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daffydoug
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Quote:
On 2008-03-11 23:12, mmreed wrote:
Any tips or advice for those starting out in magic - say with coins or cards, and practicing the sleights and moves, only to find themselves messy, uncoordinated, and finding themselves being plain obvious in motions?

For example, messy double lifts, awkward palming, continually exposing the moves, etc...

I know the core answer is practice more till it goes away... but my question to the community is more of how to handle the aggravation and frustration of "not being able to do it yet" and the disappointment that slowly builds as you try to become better to find yourself not progressing as you think and fell you should.

We have all been there - bought a new DVD, watched it, tried it, shook your head at how messed up you were... kept doing it, only to put it aside with the intent to proactice it more later - only to never come back to it again...

what advice and ideas to keep people "on the path..."?

I'm sure there is a wealth of learning and practice advice out there among the community....as well as motivation and mental reinforcement ideas to keep us in the right state of mind.

Lets discuss!


I think a key is to keep your inspiration up. Who inspired you to start?

Don't put away your videos of that person's performance. Don't let them gather dust. Watch them often. When you find yourself frustrated, go back to your inspiration, get RE-fired up, and have another go at it.
Honestly, this works wonders when you just feel like quitting. Motivation, the spark that fires you onward absolutely MUST be renewed regularly.

Even the pros can get frustrated at times. The only difference is that they have mastered the art of staying motivated.
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
daffydoug
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Quote:
On 2008-03-21 03:17, Tina I wrote:
Although I have been doing magic to and from for years and years I hardly ever did any cards. But fairly recently, I use the term loosely, I started to grow more and more interested in cards and quickly found out that it was hard! Very hard! As I started to practice I noticed that I couldn't do anything consistently. It was obvious when I did a 'move', I held the deck differently when doing sleights etc etc.

So my first real training had actually to start with simply holding the deck in the 'mechanics' grip. I did that, just held it... felt what it was like, getting used to it for hours on end every evening while watching TV or whatever. Now that is starting with the basics! It payed off ten folds though the first time I could do a DL that looked exactly like when I do a single.


I used to do a similar thing when I was learning to palm coins. (many, many moons ago!) I would actually walk around during my daily business with coins secretly thumb palmed all day. I would talk and gesture to people as I normally do, only I had a coin ready for business. After while, it began to feel quite comfortable, and natural.
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
NurseRob
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I carry 4 kennedy halves, 2 palmed in each hand whenever my hands are idle at work, I got a decent classic palm as a result, my trouble is moving them in and out of palms to other grips. Back palming is just way to hard for me.
Ut imago est animi voltus sic indices oculi ~
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clarissa35f
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If I can add anything to the above is, Find 3 simple to perform effects that you enjoy, and just practice the sleights it takes to perform those three effects at first. This gives you focused practice and you learn those sleights faster, than if you tried to learn a dozen effects in the beginning. This is from Card College Vol 1. Also when you can perform those effects you will gain the confidence to learn more.

What I recommend is Michael Ammar's "Easy to master Card Miracles" series, if you like cards, and David Roth Expert Coin Magic Made easy series, or David Stone. Michael Ammar also has " Introduction to Coin magic." I think, although I do not personally own it, I can recommend Michael Ammar whole heartedly. Also pick up a copy of Royal Road to Card Magic by Jean Hugard and Frederick Braue, and J.B. Bobo Modern Coin Magic. The books should be relatively inexpensive.

Michael Ammar was my first teacher, and my inspiration. He teaches hard Hitting card magic, that is easy to perform...start with Volume 1, he teaches sleights slow and easy. Basically he teaches you effects, and uses that as a way to teach you sleights. Pick 3 tricks that you enjoy. And just learn those. Sometimes I will just put on the old tapes to watch him perform, and this inspires me to continue learning, even if what I am trying to learn is from someone else. He reminds me of the fun I had when I learned my first DL, or Elmsley.

Take breaks from learning if you feel frustrated. Not just breaks during the day. But from time to time, take a few days off, to do other things. Then go back to it. Only practice as long as it is fun for you. The moment it starts to become a chore, put the deck down. There will come times when you sense no improvement. Do not let this frustrate you, it is part of the learning process. You will swear you have been practicing that move for weeks with zero improvement, maybe even months... then suddenly Bam... it just clicks. you will experience Plateaus, when you feel you are just not progressing.

Lastly, if at some point you just feel too challenged by something you are trying to learn it is a sign you may not be ready to move forward. Do not ignore these mental cues. Take a step back to simpler material. Bone up on fundamentals... your mind is telling you something you think you have perfect is a little weak...something you need to understand to the core, still needs to be absorbed. Better to take a step back, and get a better foothold... so you can take 3 or 4 steps forward, without missing a step...if I can borrow a mountain climbing analogy... and always remember...keep it fun.. Smile

Quote:
Anf I also noticed my hands began to move smoother and more magician-like (if that makes any sense) So rest assured, it will come.


