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Profile of minusthebear
Right now I am practicing card handling, i.e. flourishes, forces, holds, and shuffles before I move onto tricks. I've bought a lot of resources like Oz Pearlman's born to perform, etc. However, I'm kind of struggling.

I'm really interested in cards and mentalism namely because I want to get into street magic, but I don't know where to start. I begin learning a trick, perform it a couple times but then I want to learn something new. I don't know how often I should be practicing a single trick and the like, I'm just so eager to learn something new to show people another trick.

I'm going to get Wilson's complete course and 13 steps to mentalism, but I guess I just don't really know where to start or how long I should spend on a single trick. I know it should be, "till you have it down." However, even when I think I have it down, if I go to perform it, my hands start shaking, and my handling gets all messed up. I also tend to forget them because I'm moving to fast. Like, I understand the general concept but I really am moving so fast.

What do you recommend on average for tricks? I'm also planning to get some more self-working impromptu tricks to hold me over so I can show people tricks while I'm still learning more.

Also, how long did it take you to get the general handling down? I've been practicing consistently the past week and I've had immense improvement cause when I started I didn't even know how to shuffle. Anyways, I guess I'm just looking for some advice and wondering how long it takes so I can grow my patience etc. Thanks.
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Profile of TKE
How long it takes is such a general question. people have different learning abilities. Also, because you are so new, you lack the coordination and dexterity that others have.

eventually, you'll find learning becomes easier. not only because you have better skills, but because you'll develop patience and work ethic.

when you are new you should be learning a little bit of everything. you eventually should develop a character and find out what tricks are going to fit into your style.

for some people, this takes years. others, never find it.

be wise with your purchases. be sure to read tons of reviews and watch demo videos if possible before buying anything.

personally, I'd say books and dvds are the way to go.

good luck
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Profile of Cyberqat
ADD is not a good trait in a magician, unless you happen towards the hyper-focus end of the spectrum.

Most new magicians quickly learn that knowing how an illusion is performed is no big deal, but having the skill to perform it well is a whole other thing.

Skill only comes from practice and practice takes time and commitment. If you don't have a full length mirror yet, that purchase will pay off far more in the long run then any book or DVD. You can get a cheap one at KMart (or Walmart or similar stores). get one, put it up on your wall or the back of a door and practice in front of it. It will show you not what you will see when you do an illusion, but what your audience will see, which is far more important.

Knowing how it will look to your audience will help add confidence, too.

The difference between a kid doing a 'trick' and a magician performing a miracle, is practice and presentation.
It is always darkest just before you are eaten by a grue.
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Profile of coolini
I ll add few words...take your time, nobody is chasing you to perform.
magic isn't something you master in a'll know that you r ready when feel the need for a deck of cards in your hands most of times. have an act and developed a character are thinking how to improve your act most of times...
and good luck
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Profile of Cyberqat
Cool makes an excellent point., And I'll add...the day you find yourself unconsciously practicing a slight WITHOUT the deck (or in my case, coins) in your hands... you'll know you have it down cold.

It should be natural behavior to you. If your still thinking about doing it, you haven't practiced enough. Magic is very Zen. If its natural behavior to you, then you will look natural to the audience, and that's when it crosses from trick to illusion.
It is always darkest just before you are eaten by a grue.
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Profile of Jaxon
Sounds like you've made some good choices as far as books to pick up and all that. So just keep at it. We all had to start somewhere.

My advice is to learn just a few tricks that you'll actually go out and perform for people. Remember, the average person won't know a new or original trick from one that's been performed for years. So just learn some simple ones and start performing them.

At the same time keep practicing the stuff you want to eventually be able to master. Add them to the tricks you can perform for people once you get there.

Since you mentioned card magic. I'd recommend an invisible pack. Learn a basic Ambitious card routine and a couple of coin vanishes/false transfers (Just one vanish opens many routines).

Ron Jaxon

After regaining my ability to hear after 20 years of deafness. I learned that there is magic all around you. The simplest sounds that amazed me you probably ignore. Look and listen around you right now. You'll find something you didn't notice before.
Andrew Eng
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Profile of Andrew Eng
How long should you practice a trick? Well for me, I practice a trick until I can perform it during my sleep. Furthermore, I would have considered all the possible outs that can happen and memorized the script I use during the trick. However I can tell you, that is not all. Things like setting the atmosphere, how to amplify an effect, etc., must also be done to get the best reaction out of a trick. Since you just started magic, doing what I have said above before performing a trick should be enough. Have fun. =)

Thus the whole moon shines in every lake,
For it stands high enough.
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Profile of Ed_Millis
*How* you practice is very important!
You can not allow yourself to feel "driven"!

If you practice feeling like someone is pushing you towards a deadline, or until you are so frustrated you can't hold the cards, or until you are feeling stupid and incompetent, then you are doing something wrong.

