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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Time after time » » Talented or talentless? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

seandixie
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Hi all, I've been working on card magic for a little over two years now and following all the rules- pretty much constant practice. In front of the mirror, whilst watching TV, on the bus, in my lunch hour etc, etc. I've spoken to the guys in International Magic, been to conventions, and oh the dvds and books... Well, the thing is, why can I do a trick perfect, time and again (well nearly), but as soon as it's time to perform I mess it up! :-(

It seems to me that with the exception of Tom at work (as easy to work as putty! I may even start to lend him out) everyone I perform to just burns my hands bits. I'll lose the card, split a DL in the middle of the move, you name it.

A quick note on me, I'm a hairdresser by trade and like to think I'm Fairly dexterous with my hands. Performing? Well I've travelled the world teaching anything from small informal groups to being on stage in front of a thousand people with head a head mike on and being filmed doing my thing. So why the nerves when asked to perform?

What do you guys think? Is this art something that we can all get in the end or do some people just not have the ability no matter how hard they try?
S2000magician
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Yorba Linda, CA
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Everyone here was nervous the first few (say, two to three thousand) times they were asked to perform, and everyone here has made the mistakes you've mentioned and more.

Some of us are still nervous every time we perform, although for reasons other than being concerned about botching the sleight-of-hand.

The sage advice is to learn a few effects that require no sleights, and work on your presentation. The idea is that you'll be able to concentrate on the entertainment aspect, rather than the dexterity. Once you have a few (fewer than two to three thousand) successful performances under your belt, you can start to add the more difficult material into your performing repertoire.
irishguy
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It isn't about a lack of ability. It is probably two reasons:

One, you are getting nervous. That makes you skiddish and less likely to work smoothly.

Two, never underestimate crowd control. Spectators will burn you only as long as you allow them to. Misdirection is key.

Never think that you are just talentless. Learning moves is one thing, performing them is something else. Just work on the performance angle. You will mess up from time to time until you learn to control your spectators... but over time you will improve. The nervousness goes away once you start having more confidence in your ability to misdirect.
BarryFernelius
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You've practiced quite a lot, and that is very admirable. Good for you!

Now, it's time to REHEARSE. In rehearsal, you perform exactly as you plan to perform in front of an audience. Rehearsal is NOT done casually, while watching TV. Rehearsal demands your full attention at every moment. You say your lines (even if no one is there), and you go through the EXACT procedure that you're going to follow in performance. If you mess up, you WILL NOT STOP. Instead, you'll think on your feet, and figure out a way to get out of whatever trouble you may find yourself in.

You'll make some alterations to your routines, putting in safety checks to make sure that you won't mess up. You'll fix everything that's broken. At the end of a long rehearsal session, you should feel like you've WORKED HARD.

When you feel that you've finally rehearsed an effect enough, you should resist the temptation to perform the effect for a real audience. Instead, you should work on the effect in rehearsal for at least one additional MONTH.

Then, you can take your material out in the real world and perform it for people. Doing magic live, for real audiences, is the only way to lose the jitters that you will have when you perform. The first 1000 repetitions will be the hardest. After that, it will become a bit easier.
"To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time."

-Leonard Bernstein
seandixie
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Thanks guys, and Barry that is indeed sage advice- my thanks. I have been told before that it's the first ten years that are the hardest. :-0
Tony Noice
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Also, remember actor Robert Ryan's advice after 35 years of experience: "The day I don't get nervous before a take is the day I quit this business."
Dan Magyari
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I would add one additional step to what Barry suggests (prior to going out and performing for the masses), and that is to show your work to someone whose opinion you trust implicitly. Ask them to be brutally honest and to tell you everything they possibly can about your performance (negatives and positives)- take notes. This person doesn't have to be a magician, just someone who has a good eye and ear for entertaining performance. Gather this information and either start over or modify until you and your honest friend are happy.

Rehearsal is great if what you're rehearsing is ultimately entertaining- do yourself a favor and let someone else help you understand whether that is the case or not.

Good luck!
Everything you do -- everything -- has your signature on it. Regardless of whether you intend it that way or not. And that's how people perceive you.-George Ledo
BarryFernelius
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Dan's got a great suggestion. Magicians are not always the best people to use for the task that Dan described. Ideally, if you have a friend who's a director at a theatre, he/she can help you enormously. (If you don't have such a friend, take an acting class, connect up with some theatre people, and make friends with a director!)

Here's another helpful suggestion, that's a bit harder to do, but quite useful.

Video tape a few rehearsal sessions. (If you don't have a video camera, borrow one. Then, save up your money and buy a video camera as soon as possible!) Don't watch the tape the same day that you made it. (Important!) Then, the next day, watch yourself as you perform the effect. Yikes! This is gonna be painful the first hundred or so times that you try it. If you can be honest with yourself (not always easy to do!), this can improve your magic tenfold the very first time that you try it.
"To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time."

