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Reviewer EndersGame
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Beginners and amateurs often fall prey to the temptation of buying new tricks, more tricks, lusting after that one "killer" effect, and thinking that the next trick they will buy will be the holy grail that will bring them to the next level of success in magic. (Read the excellent analogy in this thread.) In reality, what's often needed instead is working on the presentation of the effects they already know. I was just reading the excellent chapter about "Presentation" in Hugard and Braue's Expert Card Technique and figured I would share a couple of paragraphs for the benefit of others new to magic. His comparison about two singers performing an old classic like Ave Maria is particularly to the point - with hard work, magicians can turn classic effects into modern-day masterpieces, because it's all about how it's presented. In short, I don't need to buy another trick. It's good advice, I think?

MASTERY OF the technique which makes his feats possible is an absolute essential to the card conjurer but it is not enough to make him a successful entertainer. Much as a jeweler mounts a diamond to bring out all the beauty of the stone, the conjurer must present his feats in the most entertaining manner of which he is capable. It is not enough merely to stand before an audience and do a card trick, no matter how great the technical expertness; the entertainer must employ all the tricks of the theatre to win for himself the approval of those present.

Unfortunately, there is no magic road to success unless it be hard work and bitter experience. But you are a magician and you love magic; and, lacking experience, you are floundering about in all directions and you are getting a little discouraged. You present magic, but not very well, and you don't know what is wrong. You tell yourself that what you need is a new trick, something very new and amazing and impossible; but when you get this trick you are just where you were before and you decide that what you need is another new trick, also very amazing and impossible. And you don't know what is wrong.

It is to you that these words are addressed, and not to those others who have already learned from experience that which we hope to say here. We want to tell you about some very fine magicians, and what they did, and why they became famous. They became famous because they knew how to present magic...

The reader is urged to study and to experiment with the old tricks which have proven themselves unfailingly welcome to audiences for decades. ... By taking such old-time tricks and infusing them with his own personality, each individual performer will have, to all intents and purposes, a new trick, exactly as Nelson Eddy and John McCormack, both singing Ave Maria, actually sing two different songs since the mood they create by their differing techniques is wholly dissimilar. It is safe to say that any of the old masterpieces, capably performed, will be accepted warmly by any modem audience.

But the old axiom, that it is not what you do but the manner in which you do it, still remains operative. ... The neophyte in card magic has one overwhelming desire, one insatiable penchant, and that is to do something new. Those new to card conjuring would do well if, instead of attempting to learn a great number of tricks, they would instead concentrate upon a few good tricks and master them so that their technique and their presentation is so excellent that those who see them will want to see them again. One of the reasons that card tricks are sometimes looked upon with disfavor is that the beginner, attempting a trick which he cannot do well, bores and exasperates those upon whom he inflicts his unrehearsed trickeries. The professional card expert, who must please his audiences if he is to survive, never attempts always to be performing new tricks.
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The Jersey Shore
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Profile of sethb
Somebody (David Devant?) said that a professional is someone who always does the same tricks for different audiences; an amateur always does different tricks for the same audiences.

The problem for most amateurs is the very small universe of performing venues. After you exhaust your girlfriend or spouse, your friends, your co-workers and their friends, it's very tough to find new audiences to perform for. The days when you could hop on a vaudeville circuit and perform in 300 theaters a year without duplicating a location are long gone. Michael Ammar discusses this problem in his book, "The Magic of Michael Ammar," and provides his solution, which was the "nursing home" circuit. Busking is another possibility, as are public libraries. But it is a very real problem.

And I agree that another part of the answer is to be good with a dozen tricks, rather than simply mediocre with 100 tricks. SETH
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
Dave V
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Las Vegas, NV
4824 Posts

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One thing you do need, though, is some amount of "depth." That comes with the "hard work and experience" that Devant spoke about. If you know quite well only three or four tricks (or whatever number you need to do a show), and only one method for each and something happens to upset the balance, either a repeat customer, heckler, or other distraction, it's this depth of knowledge that pulls you out of the hole you dug for yourself. Not only do you have to know your stuff, but just as importantly, you have to know how to recover gracefully.

When I buy a trick, I don't start with just one. I collect all versions I can reasonably afford. (I admit, what I lack in my own creativity, I have to make up for in adaptation and a deep checkbook.) Something as simple as the "10 Card Poker Deal" has cost me two years of digging and a few hundred dollars in manuscripts, books, and videos as I pick and choose a "set order" that works best for me. If something comes along to break the rhythm (cards get mixed, spectator jumps in: "Hey, *I* want to deal," "Let me shuffle," etc...), I have enough alternate presentations to switch one in without breaking stride.

I agree with sethb that it's better to be good at a dozen tricks than simply adequate with a hundred, but on the other hand, a dozen tricks doesn't mean a dozen purchases. It could very well be a dozen purchases for each trick studied before it's ready to perform.

The dancer Anna Pavlova said it best in one line, and it applies here just as much as it did for her. You can read it in my sig line.
No trees were killed in the making of this message, but a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.
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Profile of jimhlou
It depends on what you're thinking of buying. I love buying magic, it's like watching the home shopping network. I've wasted a lot of money, but I love tearing open that new package with my "new" miracle effect.

