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Shawn74
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This is more of a rehtorical(sp?) question, but I hope it does get others to open up and share experiances and thoughts on the subject. And though I will use the word "I" in here, I'm certain that I'm not the only one who has found this to be true or who has expericanced this.

Why is it that when I am messing around at home(I don't know if I can call it practice because the though I will use the mirror to check angles and the like, I tend not to do that too much because then I end up standing in the bathroom for hours on end)I can do effects and sleights and they look really good. Good enough to fool my wife when she's watching, even though she knows how it's done from weeks and months of watchig me mess with the piece, but the minute I go to show someone on that rare occassion that I am talked into "performing", everything falls apart?

The script that I had in place does not come as easily or flow as well as it should. The hands fumble or stick where they shouldn't. The same angle that worked so well at home is off just enough. Or the inevitable, someone decides to burn my hands like they were about to bring on the end of civilization as we know it.

I go to great pains to present myself in anything but a confrontational way. Part of that is why I don't "perform" as much as I should, not wanting to force magic on anyone. Also, even after 10+ years of practice, study and what-not, the fear of blowing a trick and revealing the secrets of magic are still there in the back of my mind. I know this has something to do with why the hands are so much better at home than out in public, but certainly this couldn't be the only reason...

Like I said, opinions and advice is always appriciated and I'm always gratefull to hear what others have to say. But has anyone else had this problem? Have you gotten over it? How?

I'm just hoping that some of this info may help some of those new into magic as well to know that they are not alone with "stage fright". "performance anxiety" or whatever you may want to call it. And maybe it can even help them overcome this obstacle.

Thank you again for your input
Shawn
Hold your breath...make a wish...count to 3... and you'll be in a world of pure imagination
Willy Wonka
Jaz
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All this happens to me...sometimes. having been into magic, for fun, for a long time, I'm pretty much in the same situation as you.
Some degree of concern is always there.
At home we're relaxed, alone, no eyes upon us and no concerns about exposing or blowing the effect. Sometimes patter that I thought would work well sounded bad when in front of people.

There are people that I feel comfortable around after only a couple of moments of knowing them. Things usually go well then. When I'm around some others, and I don't get those good vibes, I tend to get nervous and often fumble somewhere in the routine. I also tend to avoid doing anything for them.

Stage fright has been discussed here at the Café a few times. Some handle it well while others shake, sweat bullets and nearly fall apart.

One suggestion is to take your time and try to be in the same relaxed state as when practicing at home. As you perform your practiced and rehearsed routinee a few times things should improve. You learn as you go. Don't be afraid of messing up, it happens to everyone.
eddieloughran
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I used to be very nervious and was worried that things would go wrong. I would forget my script, my hands would shake, and all the rest of it.

The answer is not practise; I think its down to confidence. Going out and fooling people. Getting it wrong and bouncing back, although you will fail fewer times than you expect.

Have a SMALL number of effects that you have confidence in and go out and do them.
NOW.
Don't wait until a better time, or give up after one trick. Keep going.
Go with a friend to the pub. Show him some tricks. The presure will be there, others will watch, but it will be easier.

I'm inclined to think the difference beween winners and losers is often down to one keeping going and not giving in.

Commitment.
Just think - if you had worked through this ten years ago, you would of had ten years experience.
Gerald
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Shawn,
You are exactly right. Things do “feel” different when you perform. There is no real way to simulate actual performance. A mirror doesn’t do it, a video camera won’t either. Although these things are helpful for specific purposes, there is no substitute for performing experience. Practice systematically, consistently and intelligently to prepare to perform. Perform the same few tricks many times for a variety of audience types and situations. Gain confidence and skill in performing these few tricks. You’ll probably learn more about the tricks by performing them than you did in their preparation. Performing is part of the learning process. It is exciting and creative! You’ll get a buzz out of it. I know your spectators will too!

Best of luck!