-Leonard Bernstein
Logan
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Seandixie,

There's lots of great advice here. I agree with every single one of you. Fantastic advice!

Remember seandixie, being nervous is only human. You should feel worried if you DIDN'T feel nervous.

Try to start your act with 2-3 tricks that are simple and smooth. This should nullify your nervousness. Once you break the nervousness then you can carry on to do things that require more confidence, and by that time your confidence AND your audience will be on your side.

Take care buddy,

Logan
You've been hit by, you've been struck by, a smooth criminal.

Singapore's Hairiest Corporate Comedy Magician!
Corey Harris
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Sean, nervousness is a normal thing. I am an Independent Professional Wrestler and have performed in front of a few thousand people at once. I get shaking when doing magic sometimes. I have also made my share of mistakes during performance time with cards. Just recently I was doing ambitious card and could not get the DL for the life of me. I just had to cover it up. I used some comedy, I think my exact phrase was, "I guess your card decided to take the stairs instead of the elevator." It really relaxed the situation and got a good laugh out of the people there.
Dan McLean Jr aka, Magic Roadie
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Quote:
On 2005-02-03 17:03, seandixie wrote:
A quick note on me, I'm a hairdresser by trade and like to think I'm Fairly dextrus with my hands. Performing? Well I've travelled the world teaching anything from small informal groups to being on stage in front of a thousand people with head a head mike on and being filmed doing my thing. So why the nerves when asked to perform?


seandixie,
I used to be a professional singer, and can write & arrange music quite well. When it comes to magic, which I've only been doing for about 6 years, I get the weebles pretty bad! As you mentioned, it doesn't make sense on one level. On the other hand, with my experience in music, I have no problem deciding to change the key of a song, deciding where to put a chorus or bridge, or naturally ulilizing vibrato or any number of other subtle inflections. Not only that, but I don't even second-guess myself! Someone with less experience and less confidence might fret over such decisions for a very long time!

My point is that, the reason you make mistakes with your magic, but not on-stage with your chosen vocation, is, in part, that your mastery over your craft is second-nature. When I'm singing, I don't expend much effort thinking about the technical aspects of what I'm doing. Instead, I think about the song, and about affecting the audience. If I had to think about each note and each word, I'm pretty sure it wouldn't come across as well.

My point is that the tips everyone's outlined above wil help to get you closer to second-nature performance, and that's exactly what will give you comfort, confidence, and a successful performance!

I know I haven't said anything that the others haven't said, seandixie, but I hope the way I've said it will resonate and make sense for you.
Cheers!
Dan McLean Jr
seandixie
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Thanks for all your help guys, I should definitely lurk less!
Zac Vee
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If you think that making mistakes is something natural, and all the professional magicians makes mistakes, and have to be a little blunt when making mistakes, don't get uncomfortable because that way you will make it worse. Don't let the mistake control you, you control the mistakes, and move into another effect when making a mistake. That way you will soon get over it, just like I did. Smile
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Andrew Loh
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Hi folks,

I don't know whether you folks experience before like me.

Due to sometimes to reduce the nervousness in our performance, I usually start off with some easy or self-working tricks first or some mentalism effects, then after that when I feel there is less nervourness already, I will perform some card effects that require some sleight-of-hand magic.

What do you think folks??? Smile

Best,
Andrew Loh
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CrazyJack
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Quote:
On 2005-02-03 17:03, seandixie wrote:
Hi all, I've been working on card magic for a little over two years now and following all the rules-pretty much constant practice. In front of the mirror, whilst watching TV, on the bus, in my lunch hour etc etc. I've spoken to the guys in International magic, been to conventions and oh the dvds and books... Well, the thing is why can I do a trick perfect time and again(well nearly)but as soon as it's time to perform I mess it up! :-( It seems to me that with the exception of Tom at work(as easy to work as putty! I may even start to lend him out) every one I perform to just burns my hands bits. I'll lose the card, split a DL in the middle of the move you name it.

A quick note on me, I'm a hairdresser by trade and like to think I'm Fairly dextrus with my hands. Performing? Well I've travelled the world teaching anything from small informal groups to being on stage in front of a thousand people with head a head mike on and being filmed doing my thing. So why the nerves when asked to perform?

What do you guys think? Is this art something that we can all get in the end or do some people just not have the ability no matter how hard they try?