And it has nothing to do with the mechanics of your practice.
It has everything to do with how you are practicing.
That is - what frame of mind you have when you practice.

Nobody is going to grade you on this. Nobody is going to delete your birth certificate if you can't do a decent false shuffle. You may have some "friends" who will call you bad things if you mess up, but they're not friends - they are toxic waste and you don't need them!

Anything worth doing well is going to take time - LOTS of time!
So have the frame of mind that you are learning. And it's okay for someone just learning to not do things right, to make mistakes, even to forget what you knew perfectly just last week.

How long to practice? As long as it's fun!
When it's not fun, put it down and walk away!
Keep going as long as you like it.
You may even make some progress and learn new stuff. Great!
If not, you still had fun!!
(If you aren't having fun, the people watching you won't either!)

You are not your tricks. Your value is not determined by your perfection at any trick. Your contribution to the world is not magic - it's you.

The best magicians aren't the ones who can do everything perfectly, but who can mess up big time and still bring their audience into a good time.

That has little to do with practice.
That has everything to do with you!

Welcome to a fantastic and fun journey into magic!
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Profile of rklew64
Forced patience and understanding the art of performance.
You'll understand only until you hit rock bottom and get burned and embarrassed because I think your setting yourself up for big disappointment and burnout, whichever comes first.
Yea it may sound like discouragement but everyone is saying look at the bigger picture and it sounds like you have big blinders on.
I say take a break by watching magic, practice passively and actively and hopefully something will click with you - grab a book on magic theory.
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Profile of inigmntoya
In a way I think you answered your own question.

how long I should spend on a single trick. I know it should be, "till you have it down." However, even when I think I have it down, if I go to perform it, my hands start shaking, and my handling gets all messed up.

You will _actually_ "have it down" when you not only think you do, but when you can perform the trick for someone else without starting to shake, and without the handling getting all messed up.

The only way to do that is to keep up the practice of both the trick itself, and the live performance -- perhaps finding a willing friend, family member, or fellow magician to first try things out on. That can help reduce the jitters, and they will hopefully be able to give you valuable feedback in terms of how well you performed, whether you gave anything away, etc. Once you can give that person a flawless performance (from their view, after probably seeing a number of blown handlings), then move on to someone else. At that point you should have more confidence in your ability to execute the handling properly, which should further reduce the jitters.
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Profile of DomKabala
Here is something that may shed a little light on:


Beginners are often apathetic or show a lack of interest to the importance of practice. So I gave it some thought and came up with this. I hope it will inspire those who are struggling or lackadaisical with the importance of practice.

P - Patience...good ability/skill does not come easily, be patient.

R - Respite...intervals of rest or relief combined with practice is paramount in order to advance. Psychologists have determined that marathon practice without rest can hinder the learning process. "Festina Lente" (Latin for "make haste slowly").

A - Attention...application of the mind to the task at hand without distractions makes for better and more productive results. Paying attention to detail is the secret of the masters. This can be termed as “Deliberate Practice”.*

C - must strive for uniformity in all your motions/technique when practicing.

T - Tenacity...stick-to-it-tiveness and perseverance is a product of desire and ambition to succeed. Don't give up.

I - Imagination...creative ability is more important than knowledge & when physical practice is not possible or practical, visualization techniques can be utilized with good results. Go through the motions in your mind and visualize yourself performing the required techniques.

C - Composure...calmness and self possession will make for a more productive practice session. To practice when you are tired or distracted will hinder your progress.

E - Effectiveness...the product of practice is a decided, decisive, desired & intended result... which is entertainment. To be effective in the presentation of magic is to have paid your dues in unrelenting practice & rehearsal.
Lastly, practice should be fun and not belabored…

Manual skills are the results of practice…practice in the sense of constant repetition. But, this repetition will not serve the full purpose if it is done without thought. For practice to become effective, the brain should work in unison or collaborate with the hands and contribute its part toward progression.

During the early stages of development, one must be fully conscious of every detail of execution; but as proficiency is neared the influence of the conscious mind will diminish in intensity. This is because the acquired knowledge is absorbed by the sub-conscious mind which from now on assumes the responsibility of directing the hands in the performance of their duties.

From this point the hands become under the influence and guidance of the sub-conscious and not the conscious mind; the latter is left free to take care of the presentation.

The expert manipulative conjuror’s skill is the result of relentless and unremitting labor, but if during a public display he were compelled to think of every element in the process he would fail miserably. To put it mildly, the movement of his hands has become automatic. Therefore, in aiming to develop high proficiency, one must strive to reach this level of automation. This makes all the difference between a mature and immature performer.

"PRACTICE" is the "OIL" for your "MACHINE"...without it; it becomes "SLUGGISH & RUSTY".

K. Anders Ericsson, professor of psychology at Florida State University, is one of the leading researchers in the field of expertise. He has spent years studying what makes people great at what they do, be they violinists or chess players or athletes.