Gerald
markiquark
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Yes, it is bizarr. Myself, I am not even a performer, I just like to entertain myself with it...and maybe my girlfirend. But, the other day this guy came to my place and showed me a card trick. He is a complete layman, he only knows a few tricks and that's it. Actually his trick was good. He also did not know I like magic. But he has not dug himself for countless hours through books and websites, nerver practiced anything. All of the sudden I didn't even know what to show him, so finally decided to go with "one for the money", a card trick that is SO easy, but when I handed him the deck my hands were - visibly - shaking. I mean...imagine that. First I messed up the instructions I gave him (appearently, even though he admitted later he was trying to fool me), so it got screwed up - and then, the second time, he obviously knew what was coming, so I got caught doing the move as well. Just aweful. I am wondering if after all this time - I live kind of secluded - of dealing with magic but never showing anyobdy anything, my subconsciouss reacted kind of panicked. After all, it's my great passion. But well.

Is this normal, though? Is this one of those fears that goes away when you face it head on, or is this a fear that is supposedly reflects your overall state. If you say the latter, guess it's time to jump of the bridge.
If you are going to Puerto Vallarta on your acations, let me know and write me a PM. I am interested in meeting magicians.
Gerald
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Markiquark,
No, it’s not time for the bridge! Most any normal person would be nervous about performing if not prepared. Trying to perform, even a simple card trick, without preparation is a plan for failure. There is an answer. Practice and prepare to perform! Much of the anxiety will subside. Really work on about three good card tricks and prepare for the next time you have a chance to perform. You’ll be glad you did. So will the spectators. The more you perform those three tricks, the more confidence you will gain and the nervousness will subside.

Good luck!

Gerald
Jarana
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Shawn,

I have exaclty the same problem, I will say sometimes a lot worse, my hand shake and I sweat when going to do a trick for real persons, but like most say over here the trick is to be persistent and keep on, trust me mistakes WILL HAPPEN, but the key is to just to keep getting back up once you fall. I started doing kids birthday shows about one year and a half ago, and I still have problems walking into kids parties and doing the shows, but I keep on- I've read somewhere that after your 50th performance you are considered a proffesional- well I think I've past the 50th and the nervousness has not fully gone away- I mean my wife goes with me to the shows as my assistant and I still have not had the courage to do a party myself!! we both dress as clowns, but I'm plannning on getting a magicians tux, maybe that will help relieve the preasure and hopefully I can do a show my myself- Problem is she does a trick while I do animal loads, so don't know how I would do this without her.

But on the nervous part- I think knowing that just getting out there and doing it and facing the fact that mistakes will happen - is the only way to succeed.

Hope this helps

Jaime
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ithomson
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Shawn74

I wonder if you may be practising more than you are rehearsing.

Gerald's "The Ostrich Factor" goes into the different approaches extremely well, as do other works. But basically practise is getting the individual sleights right, while rehearsal is going through the entire "show" or routine exactly as you would present it to a customer.

Basically, in my experience, even if you've done enough practise to get the sleights and effects right, if you haven't done enough rehearsal you're likely to blow it in a real performance.

[As an aside, Goshman recommended practising your sleights only during rehearsal, thereby eliminating any stopping or starting as you prepare to do a move. And Michael Close suggests finding a routine you want to perfrom, and then learning the sleights required to perform it (as opposed to learning a sleight first and then finding a trick for it). Both ideas work for me. They mean that you're automatically going from practise to rehearsal as early as possible.]

So, my suggestion would be to look at how you're "practising", and then work it into rehearsing. And then rehearse as often and as frequently as you can, even after you think you've got it down pat. The more you rehearse, the more your confidence will grow. After a while, when you're performing in the real world, your rehearsal experience will take over, allowing you to compensate for the myriad of variables that can make every performance a challenge without having to worry about what's going on - because you're rehearsed it so often.

Hope that helps.

Ian
CasualSoul
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It's like deja-vu reading some of this. I also get the shakes sometimes. It's so strange when it happens as it's usually when performing a routine or effect for the first time with someone I'm close to rather than a stranger. I never get nervous performing for strangers. Isn't that weird?