I know exactly what you mean. I find Myself when I speak that I gesture a lot, and My hand sopen and close unconsiously, as Jeff McBride's does.
“Amateurs practice until they get it right.
Professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong.” <Anonymous>
"There is no such thing as magic, there is no other way that could have been done" <Whit Haydn>
dragee
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The way I practice difficult sleight is to keep on doing and doing until I feel tired.Then I will go into other sleight. If you pratice hard enough you will get it someday.The only thing that doesn't betray you is pratice itself. Of course,taking a break is also important.It feels very good when suddenly you can perform that sleight which you have problem a few days/weeks earlier.
clarissa35f
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Quote:
On 2008-03-21 03:17, Tina I wrote:
Although I have been doing magic to and from for years and years I hardly ever did any cards. But fairly recently, I use the term loosely, I started to grow more and more interested in cards and quickly found out that it was hard! Very hard! As I started to practice I noticed that I couldn't do anything consistently. It was obvious when I did a 'move', I held the deck differently when doing sleights etc etc.

So my first real training had actually to start with simply holding the deck in the 'mechanics' grip. I did that, just held it... felt what it was like, getting used to it for hours on end every evening while watching TV or whatever. Now that is starting with the basics! It payed off ten folds though the first time I could do a DL that looked exactly like when I do a single.


I cannot recommend Card College enough. Look into getting the 5 volume set. But tackle it one volume at a time, since that is How Roberto Giobbi planned the material. it's not so much a book on sleights, as much as a Course in Card Sleight-of-hand. Also pick up The Royal Road to Card Magic by Jean Hugard and Frederick Braue'.

Giobbi actually starts his course on what you mentioned. The Proper mechanics Grip. He includes plenty of hand drawn illustrations telling you exactly where to put each finger, and why it is there. He builds a foundation upon which he lays the sleights you need to learn little by little. He also includes 2 maps of your hand,...and the deck of cards... so when you see someone say.." Grasp the deck so the third phalange of the forefinger rests on the outer left edge of the deck" you know EXACTLY what they are explaining.

Also a good resource you may want to look up..." Michael Ammar Easy to master Card Miracles." Anyway...keep us abreast Smile
“Amateurs practice until they get it right.
Professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong.” <Anonymous>
"There is no such thing as magic, there is no other way that could have been done" <Whit Haydn>
mcmc
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Great advice, all.

I especially concur with Noobini's suggestion to practice while distracted - though I began my study of magic at 8, when I began to get into the more serious stuff, I had a deck of cards in my hand all the time. I don't know that I motivated myself to do this, so much as - I really, really, enjoyed playing with cards! It felt cathartic, exciting, fun, reassuring =)

From there, it was not a hard leap to then get a feel for how to handle the cards, half the cards; moving on to the Charlier and one-handed-swivel cut, to top palming, and so on; the groundwork of tactile familiarity with the cards (feel, size, weight of a deck), made learning how to do manipulations, fans/shuffles/flourishes, and other sleights, much easier.

When I began to study specific sleights required for particular effects, I would intensely study it, read the explanations in Hugard/Erdnase/Hugard+Braue, etc., over and over again - and sometimes I would get it on the first pass through, sometimes I would get stumped and have to return to it a day or a week later - but do not underestimate the power of 'latent learning,' which happens with both expositional mental knowledge, as well as dexterity and muscle memory. I.e., even while you're not 'actively' working on that sleight, somehow the brain is continuing to work at it, re-figuring your neural connections, in the background - so that the next time you attack the problem, you find that it has suddenly become easier, or at least not as hard.

Another thing, is that while I am a staunch proponent of following the masters' descriptions, people's hands vary quite a bit, and if a slight derivative of the master's recommendation in the book, feels better and produces better results, don't feel shy about going for it - but only after you've tried the recommended way first.

Good luck! I think it really boils down to, do you love cards and card magic - then there will really be very few barriers that will stump you. If not - if there's another motivation, such as forcing yourself to do it for an act for a paying gig, or for the secondary benefits of doing well at card magic ('popularity,' or whatever!), then it becomes much harder...
jgoldsney
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The best thing that I ever did to improve was to perform even if only for my wife.


I find it does 3 things....

1) Points out the little areas that you need to work on that you may have allowed yourself to ignore

2) It teaches you how to deal with nerves....I had the bill switch folds down cold but the first time I did it in front of people my hands were shaking like a leaf.

3) Finaly it also provides positive feedback, even though my hands were shaking and I thought that there was no way I would ever pull it off without dropping something things still went great and everyone was floored.