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133 Posts

Profile of Sk8erBoi9305
All of this is so true, and I wish I knew it a year or two ago before I blew all my money on this week's latest effect from Ellusionist. Ellusionist thrives on the fact that new magicians always want bigger and better effects. It's kinda annoying if you ask me...
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Profile of marty.sasaki
Ray Goulet has been giving a card clinic before the IBM Ring 122 meeting. He has done a lot of things from Expert Card Technique, which fooled everyone in the room, including many folks who have the book in their libraries. So, you don't need that latest trick to entertain.

I have to admit that I like toys and have had to restrain myself from just buying and buying.
Marty Sasaki
Arlington, Massachusetts, USA

Standard disclaimer: I'm just a hobbyist who enjoys occasionally mystifying friends and family, so my opinions should be viewed with this in mind.
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Reviewer EndersGame
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Profile of EndersGame
I guess it's like any hobby - there can be a temptation to buy and buy just for the sake of getting "newness". My other hobbies include board-games and an extreme sport, and I see very similar comments on forums dedicated to those interests. Perhaps some of you have other hobbies and have experienced the same with them - maybe it's a trait of human nature!

With respect to magic, I made a decision to focus on improving my presentation and showmanship rather than buying new tricks and the latest effects, so I have ordered Strong Magic by Darwin Ortiz, figuring I'll get more mileage and benefit from that. I already have the essential resources I need to learn many effects (Mark Wilson's Complete Course, Scarne on Cards, Royal Road to Card Magic, and a few videos), along with the necessary props (magic is cheap really: a few decks of cards, invisible thread and magician's wax, coins and bills). If I'm really honest with myself, I'll probably make more progress and improve on my overall ability to perform magic by working on my presentation at this point rather than just purchasing and adding another trick to my closet.

Having said that, I do appreciate Seth's comment that amateurs (myself included) tend to perform different tricks for the same audience of family and friends, unlike professionals who can perform the same tricks for different audiences every night. Having the same regular audience does make it necessary to come up with new effects from time to time, and it is easier to exhaust your repertoire and be looking for new material. But if I'm honest, I'm a long way from exhausting the material provided by resources like Mark Wilson and Royal Road, so I should have enough to keep me going for a long time without needing to buy another trick.
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Profile of caligari
It is always fun to get our hands on new things, just human nature I guess.Smile

Lately, though, I have found myself going back to older tricks and thinking of ways to make them suit the way I perform magic. In that sense, the old tricks feel new to me.

It's kinda like the feeling you get when you are finally able to execute a sleight flawlessly and begin to explore the possibilities with that new skill. Smile

I also think that most of us, if not all, have that big closet full of magic tricks we never used more than once. Smile It's a lot of fun after all!
Bob Sanders
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Grammar Supervisor
Magic Valley Ranch, Clanton, Alabama
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Finding the "Trick" to magic is a matter of finding what you do well magically.

On the other hand, we all love auctions and swap meets where we trade our last bad idea for someone else's. (Yep, it's an addiction!)


Bob Sanders
Magic By Sander
Bob Sanders

Magic By Sander / The Amazed Wiz
Andy the cardician
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A street named after my dad
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I think the thread below has some great points on this subject.
Cards never lie
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Reviewer EndersGame
2163 Posts

Profile of EndersGame
On 2008-03-09 23:51, Andy the cardician wrote:
I think the thread below has some great points on this subject.

I agree completely. That's why I referenced it in my initial post Smile
For all beginners out there is a very useful thread, and merits becoming a "sticky" in this forum - apparently I'm not the only one who thinks that.
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Profile of Vegasvent
Always the problem of wanting too many "Toys".
Magical Phil-Kidzshow, LLC

"My Wife says that either all of my Stuff goes, or she does......" "Boy, I'm sure gonna miss her cookin'."
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762 Posts

Profile of rockwall
In principle, I strongly agree with your initial post. I know that I spend way too much money and time searching for new tricks to purchase. It's not so much that I'm looking for that great trick that will help me be 'magical', it's more just my interest in learning as much about magic as possible.

Now, on the other side of the coin, because of the breadth and depth of tricks I've purchased, I've found some that I felt suited me well, were not difficult to learn, and have created wonder in those I've performed them for. This has given me the enthusiasm to spend even more time mastering more difficult tricks. I don't think I would have had near as much fun and excitement if I had simply stopped at my first DVD purchase and worked at only mastering those few tricks that were on that DVD.

Having said that, it's past time that I quit buying and focus on practice!!!! I'm setting a goal to pick one trick at a time and work on that trick until I've got it down and feel comfortable performing it before moving onto a new trick.

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Dallas, TX
469 Posts

Profile of NurseRob
I say buy a new trick. every week. It will keep you from having money to buy stupid stuff like a bass boat, or a harley, and will definitely keep a plasma screen from coming into your house too. just MHO
Ut imago est animi voltus sic indices oculi ~
The face is a picture of the mind as the eyes are its interpreter ~Cicero
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