The Magic Café
[ Lost Password ]
  [ Forgot Username ]
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » A course in mentalism (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

View Profile
Special user
533 Posts

Profile of Slide
Lately, as I look out on my sea of mentalism books, I've been plotting a course of study. I don't mean picking up Corinda and going through the 13 steps. But there is so much to learn, and only so much time that I'm trying to figure out where to start on a comprehensive study. For instance, should I start with Mnemonics? This would be a great base for many effects including Knights Journey, Pseudo Psychometry, and other pieces that are not specifically mnemonics but work better if you understand mnemonics.

Or should I make a complete study of the center tear and billet switches first? How about Cold Reading techniques: wouldn't it be better to build on a solid base of reading people.

So what do others think. What is the ultimate curriculum for mentalism? If those of you who are experienced had to start over, what would you study first?
Michael Peterson
View Profile
Inner circle
is where I'm trapped, because of my
4071 Posts

Profile of Michael Peterson
I'm in the same boat, I 'm just trying to learn things that I think I will use. There is alot of great stuff in all my books on the subject, I'm trying to decide what really suits me & works.

I read & re-read & then I read them again until I find things that I can picture myself doing.

Maybe I should go back to trying to master card manipulation, I think that would be easier Smile

Rick Maue
View Profile
Pittsburgh, PA
584 Posts

Profile of Rick Maue
Greetings Bill,

I find your questions very tough to answer, but yet they are extremely intriguing. The reason I say that, is because, as with many things in magic or mentalism, there is no correct answer, although I believe there are a number of incorrect ones.

I will warn you, my ramblings will not answer your questions directly in regard to the ultimate curriculum for mentalism. However, they will address how I started, and also what I still do to this day when I create theatrical deception of any kind. And if I read between the lines of your post, I think that is certainly a portion of what you are asking.

I certainly would say to read and absorb all that you can, but be true to what you wish to create, not what all others do. In your post you asked about mnemonics, center tears, billet switches, and cold reading techniques. Each one of these is extremely valid, and yet after more than two decades of creating and performing mentalism, I barely use any of the four. They simply are not the tools that I have found to be the most effective for me personally.

That may sound insane to most, but I have found over the years that I am more successful when I take the time to create an effect without concerning myself with the method. Only after I have scripted the entire thing, and truly decided what I wish to accomplish, do I begin to devise a method. It usually happens that I come up with a number of solutions, and at that point, I work to find which one fits the best.

Many times the solution will be a time-tested method from any number of mentalism sources. But many other times, it is not. For me, the key is that, I almost never try to create by selecting my tools first. Instead, I create the image of what I am trying to accomplish, and then I gather the tools that I need to bring the project to life.

In other words, if a magician or mentalist learns a new sleight or technique, they are usually very tempted to design an effect in which they can use it. To me, that is like an artist deciding what to paint based on what colors he has on his palette.

So to give you my convoluted answer to your original questions, gather as many valuable works on our art form as you can, and then use them as reference books. Constantly be working to become more familiar with tools of the trade so that you can utilize any number of them effectively. But let your imagination guide you, not the techniques.

As I stated earlier, I realize that I have not addressed your questions directly. However, I hope that my thoughts addressed some of the underlying theme of your post.

Keep the change,
Rick Maue
Deceptions Unlimited
Check out what is happening at Deceptions Unlimited
View Profile
Inner circle
Milford Haven. Pembrokeshire wales U.K.
2642 Posts

Profile of p.b.jones
I agree with Rick here, even with magic I decide what effects I want to perform then
learn/invent the requred moves/techniques for performing them, for me, most of the books refered to as Classics are reference books for slights and methods that I draw on as required. Not as many preach to be worked through learning everything in the book.
You would simply learn so much stuff that you would never use (you will do enough of that anyway)

Michelle Labonte
View Profile
New user
35 Posts

Profile of Michelle Labonte
I more or less agree with whats been said, but to give you a more direct response to your question, I would have to say that Water's Mind Myth & Magic is the very best book to learn from. While it does teach some very powerful effects, it teaches some things far more useful (ex. The importance of originality, Ethics, Presentation)

Mind you, this is my OPINION.
"Mentalism is easy to do. . .badly" -Max Maven
View Profile
Loyal user
283 Posts

Profile of magiker
First welcome to both Rick and Michelle.

It´s good to see Rick as a member. He has some great books and videos about bizarre magic.

I read as much as I can with no set subject often passing over things that I later go back to that end up being perfect for me.