Picking a simple trick and performing it has been the best practice I have ever had
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jgoldsney
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The best thing that I ever did to improve was to perform even if only for my wife.


I find it does 3 things....

1) Points out the little areas that you need to work on that you may have allowed yourself to ignore

2) It teaches you how to deal with nerves....I had the bill switch folds down cold but the first time I did it in front of people my hands were shaking like a leaf.

3) Finaly it also provides positive feedback, even though my hands were shaking and I thought that there was no way I would ever pull it off without dropping something things still went great and everyone was floored.

Picking a simple trick and performing it has been the best practice I have ever had
-----------------------

There are 10 types of people in the world...Those who understand Binary and those who don't Smile
Pi
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There is so much incredible advice in these forums it's amazing.
As a novice myself, I have very little frustration so far. I've got one of those personalities that latches on to something and doesn't let go.
But that doesn't mean I "never" feel stuck or irritated. My advice would be to keep it fun while taking it seriously at the same time. Don't try to learn too much too fast as well. I have RRTCM book and (recently) DVDs, it feels like a lifetime worth of info just right there!

My wife is enjoying finding cards all over the house now as well!
"Pi is not just a collection of random digits. Pi is a journey; an experience; unless you try to see the natural poetry that exists in pi, you will find it very difficult to learn" - Antranig Basman
chias
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There are some pretty good advice around here, and I thank everyone for it.

For now, I focus on each sleight-of-hand technique and try to master it first before continuing to the other.

Also I figure it's important to view magic as something fun, something entertaining. Then no amount of practice will be seen as irritating or frustrating.


Just my 0.2 cents.
qureyoon
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Quote:
On 2008-05-05 19:36, chias wrote:
Also I figure it's important to view magic as something fun, something entertaining. Then no amount of practice will be seen as irritating or frustrating.


You got that right there Smile If you start to get frustated then you're doing it to much, get a break for a while, and come back again Smile don't overdo it Smile
loyaleagle
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A lot of good tips here. I am about 3 months into serious practice (at least an hour every day....usually more) with no real desire to go pro, just fun. I have found the best help comes from the forum and the people on it.

Also, I recently found some schoolmates who also do magic at some level and seeing their intermediate level gave me more reasonable goals and also showed me how much better I could become with only a few more months of practice.

Finally, I suggest doing everything as slow as possible and try to get the handling perfect...then let yourself move a little faster, don't "try" to go faster. Muscle memory is the only way to increase speed deftly, so it takes time. This goes for cards and coins the same way I learned it...in karate.
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clarissa35f
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I started the same way. Just as a Hobbyist learning Card magic to entertain friends and family. 1 sleight at a time, one effect at a time. Ammar was awesome have 8 volumes of his ETMCM series, still need volume 9.

The secret is, as has been said. Take it seriously enough to aim for perfection in sleights as you practice, yet always keep it fun. The moment it seems to be a chore, or a routine, and that you are practicing, but not enjoying it. Take a break.

I am learning Fiber Optics Extended by Richard Sanders. I will practice one move or two for half an hour or so... usually they go together... and I just repeat it til I get tired. Then I'll take a break. Then go back to it. take a break. Come online read the forums. Do some magic Window Shopping. etc... What I find helps me is as Darwin advices in TT Encyclopedia is, practice everyday. If you add up every moment in the day when you are standing around waiting.... it adds up after a while.." beats waiting around watching a fly crawl up a drape."<Darwin> Take some cards, some coins... etc.. waiting for the bus? Do Erdnases, Practice your french drop or your retention vanish.

Anyway, I am now thinking of semi-pro no clue what or how, But my goal is for my magic performance to pay for my magic equipment...if I can get there for the time being I'll be content...until I feel the need to be challenged by another hurdle.
“Amateurs practice until they get it right.
Professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong.” <Anonymous>
"There is no such thing as magic, there is no other way that could have been done" <Whit Haydn>
Strange Tasting Fish Sticks
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I have 2 words of advice. I started magic when I was around 11, and had my own magic business with my dad for awhile. Eventually I lost interest in magic and got interested in other things. I recently got back into and started practicing the classic palm, holding the coin into position for 3 days straight holding it everywhere. I'm not good at it yet -- but I used to practice the CP a little bit a long time ago too. I gave up on it. So this time I'm not going to give up.

