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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » New to magic? » » From Good to Amazing (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

PirateJohn
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Anaheim, CA
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You've started learning magic. You've bought some magic books, videos, and a deck of cards. You've practiced and practiced. You have all the sleights down. You have your patter perfect. You now perform your miracle in front of friends, and their reply:

"That's pretty good. Hey, have you seen what movies are playing tonight?"

Argh....

You can't understand. You practiced and practiced and had everything perfect. Why weren't your friends amazed? Why didn't their jaws form shock waves as they hit the floor?

Here are my ideas of how to get from good to amazing -- turning a magic trick into a miracle. And, of course, I'd love to hear what others have to say so I can learn how to do the same!

1) Your instrument. You have to work on your communication. Even silent acts involve body language. Think about someone who tells a joke poorly -- they seem not to understand where they're going, and they use a lot of "ums" and "ahs" that are distracting. How clear and interesting is your communication? Are you saying or doing things that are unnecessary and steer the focus away from what is really happening? Are you trying jokes that just aren't that funny?

A good way to improve this is with some acting workshops. Learning to act will help you improve not only your communication but will help you develop a character as well. There are lots of inexpensive community theater workshops in most areas that you can sign up for.

And let's not forget, getting involved in community plays gives you whole new audiences to perform for, and it's an audience who may have some performing experience and can give good advice.

2) Practice doesn't make perfect. Practice makes permanent, not perfect. There are times when you think you are learning how to do something just right, and you've been practicing it dead wrong the whole time. We've all been there.

Practicing solo has its plusses, but there is no substitute for finding a mentor who can coach you in how to practice, so you don't end up wasting countless hours practicing something the wrong way.

3. Method is meaningless. What is important is not how a trick is done, but the impression that is left in the minds of the audience. A lot of performers spend so much time practicing the mechanics of a trick (not a bad thing, mind) that they completely forget that the mechanics are completely invisible to the audience.

This goes back to learning how to create a character -- never forget that when practicing the mechanics that you must also create a story to tell to the audience. I've seen very old, hackneyed tricks turned into beautiful illusions just by the story that is told by it. Jeff McBride is a great one to watch to see this sort of thing in action.
mrunge
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Charleston, SC
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Uuuggghhhh!!! Don't you hate it when that happens?

Great thoughts and ideas shared John. Good things to think about and keep in mind.

Mark.
The Amazing Noobini
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Oslo, Norway
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Great post!

I think that a lot of other beginners, like me will not be able to control all of these aspects at the same time because the situation of performing is so new and overwhelming that even though you are conscious of your body movements and so on, the actual performance situation is all just so stressful and confusing and full of unexpected random factors that your rehearsed act simply doesn't work straight out of the box.

I feel that I am almost absurdly well prepared and yet I haven't yet performed a single magic trick to anyone without completely screwing it up. Ever. And I have very clear thoughts on why and how I do everything I do.

So what I want to say is that time is a factor. It takes as long as it takes. I think all the theory and planning in the world will only work after you have done it in real life so many times that you forget the theory behind it and just operate on instinct.

Actually, all art forms are like that. You need to learn the theory really well and then forget it in order to perform. Otherwise you're simply playing scales.
"Talk about melodrama... and being born in the wrong part of the world." (Raf Robert)
"You, my friend, have a lot to learn." (S. Youell)
"Nonsensical Raving of a lunatic mind..." (Larry)
Jay Austin
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This is one reason that I have gotten on sort of a theory kick lately. You can be the best magician technically, but if you are not good at preforming then you are not going to get much attention. Designing Miracles by Darwin Ortiz gives great insight on why an effect gets a reaction from an audience and should be required reading for anyone looking to strengthen audience reactions.
Jay Austin

http://austin-computer-solutions.com/
Hire a tech, not a geek.
scaevola
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Thanks for the tips! I have been a little frustrated with my impact. I am trying to leave more of an impression.
The Amazing Noobini
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Oslo, Norway
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I've just about finished reading Designing Miracles myself. However, understanding these things and being in full control of them under conditions less ideal than at home in front of a mirror, are two very separate things.

BTW... Many people react to impressive baffling magic tricks with complete silence. This is normal. I did so myself recently while witnessing a coin vanish. I gave no feedback whatsoever. The guy obviously felt a little disappointed. Then I went home and thought WOW!
"Talk about melodrama... and being born in the wrong part of the world." (Raf Robert)
"You, my friend, have a lot to learn." (S. Youell)
"Nonsensical Raving of a lunatic mind..." (Larry)
scaevola
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Yeah. If you are performing and want applause you have to cue it somehow. otherwise they might sit there in stunned silence.
Jay Austin
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I don't like asking for applause. There have been many times where I have seen a magician ask for applause and the routine that they just did was only mediocre and did not deserve much reaction. If someone wants to applaud you that is there choice. It should not be brought on out of sympathy. I know there are many that disagree with this line of thinking. I would rather get an honest reaction from my audience than one that is artificial.
Jay Austin

http://austin-computer-solutions.com/
Hire a tech, not a geek.
PirateJohn
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Anaheim, CA
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Quote:
On 2007-10-16 22:41, Jay Austin wrote:
I don't like asking for applause. There have been many times where I have seen a magician ask for applause and the routine that they just did was only mediocre and did not deserve much reaction. If someone wants to applaud you that is there choice.


I agree with you for the most part, but I did happen to see one performer who made it a very integral part of his act, and for some reason it worked quite well for him. He performed with the stage name of "Sado the Masochist" and he made a character who was, if you'll believe it, arrogant as hell in a charming, amusing way.

Instead of asking the audience to applaud, he'd pause after the climax and, in a commanding tone, would say "Cheer me!" We didn't know whether to applaud or laugh hysterically.

It was among the most entertaining close-up acts I've ever seen.
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