In his research, he said, there appears to be very little evidence that talent is linked to individual genetic differences. One exception he sees is height. It’s difficult, for example, to be a professional basketball player if you’re too short or an Olympic gymnast if you’re too tall.

But it does not follow, Professor Ericsson said, that everyone can become great, or even really good, in a given arena. First of all, you need to have parents willing to put in an intensive amount of resources and time in helping you excel.

In fact, research has shown that most people who are really outstanding in their fields don’t come out of nowhere. Top-notch musicians are usually born into families where music plays a dominant role. The same is true with sports or any other endeavor.

In addition, by studying those who have excelled, Professor Ericsson has found that they engage in something he calls “deliberate practice.”* It involves spending hours a day in highly structured activities to improve performance and overcome weaknesses.

The practice is not necessarily enjoyable and requires someone willing to put in the grueling hours over at least 10 years. From his observations, it takes a minimum of a decade of deliberate practice to excel in any field.

But he is not talking about practicing every day, all day. Four hours a day is usually the maximum that anyone can do to really get the most out of the effort, he said. After that, exhaustion sets in.

“Most people wouldn’t be able to engage in deliberate practice for even a few weeks,” Professor Ericsson said. And that’s one of the biggest reasons why more of us don’t get to — or even near — the top levels in a given field.

I hope this helps...

Dom Smile Smile
We don't stop playing when we grow old...we grow old when we stop playing.

God is enough, let go, let God. Gal 2:20

"Anything of value is not easily attained and those things which are easily attained are not of lasting value."

Smile Smile Smile Smile
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Profile of ralphs007
Go to the Buffet and click on (Enhancing Your Ability to Work Wonders - by Brad Burt). He has a ton of helpful information there!
"You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him".
James D. Miles
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Profile of Ed_Millis
Dom, that was great stuff!!

I used to think that because I read about a trick and understood the moves, I cold do it. But I found that very thing - having to think through every move in a performance because I did not practice - killed me!!

If it isn't worth the practice, it's not worth performing!

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Profile of wingz
Once you think you nail the routine down, take a video camera and set it up across from you as your audiences.

Perform your routine from start to finsh.

You can then check for flashes and glitches once you sit down and play back the vidoe clip. You may find something you did not notice even when you perform in front of the mirror.

I'd suggested you take both a wide shot and a close up shot too.
Douglas Lippert
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Profile of Douglas Lippert
On 2010-06-27 17:35, minusthebear wrote:
I don't know how often I should be practicing a single trick and the like, I'm just so eager to learn something new to show people another trick.

Since you are new to magic I recommend you try e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. before deciding which tricks to "get down cold" like people are telling you. Of course this can get really expensive. Therefore I really recommend the book you plan on getting, "Mark Wilson's..." It has just about every type of magic effect inside. Gold.

Don't worry about having routines yet. Have FUN!
Douglas Lippert
Former I.B.M. Ring #8 Secretary
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Profile of 55Hudson

Everyone is different, so hard to give specific advice -- but I'll give it a shot anyway.

I assume you are in school, or working so are not spending all day working on magic (like most of us). Most people also need to put the cards down after a while or your practice will get very sloppy. So here's what I recommend (and what I do): Pick an effect that you want to master; set aside 20 minutes to practice it without interruption three to 5 days per week. Plan on 3 to 6 months before performing. Sound like a lot? Not really. 20 minutes, three days is only 1 hour per week. 3 months is only 13 hours...

What to do with the rest of your time? Work on three different effects in parallel. that's 3 to 5 hours per week. At the end of 3 months you'll have a 5 to 10 minute set. At the end of a year you will have 4 sets of material. Don't try to measure your progress in hours or days -- you will get very frustrated. Measure it in months and years. Don't forget to run through your previously learned routines -- spend 3 hours on new material and 1 to 2 hours on old material. The nice thing about magic is that you continue to learn and build. You never lose anything, just keep adding.

Have fun and good luck!

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Profile of asgar
You don't need a lot of flourishes, forces, holds, and shuffles.Just learn the easy to do tricks first and start showing them then move to harder ones .When you start showing magic for friends u'll automatically go for learning new tricks to rich your repertoire.
Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen.
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Profile of Cyberqat
I only know two flourishes myself (well three if you count one handed dealing.) Both easy. A basic fan and an arm turn-over/catch. A basic fan is expected of any magician.

The turnover is actually MUCH easier then it looks. You lay the cards out with your left and along your upraised right arm (or the other way if your a lefty.) You turn them over, and the you plant your left thumb under the card closest to your elbow, the rest of your fingers curled as a "scoop" above it. You toss the cards in the air with a quick upward motion of the right arm and, at the same time slide your left hand forward and scoop all the cards into it.

It does take some practice, but not NEARLY as much as you might expect from watching it done Smile
It is always darkest just before you are eaten by a grue.
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