I don´t think it´s that easy to study one specific section first. My personal opinion is that I in particular would get too bogged down and then miss out on some really good stuff.
Just my thoughts.

Believe in the possibility of the impossible
Michael Peterson
View Profile
Inner circle
is where I'm trapped, because of my
4071 Posts

Profile of Michael Peterson
I totally agree with Magiker, I read the same things over & over until something jumps out at me.

For example, I have been reading Mind Myth & magic over & over & have just recently started trying some of the material
(Albertest is great!).

Scott F. Guinn
View Profile
Inner circle
"Great Scott!" aka "Palms of Putty" & "Poof Daddy G"
6586 Posts

Profile of Scott F. Guinn
While I agree for the most part with what has been advised above, I think there's something to be said for learning the basic principles of mentalism first, then going and finding the effects that you like. This is akin to learning basic sleight-of-hand: once you know the underlying principles and methods, you can create your own effects. Or like learning the scales and how to read music as opposed to trying to just play by ear. It's not absolutely essential, but it does make everything much easier down the road!
"Love God, laugh more, spend more time with the ones you love, play with children, do good to those in need, and eat more ice cream. There is more to life than magic tricks." - Scott F. Guinn
My Lybrary Page
View Profile
Inner circle
Milford Haven. Pembrokeshire wales U.K.
2642 Posts

Profile of p.b.jones
just wanted to note that I said that you did not have to LEARN everything in the book.
not that you did not have to read (and indeed re read) the whole book.
View Profile
Special user
955 Posts

Profile of espmagic
Here's my (bent) two cents - study it all!
I am sure that you have purchased many effects that were never performed; yet, you may have learned things from the instructions that you adapted into other items later on. Mentalism is the same: you will start by learning "the basics" - billet switches, center tears, clipboarding, etc. - and you will learn that there are MANY versions of each technique (much like the various methods of a double lift). Only after you have used them (and dare I say, mastered them) can you honestly determine whether you should discard them, in favor of other "techiques". Where to start? Just jump in - hopefully on something that intrigues you! Then, work, work, work... and, depending on your choice(s), there are many great authors: Waters, Busch, Webster, Goldstein, Maue, Lesley, Corinda, Annemann, Dunninger, and so on...
View Profile
Inner circle
1448 Posts

Profile of Dr. TORA
Dear Friends, to be honest, I agree with all the above. Yes, You may want to check everything, but, should master only the ones you will use.
In my opinion, I would recommend an additional way to go with: do not only stick in the books. Please also do check with the videos. For example Max Maven's Videomind Series and Guy Bavli's video series are quite usefull to master. Of course these are only the examples, there are a lot of good books as well.

magical regards.
Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile
Magically Yours,


Have you visited my new Website in English, yet? or
View Profile
Inner circle
A good lecturer at your service!
4397 Posts

Profile of Paul
Books like 13 Steps are reference books. There are good effects one can do in there, given as examples of the various methods/tools of our trade. I doubt even the top mentalists have mastered them all (certainly Corinda hadn't he was just recording them!).

It is a showcase of what is available for our use, from which we pick and choose as required. To truly master just one of the techniques would serve us very well indeed.

As a reference book, it is not meant to simply be read once. It should be taken off the shelf and dipped into regularly.

So there is no set starting point, though if there was, it certainly wouldn't be cold reading. That I don't consider mentalism, but rather an additional tool that can be incorporated into or wrapped around your presentations. No doubt others will disagree.

Paul Hallas
View Profile
New user
Virginia Beach
15 Posts

Profile of humormagi
Great question and good replies from those here.

One major point is to find out WHO you are and the personna you are going to use to perform as. This will give you a jumping off point. It will then be easier to select material and from there expand and personalize.

I started doing mentalism a few years ago and worked it in slowly with mixed success. This past May, I left New York State and moved to Virginia. I was lucky because one of the first people I met was the man who first did the Seances at the Magic Castle. His input and knowledge has given me an entirely different cast on the art and how one goes about the performance. First and foremost... only do what fits you because if it goes against your personality you have a very confused audience that cannot concentrate on what you are doing because it won't work in their minds. Stay congruent to you.

jack Shea Smile
View Profile
Special user
533 Posts

Profile of Slide
Thanks to everyone for contributing to this thread. Great advice.

View Profile
New user
Milano (Italy)
66 Posts

Profile of mambra
Hi all.

Interesting topic, as I am trying to go into mentalism after years of "normal" magic, sometime funny. What a change!

