more successful than the “latest and greatest" "new method".

Best,
Gerald
Message: Posted by: randomwraith (Jan 24, 2021 04:07PM)
I think practising sleights is akin to practising scales in music. But just as scales are only a component of a composition, so it is that sleights are only a part of a magic routine. One has to practise the whole piece not just the bit on which it's based - just as scales by themselves won't make you a musician, sleights by themselves won't make you a magician.

There is also a lot to be said for not stopping and restarting when you make a mistake during practise. Again, using the music analogy, all too often people get very good at the first part of the piece, but not so good with the last part. This might sound odd in terms of magic, but you can still go through the motions, the patter and the actions even if you messed up an earlier part of the routine you're practising.

There are many excellent "how to learn" resources on the internet, but more often than not they utilise some form of the "Pomodoro Technique". This is basically: 25 minutes intense work followed by a 5 minute break; repeat three or four times; have a 1/2 hour break.

@Nikodemus - thanks for posting the book suggestion (PERFECT PRACTICE by Doug Lemov).

Martin
Message: Posted by: rickreation (Feb 27, 2021 11:25PM)
Wonderful thread, and so great that the Ostrich Factor is a still available. Just bought a copy. Thanks for the tips, all!