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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Ever so sleightly » » Do We Lose the Ability to Perform Sleights as We Grow Older? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Bill Palmer
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One of the things we learn as we age is economy of movement and efficiency of action. Natural movement can do much more good for well-structured sleight of hand than speed.

One famous quote about magicians states "A conjuror is ... an artist whose fingers have more need to move with deftness than with speed. I may even add that where sleight-of-hand is involved, the quiter the movement of the performer, the more readily will the spectators be deceived." Unfortunately, it is the part that I left out that most people seem to remember.
"The Swatter"

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Douglas.M
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I would like to expand on Bill's wonderful music/magic metaphor. One of my guitar heros is Carlos Santana. I have been seeing the Santana band play since the Seventies. Can Carlos churn out the same blistering solos at the same speed today as he did way back then? Maybe not. But dammit he plays better now then he ever did, with more passion, wisdom, and pure soul- gained through performing, perfecting and living life.

I think the same thing can happen with magic performers. Maybe the sleights aren't as blindingly fast, but they are done smarter and with more unrushed naturalness. They are performed with less effort but more confidence combined with years of audience management and timing know-how. The sleights are no longer seperate "things" seen through young eyes, but are now embedded in the performer organically- meshing with all the other weapons of deception.

What a thing to aspire to!

Douglas M.
Bill Palmer
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Some musicians can say more with one note and a lifetime of experience than they could when they played dozens of notes with little experience.
"The Swatter"

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My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

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Geoff Weber
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Quote:
On 2006-06-29 08:26, Gerald wrote:
John Calvert in the magic world comes to mind. Maybe the old adage “You are as young as you feel.” has some truth in it. I would like to think so.

John Calvert came to my mind too...
It also helps that helps that he has kept himself physically fit. which reminds me... I need to lose weight!
Bill Palmer
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John is a good example. He is really a fine fellow. Last month at NEMCA, John and Tammy were doing a turn. John went out into the audience to get a handkerchief for "Casper." As he walked back onstage, his toe caught a loop of something on the edge of the stage, and he fell. There was a hush from the crowd.

John got up, dusted himself off, looked at the edge of the stage and said, "There's something sticking out there. They'd better be careful. Some OLD guy might trip and hurt himself."

The audience sighed with relief and then laughed heartily.
"The Swatter"

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Gary Dayton
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Quote:
On 2006-11-28 23:34, Bill Palmer wrote:
Some musicians can say more with one note and a lifetime of experience than they could when they played dozens of notes with little experience.



A couple of years ago I saw the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra in a tour they did in the US. When they first came onto the stage, I was struck by their age. There were a few younger folks, but most looked like they were well into their 60s, many in their 70s. Not having seen this orchestra before, I thought to myself, "Well, this will be a drag." Ha!

I have never before nor since heard music so wonderfully and so passionately played. Tears literally rolled down my cheeks. I was truely moved by their music. The rest of the audience was just as moved. At the end of the program, the audienced jumped to it's feet. People were frantically clapping and yelling "Bravo! Bravo!" with wild abandon. I've never heard anything like it, especially since this was a New York crowd at Lincoln Center -- an audience habitually stingy when it comes to enthusiastic applause. We has this symphony orchestra play numerous encores; we kept calling them back 5-6 times. No one--including the musicians--wanted the moment to end. Talk about magic! It was an amazing experience.

I learned that night that age has little to do with anything. Assuming your genetics are reasonably good, it's your spirit and passion that makes the difference--as it does at any age.
Bill Palmer
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My dad told me that when he went to Vienna the first time, he got to hear the orchestra that is basically the heir to the title "Strauss orchestra." Some of the people in it at the time had played when Richard Strauss was still alive. He said their ability to interpret Strauss waltzes was nonpareil. Also, he said that once you heard them play, you understood what "schmalz" really was!
"The Swatter"

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rikbrooks
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I stood in front of Ray Goulett, not an ancient man, but one that is quite seasoned. I watched breathlessly as a fakini ball, of it's own accord, slithered sensuously between and around his gnarled and club-like fingers.
Bill Palmer
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Rick:

I finally met Ray last month. He is exactly as you described him in your previous posts and e-mails, as well as this one.

What a nice, knowledgeable performer.
"The Swatter"

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My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

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themagicofjoseph
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You can try switching to a different area of magic. If you feel that your hands are going; try learning some mentalism, maybe an escape or two having them involved. Just a thought. I love my table-hopping and close-up has always been #1 for me as I like the interaction and the constant learning of unconfrontational presentation. I added mentalism and metal bending to my style about 3 years ago and it's not bad on the ole' hands seeing I hit 50 this year.
Magically,
Joseph
Bill Palmer
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That's an unfortunate conclusion to draw, really. The idea that mentalism requires less sleight of hand than other forms of magic shows a real lack of understanding of the art. For those techniques that require sleight of hand, such as the CT or B***** S*****, or even the P***, the techniques must be absolutely flawless. I got to watch Punx perform some of his work. You couldn't tell when he was doing anything out of the ordinary, because his movements were deliberate and slow. There was no change in his rhythm. It all looked perfectly natural.