Still, if NOW I want to set up a new piece of performance in general magic, I would have no problem in starting on what I want to get, and then trying to find out the method(s). Then a trial, front of spectators...collecting know!

But in a NEW field as mentalism is to ME...this is VERY different and much more difficult!

So, I am trying to use routine devised from more expert performers (with their permission, of course) in order to see whether they fit on me, and trying to see if there is any change to the routine not in order to improve it, but to make it fitting better.

When I will be an expert (if ever) I will also be able to "invent" presentation and/or methods.

The same applies, in my opinion, to videos. For someone who already is "formed" as mentalist, a video is good. But someone who is new, has the risk to take it and copy. this case...where is your personality?

Thus...what I may suggest is: go and ask to a friend mentalist!!! He knows you and can give advices on what you have better to start with. I did it, and it seems it works.



PS: always guilty for my broken English
View Profile
New user
2 Posts

Profile of mastercoach
Maybe the power question is how does a mentalist differ from magician? A course in mentalism would first begin with the basic concept of the actor and performance skills.

Some of the most powerful effects in mentalism are boring to magi (simple) and mind altering for the lay participant.
View Profile
Special user
916 Posts

Profile of mindshrink
Ultimately it boils down to...get the main reference books..Corrinda/Annemann them a couple of times(I have re-read my books over 10-12 times,u see I don't have too many books on mentalism)...every time I find a new angle that had not registered before.SELECT a FEW based on simplicity and ease of performance/technique. Mix and match...!
Then get down to acting classes or get a director.
View Profile
Eternal Order
18815 Posts

Profile of IAIN
I would say, learn the techniques, not worry too much about other's effects as such..if you learn a couple of billet switches, a tear or two, swami work, ideomotor, mr. maue's imagine (amongst others) and some different types of forces and so on..then, its up to you, dependant on you character and displayable skill set on what the effects will be..

PMM and 13 steps just gives you so much food for thought, that the world is your oyster after that...i'll recommend a few books from my experience:

lewis jone's encyclopedia of forces (like annemanns 202 but hugely built upon)
Mentalists toolkit
jon rigg's PW dvd (in fact any of his work)
nardi and spellman's Unexpected dvd - just so you can see some old favourites and a few new twists on some easy to do stuff..lets you concentrate on the performance more..

something like that anyway, but basically, learn techniques and methods, rather than learning one single effect, then have fun coming up with your own stuff..
I've asked to be banned
View Profile
Inner circle
1186 Posts

Profile of mesmer
First.....Why don't you decide WHAT IS YOU GOAL???
why don't you ask yourself...WHAT DO I WANT TO ACCOMPLISH HERE???

before you start learning Mnemonic,Peek, Billet Switching, Metal Bnding,etc...etc...
otherwise, your effort is just going to waste more of your precious time, and you will be THE JACK OF ALL TRADE

if you go to a Shopping Mall for a bag of Apple...are you going to browse each aisle?....or you going to visit each floor by floor.....or are you going directly to the fruit sections? (After you see the Shopping Mall Directory of course)

that is of course after you know what you want in the first place?...wich is A BAG OF again....what is your Goal(s)?

John Nesbit
View Profile
Inner circle
United States
1421 Posts

Profile of John Nesbit
On 2007-08-25 08:56, mindshrink wrote:
Ultimately it boils down to...get the main reference books..Corrinda/Annemann them a couple of times(I have re-read my books over 10-12 times,u see I don't have too many books on mentalism)...every time I find a new angle that had not registered before.SELECT a FEW based on simplicity and ease of performance/technique. Mix and match...!
Then get down to acting classes or get a director.

Please excuse me for saying so. But I have read 6 posts by this person (this morning alone), similar to the one quoted above. All have been culled from threads not posted on for at least 5 years. For what purpose ? The statements therein are presumptuous at best and very condescending. All from a new member.
So what is your point, (that we haven't seen on here a hundred times already) ? Who are you ?
It has been stated in the past that doing this kind of posting with much older threads causes problems with the database. What's up with your "attitude" ?
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » A course in mentalism (0 Likes)
[ Top of Page ]
All content & postings Copyright © 2001-2022 Steve Brooks. All Rights Reserved.
This page was created in 0.17 seconds requiring 5 database queries.
The views and comments expressed on The Magic Café
are not necessarily those of The Magic Café, Steve Brooks, or Steve Brooks Magic.
> Privacy Statement <

ROTFL Billions and billions served! ROTFL