Also, someone mentioned in another thread, an amaeteur magician approached a famous magician who is highly skilled (Can't remember his name), the famous magician asked the amateur how many tricks he knew, he said "I know over 400 tricks with cards". Then the amateur asked the professional about how many tricks he knew, and he said "I think I know about 8"

The point being, pick a few tricks and become an EXPERT in them, master them. It's much more better to have mastered and perfected a few great tricks, than to flunder and mess up a bunch of tricks
ferrissteve
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The last post hits the nail on the end. its so easy to get caught up trying to learn so many differnt effects because they are new and exciting, but often enough they end up collecting dust in our collections. its worth taking the time and often case, money to learn effects that will be ones you use. I have spent many summers getting down a routine till its perfect to the point of being able to do it in my sleep. its both rewarding and frustrating, but in the end worth it. recently spent several months getting the muscle pass just right. now I can do it at whim, and the reactions it gets are worth it. invest in the classics and you wont be disappointed.
clarissa35f
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I think the above is the best advice. Aim to be the best at what you enjoy doing. But also, never be afraid to explore if you find your interests evolving.

I don't think it's a good thing to feel " locked" in to your specialty. I used to perform almost entirely card effects. And still have 8 volumes of Ammar Card Miracles that I practice a lot. I STILL consider myself a Cardician.

But I find myself drawn to effects that are easier to routine...Like Fiber Optics Extended. Or Tabary Rope. And I STILL do not go anywhere without a deck of cards.

My best advice is, if you find yourself wanting to try something different, first make sure it's not just idle curiosity. This can lead to an empty pocket sooner or later. There is no way that you can learn ALL magic unless you have a trust fund like Paris Hilton Smile Make sure it is something you actually can see yourself performing.

Secondly, when tackling a new branch. ALWAYS aim to learn the basic sleights first... always sleights...then later ... maybe aim for Gimmicks. Meaning before you buy Scotch and Soda, get David Stone Basic Coin magic... or Ammar Intro to Coin Magic. In the Long run if you are willing to put the time and practice into it, Learning sleights is a better value over owning one effect. Another advantage. it may never happen but pay $35 for scotch and soda, put time and energy into learning it and you lose scotch and soda...what happens then? Pay for Expert Coin Magic made Easy by David Roth. Put the time and energy into learning it, and if you lose the DVD you still have the sleights and the skills.

Last point. I believe if people getting to know you as a magician see something Like Scotch and Soda first, the thing they will think of first is.." the coins are gimmicked." And will want to inspect them. If you learn basic coin sleights first, then the things they see you do, will be with either borrowed, or inspectable coins. They can examine them to their hearts content, they will see no gimmick, they will assume after a while the truth, that it is all just skill on your behalf... skill and sleight of hand. Now Once you have them here, you can pull Gimmicks out of your ..umm you get the point. And then they will not be as likely to think it's a gimmick.

I think the same can be said for almost any other branch of magic....sleights first.... then once they are used to it being all sleights, using Gimmicks makes you look MORE gifted in sleights, MORE magical... and gimmicks would be less likely to be given credit.

Just my thoughts
“Amateurs practice until they get it right.
Professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong.” <Anonymous>
"There is no such thing as magic, there is no other way that could have been done" <Whit Haydn>
jocce
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I feel one of the problems when I try to learn something new (magic, math, a language or whatever) is that I don't see my own progress. That's why I started a little diary when I decided to try and learn coin magic. I don't write in it every day but it's been adding up over the last 3 years and I can now look back and remember how I struggled with the classic palm or something else that is not a problem today.

This help's me to get perspective and realize that it's natural to be struggling with f.ex. the crimp change (which I am right now) and at the same time know that this too will feel like a quite natural move in a years time or so.
amprice99
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I also feel it's equally important to practice the patter to an effect. I have seen many versions of effects and the most enjoyable had a nice patter. Regarding practice, keep practicing every day. Some things will take months to perfect. Many years ago I gave up on coin magic because I felt I wasn't learning fast enought. Now I'm picking it back up again because I know that it's going to take awhile to get it right, but I will get there.
themagiciansapprentice
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Amprice99

I agree. When I did my first outdoor magic birthday party my effects worked, my patter was hopeless. Luckily I was chauffeur for my Mentor that day as he had a bad back and his kids were attending the party as guests anyway. To help me he went and got Run, Rabbit, Run and Silver Sceptre out of the car and gave a free show (which he billed as my second act) to all the party-goers. I hung on every word.

I often practise in front of my (non-magician) friends' children. Each friend then gives me detailed feed-back. The first time I was taken aback; my twentty minute show using my new props got 1 1/2 hours of review. My patter, pace of talking and even how I needed to use flourishes when adding silks to the change bag. This was so valuable. I wrote down my patter for the first time, then got my friend to review it.

Recently, I performed at a party at Burger King and their staff videoed thirty minutes of the disco, games and my act!! I scrutinized it for days in order to improve my tricks and patter. Then last night I compared my patter to my mentor, to Terry Herbert and other magicians on dvds and youTube.

Still learning ....
Have wand will travel! Performing children's magic in the UK for Winter 2014 and Spring 2015.
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