Fifty isn't old, when it comes to this kind of thing. Punx was in his late 70's when I first met him. Age often lends credibility to mentalism.
"The Swatter"

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themagicofjoseph
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I think I come across wrong in the post Mr. Palmer. My reply was more for the many part-time magicians working in small town anywhere. Some of them, as myself, may have had a circumstance that may change their ability to preform as they have in the past and what I meant was not to overlook the variety of "types" of magic you may not have tried yet. Example of what happened to me.
I was a aircondition test tech for the new subway cars being built for NYC Transit. I tested an repaired these in upstate Ny. Supplying 3rd rail power to these for test. I received an electricution that almost killed me, thus leaving me with some short term memory loss and now do not have the ability to work with numbers, like in card effects, I forget them in seconds.
Yes I know that there are those well into their winter season of life that are still great preformers. These ideas above were meant as ideas, in case an event happens in life and you may think your magic preforming is over. I love my table-hopping jobs, been doing close up about 8 years along with other types on weekends. I know that if anything ever happened to my hands where I couldn't preform as normal, I know there are other effects that would put less strain on the hands, but still give a dynamite show.
Magically,
Joseph
Bill Palmer
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WOW! That must have been quite an experience!

There are a lot of performers who change over to less sleight intensive magic as they grow older. However, I would really recommend as therapy that you learn one sleight that really stretches your ability. Learn how to do a one-handed shuffle. I was about 40 years old when I learned it. I still do it almost a quarter of a century later. It took me about six months to learn, but it gave me a left hand that is much better than it had been before.

I got the instructions from Hugard's Magic Monthly. It keeps my fingers flexible and strong. Even Punx could do a one-handed shuffle when he was in his late 70's.

Practice over the bed. It's closer to your hands than the floor is!
"The Swatter"

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My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

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DStachowiak
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Quote:
On 2006-06-07 09:00, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
Quote:
On 2006-05-27 11:54, gerard1973 wrote:...Do we lose the ability to perform sleights, as we grow older?


Sol Stone is over 80 and doing fine.

Dai Vernon was almost 80 when we met in 87 and was doing fine.

Slydini was well over 60 when we met and was doing fine.


Hi Jonathan,
Actually I think D. V. was even older than you realized, he was born in 1894, so when you met him in '87, he was 93!
Al Cohen told me that in his 80s, Dai Vernon would protest that he was an old man and couldn't do much any more, had a bad thumb, his hands weren't flexible, etc., and then he would proceed to blow the doors off of everyone in the room.

On the other hand, he WAS Dai Vernon...
Others' mileage may vary
Woke up.
Fell out of bed.
Dragged a comb across m' head.
Bill Palmer
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I've done a lot of teaching. I still do a lot of learning! I've found that older students may take longer to teach, but they start regaining lost finger flexibility and dexterity with practice.

The last really difficult sleight I learned to do was the Downs Coin Star. I learned it from Bobby Bernard. It took me a couple of hours to get the basic principle down and six months to learn to do the move. This was complicated by the fact that, unbeknownst to me, I was developing the shakes from impending adult onset type II diabetes. I have the diabetes under control now, and I can still do the coin star.

I learned many of my moves while I was in my 40's and 50's. I have figured out how I normally move, and I use that knowledge to make my sleights look natural. That's one of the keys to the whole thing.

I also still play my musical instruments. Very little is as good for your dexterity as playing a musical instrument.
"The Swatter"

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My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
falcon
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I'm 50 years old and age has little to do with performing sleights. It has more to do with the position of your body. If you are in pain or unable to perform certain moves check out the book "Pain Free" by Pete Egoscue.
TheGiz
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I just turned 57, and my muscle pass is the highest it's ever been.
http://blackbeltmagician.com

"And it's a good thing I only use my power for good!!!"
mcharisse
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I must say, for someone like me, who just turned 50 a week ago, this could be a depressing thread this morning. So I agree with the optimists -- I'm finally mastering a coin roll after more than 40 years of dabbling in and out of magic. (Maybe 200 paid performances in all that time.)
I've always been a better actor than technician, but the few sleights I've always used with coins, thimbles, and billiard balls look smoother to me than they ever did. And I'm embarking on a program of manipulation to strengthen my arthritic hands, just like I go to the Y 4 or 5 times a week. These days, I have the maturity to understand I only need a few subterfuges, well done.
Overall, I think I'm a better magician today than I ever was - more comfortable in my own skin, maybe, and wiser to the ways of folks. Plus, these days my income lets me buy a few cooler toys.
I'll keep doing magic until I'm a doddering old fool at the old folks home, and then I'll work that character into a final magic act.
Bill Palmer
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I'm at a bluegrass convention as I write this. I was struck, yesterday in particular, by a parallel between good sleight of hand and good playing. Back in the 1960s, when I became interested in the music, there was very little written about the idiom. You really had to learn it either from recordings or by watching someone play -- or from a teacher. There were four of us in Houston who were busy "decoding" all of the records and sharing with one another. There were no DVDs. Consequently, we "earned" every note. We were serious about making it really musical.

Now, you can go out and buy hundreds of DVDs and thousands of books. But you can't buy the skill and soul in the music. Yesterday, I heard dozens of banjo and mandolin players who sounded like someone was taking a chainsaw to the instrument. But it didn't sound like music.

It sounded like a race between the banjo player and the mandolin player. Sometimes the banjo player "won", sometimes the mandolin player did.

The music lost.
"The Swatter"

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My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
ViciousCycle
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As I follow this thread, I think about the founder of aikido, Morihei Ueshiba. Aikido is a martial art that uses timing, misdirection, sleight of hand -- a form of magic. Smile Ueshiba was able to do impressive aikido when he was old and gray. Of course when one has an aging body, but one is dedicated to one's discipline, one learns to become very efficient. Any extraneous movement is eliminated. Any unnecessary strain is removed. You just do the essential technique needed to be effective.
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