I think it is because you are nervous, but you do not feel it. But when you are going to perform a trick, do you forget a second what it was you were going to do and instead for just relax? Do you take and mess all up?
Uh...
Nick Wait
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Nerves can be good, they're what can give you that added flare. I often find that when I'm not nervous, my performance can be lacking that added sparkle. Shaking hands, etc., however are not good. These need to be controlled. Exercises like deep breaths can control this, but the best way is performance after performance. Perform when ever you can. You don't just need to practice the tricks and the moves, you need to practice the performance. Be sure what you are going to say. If you ever watch one of the big name magicians perform, you can be confident that if you were to watch them do that trick for a new audience, it would be almost identical. I am not saying that you should have a set patter which you must stick to, but if you write out what you want to say, then you can tend to mould the basic patter for the venue, audience, etc. I also find that I am much more comfortable performing for strangers rather than friends.

Nick

P.S. If you didn't understand what I have just said, don't worry because neither did I.
Big Daddy Cool
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There is a huge difference between practice and rehearsal. That has not been touched on yet. You can practice individual moves to perfection, and never be performance ready. Only rehearsal will make you ready.

OK, so what's the difference? To rehearse means to practice a routine just like you plan to perform it. From beginning to end, with full script. Every move, every word, every glance. Rehearse it till you think it's perfect, and then rehearse it another week. Only solid rehearsal will help this situation.

And all the rehearsal in the world will fully eliminate nervousness. But I know what will... Maybe I'll share someday.
Swing hard, swing often, and we'll catch ya on the Flip-Side!
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Brent McLeod
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Quote:
On 2005-02-03 17:15, BarryFernelius wrote:
You've practiced quite a lot, and that is very admirable. Good for you!

Now, it's time to REHEARSE. In rehearsal, you perform exactly as you plan to perform in front of an audience. Rehearsal is NOT done casually, while watching TV. Rehearsal demands your full attention at every moment. You say your lines (even if no one is there), and you go through the EXACT procedure that you're going to follow in performance. If you mess up, you WILL NOT STOP. Instead, you'll think on your feet, and figure out a way to get out of whatever trouble you may find yourself in.

You'll make some alterations to your routines, putting in safety checks to make sure that you won't mess up. You'll fix everything that's broken. At the end of a long rehearsal session, you should feel like you've WORKED HARD.

When you feel that you've finally rehearsed an effect enough, you should resist the temptation to perform the effect for a real audience. Instead, you should work on the effect in rehearsal for at least one additional MONTH.

Then, you can take your material out in the real world and perform it for people. Doing magic live, for real audiences, is the only way to lose the jitters that you will have when you perform. The first 1000 repetitions will be the hardest. After that, it will become a bit easier.


Barry-

Wow!-So Well Said-Should be sent to every new Magician wishing to perform.

Rehearsal is so important-You must run through from start to finish your whole act & don't stop as mentioned.

You'll find moves that don't work & also where to put down & pick things up etc.

Also try some effects that are less- difficult until you are ready etc.

Cheers
Mark Storms
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I've been there! I never acutally messed up the moves but boy did I shake. The pack used to jump up and down in my hand. The only cure for performance nerves is performance. I admit that I still get nervous and shake but not nearly as much as I used to. Another good way to get over it is to point it out and make fun of it. "Is that an earthquake or is it just my hands" or if you mess up a move have something in mind to hit them with while they are misdirected. If they caught your mess up and voiced it they are probably not paying attention and at that moment you can take advantage of the situation.

Good luck my friend... You have many happy performaces ahead!
Find out what you cannot do.., Then go and do it!
JJDrew
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Assuming you're rehearsing and not just practicing (as defined by earlier posts) here's something else to consider.

Are the performance conditions different from the ones you rehearse in? For example, I've spent a lot of time lately rehearsing for an upcoming competition. I rehearse outside because there's a nice open space to set up like a stage. Yesterday I went out to rehearse in the evening rather than the early afternoon.

The result? The air was cooler and the difference threw me off. The props felt different and my hands were stiffer. If I had gone on stage and the air was cool, I would have messed up my entire routine. I'll be practicing from now on in a variety of temperatures to be prepared for the stage.

I've practiced things sitting down, only to flub them completely when I try to practice them standing up.

I've practiced something absentmindedly, only to mess up during performance because I'm overthinking my act and focusing too hard on what I'm doing.

I have a friend who spent years performing magic only when he had a few drinks in him. Now that he has quit drinking, he has forgotton a lot of the magic he used to know. What he does remember, he has had to relearn, because his body reacts differently then if he were drinking.

I don't perform magic if I've had more than two drinks because I know I will blow it. I don't rehearse with alcohol in my system, and my body isn't good at coping with the difference (I've also learned the hard way not to juggle knives when I'm tipsy).

I know someone else who ritually drinks an energy drink before performing. If he stopped this habit, it could easily throw him off his game.

Look at your performance setting and see how it differs from your rehearsal setting. There could be something more then just nerves throwing you off.
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