When I used to smoke, and when smoking was allowed in the bars, I first cut my performance teeth by bumming smokes off people in exchange for magic. Sure, I could've just bought my own smokes, but getting them this way was more fun and invaluable performance experience. It was also a great way to meet girls. Other than actually getting out there busking, I can't imagine a better way to gain such diverse and dynamic performance experience for the type of magic I'm most interested in.
"Open their mind by performing the impossible"
HusssKarson
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Rehearsal is way more important than just practice!!
Xaethia
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I do not perform magic but I enjoy acting (although haven't done a play in a while).

I find it much easier to be in front of people when I am in character. I find this much easier for I know this is not me. Also I find that I think like the character (not completely but enough) so you can choose whether to be confident etc.

Plays are different than magic performances, yes.

There's a psychological technique that actors use to gain quick confidence, anyone can use it:

You imagine your most powerful image of you feeling confident for, let's say 30 seconds. As you do with you hand close it into a fist and tap your left shoulder (or what ever cue you want it to be). Do this 3 times and repeat it 3 times a day.
Remember, the image must be a powerful one.

You can do this for any sensation/feeling, like being relaxed. Just imagine you a powerful image of when you felt relaxed and add a cue to it (eg. rubbing your left ear with your right hand).

Xaethia Smile
"Technique beats skill. Psychology beats technique. Philosophy beats all. Think about it." CrdShk
Mary Mowder
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I use visualization in two ways preparing for a performance that makes me nervous.

I picture everything going great, the audience giving positive energy, me happy to please such a great crowd and all ends wonderfully well. I do this most often as the Show approaches. By the time of the Show I'm in love with this great crowd who have helped me so in my preparation. Sometimes I just picture it and sometimes I rehearse with that in mind.

I also practice thinking about someone who would make me nervous watching like my partner ready to critique or a famous Magician or Family Member. After a while of this visualization my nerves just can't sustain their agitated state and I relax a little. By the way I also picture this performance going well as I practice.

eddieloughran is right though, It's not the end of the world to fail. It can even be freeing. Many years ago I 'bout fell apart from nerves performing in front of a large Magic crowd. I couldn't believe how supportive and helpful they were. They even claimed they didn't notice. I've never been so nervous since. In general people want you to succeed .

-Mary Mowder
Phil Tawa
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Allow me another analogy as to how I compare mu music career with my magic.
A sleight to a magician is a chord to a musician. As a musician I found that on
practicing chords and scale runs they became dry and soulless. So what I did was incorporate something I wanted to learn into a song or trick as you would have it.
So....Practice the sleight/chord until you are fairly comfortable with it then put it in a song/trick. When you are getting it down do it slow and deliberately right. Take the time to do it right.Your muscles have a memory and will do it automatic after so many repetitions. Then you have to remember to never do it carelessly which you will have a tendency to do over time. That is hoe embedded it gets. Hope these theories helped.
kal
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Like ithompson states (and others) rehearsal is far more important than practice, because it incorporates practice as well as all the other aspects that can affect your performance.
I would suggest having a loud television on in the background while you do your rehearsal. It simulates a noisy environment for one, and it also gives you the experience of a 'presence', no matter how fake, in the room with you. A loud, flashy, distracting box.
Now do your rehearsal again, without the tv, and you'll have a nice sense of calm and quiet. Try and remember that feeling, and cultivate that calm assuredness.

Find as many opportunities to talk in public as well. Create, learn and tell stories to lots of people when you are out. Get comfortable with people listening to you and watching you. Get used to 'performing' and being the center of attention. When you have to add a magic effect it will be less obtrusive and unnatural than before.
I'm always honest about when I'm lying. And I'm always lying...
Simon Mandal
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One piece of advice that is helpful is to practice a lot WITHOUT a mirror, (as well as with a mirror.)
You can get used to seeing yourself reflected.
Not seeing this may be part of what is throwing you.
Good luck!
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