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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » New to magic? » » How to Learn Slight of hand (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Prophet
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This is an essay written by a friend of mine many years ago, I believe he would love for it to be passed on here to help those new to magic.

By: Olde Rabbit
This is a standard post/lecture I put on the board here every so often, for the beginners, who are getting into sleight of hand or manipulation magic, and need to know what's ahead, and how best to learn it.

Manipulation and Sleight of Hand magic are performed by so few magicians because they are difficult to learn. It takes a lot of practice, discipline, and patience. Which most magis, both pro and amateur, don't have.

The advantage to learning this type of magic is that it looks more like true magic to audiences, and the magis will hold you in great respect for having the determination to get it down.

When you first learn sleight of hand, your first big worry is that you try the sleights and they don't work. Your hands are too big, or too small, or the object just won't move right, or won't stay where it should and falls on the floor.

The truth of the matter is, no one can do most sleight of hand and manipulation moves the first time. Sometime you won't be able to do it for a week. But if you keep trying, you'll eventually be able to do it, maybe even only 1 time out of 10, but you'll be able to do it. And if you keep practicing, your chances of doing it successfully will increase, until you can do it correctly and successfully each time.

The problem with doing the move isn't really that your hands are too big or small. It's that you have to use different muscles than you have used before, or use the same muscles in different ways. This takes training, and training takes time.

So when you are trying to learn a sleight or manip move, first follow the instructions to the letter. Pay attention to each detail, such as what part of the card or coin or ring touches what part of which finger, etc. This is important. It is detail which can overwhelm you if you let it, but don't. Take it very slow, and get it right.

Then, each day if possible, set aside some time to work on your moves. You want to be relaxed, and in a good mood. Tommy Wonder suggests putting on favorite music to help you relax and feel comfortable.

You want to work on your new moves for only about 10-15 minutes each, and keep the session down to about an hour at the most. If your hands start to get tired, or you get tired, or your concentration drifts, stop. You can't force yourself to learn new stuff when you're not at your peak, or your hands are stiff and/or sore.

Don't worry about the whole effect yet, and don't worry about not being able to "get it". Just keep working on it, and telling yourself it will come. It will, believe me, if you do keep working on it.

The first stage you'll reach is when you realize you can do the move without looking at the instructions or pictures. As soon as that happens, you want to sort of shift gears, trying to make it all the way thru the trick each time. Divide up your practice sessions so you go thru the effect a few times, then work on specific moves which are shaky, then go thru the whole effect or routine again.

Starting to do the whole trick or routine as soon as you can do the moves without looking at the instructions is very important. Sleight of Hand and Manipulation rely on the routine to provide the magic. Most sleights or manip moves by themselves are not magical, and often wouldn't fool anyone. But when presented as a series of small mysteries within a routine, each mystery builds on the previous ones, ending in an effect which is truly magical, and leaves your audience totally fooled as to how you accomplished it.

As you practice your routine, you'll still find the moves work some of the time. Just keep working. After a while you'll find they work most of the time. And finally, perhaps several weeks or even months down the road, you'll realize they are working every time. But don't stop there. Keep working on the routine until the handling becomes automatic, so you don't have to watch your hands, or think about what is coming next. You just start the routine, go into automatic, and it progresses to the end.

At this point you can perform for your friends and relatives. You'll be comfortable enough doing the routine you won't have to think hard while doing it. You'll have confidence as you've done it so many times. And while you're performing, you can watch the faces of your audience, come up with entertaining things to say, judge how you are going over, etc.

So that's how you learn sleight of hand and manipulation. It takes a long time, and a lot of work. But when you have an effect mastered, you'll be doing it for the rest of your life. You'll knock your audiences over with incredible magic, and knock other magicians over with your skill and determination. And you'll be so proud of yourself, you won't be able to sit still!

This applies to sleight of hand with all different types of objects, such as coins, cards, ropes, balls, parasols, anything you can think of. Also Routined Manipulation effects like Cups & Balls, Linking Rings, etc.

Think of it as similar to learning to play a musical instrument. You go thru an awkward stage, when people would probably prefer you don't perform. Then you start getting it down. Then you increase gradually until you impress the Heck out of everyone, including yourself.

Good Luck!
Yours In Magic

Mike

Smile
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Believing
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This essay is quite inspiring. I started card magic a month or two ago, and I constantly remind myself that I will be able to do the sleight if I keep on practicing. Thank you for sharing the essay.
Prophet
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It is my pleasure. This essay was written about 10 years ago by a dear friend and mentor in magic who has passed away. I came across it and knew he would of loved to share it here to help many more aspiring magi.
Yours In Magic

Mike

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If you are new to Magic check out my article
http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?topic=462185&forum=41
Duct Tape is like the Force. It has a dark and a light side and holds the universe together.
Richard Schneider
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I very much appreciate the essay. Thank you for sharing it.

One standard way of staying motivated during the days/weeks/months of practice is to record yourself doing the moves. Then later on (perhaps when you're getting tired of practicing), you can watch the videos and see how far you've come.

Also, the biggest thing I've found that helps me (beginner that I am) stay in it is remembering why I'm doing it in the first place. I personally am doing all this practice so that I can help bring some light and cheer into people's (sometimes dark) lives. That motivates me to keep the practice up, even when I don't feel like it.
SWiCh
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Thanks for sharing Prophet, I took up magic again 6 months ago after a 10 year break - and I have decided not to use just gaff decks or gimmicks, but to learn proper sleight of hand (or 'proper magic'!). This is an inspiration to handle my cards every day and to nail down a routine!

Cheers.
rmann
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Thanks for posting this. I am not sure how I missed reading it when you originally posted it, but it is a good motivational piece. Your friend was a wise man.

Ray
_



Pastor Ray Mann

Champlain Valley Church of the Nazarene

St. Albans, VT (USA)




"...to Him who alone does great wonders, His love endures forever." Ps 136:4
Prophet
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Pushing this back to the top because I think its a great piece for beginners to read.
Yours In Magic

Mike

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If you are new to Magic check out my article
http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?topic=462185&forum=41
Duct Tape is like the Force. It has a dark and a light side and holds the universe together.
Brad Burt
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Learning and perfecting any physical skill is truly about two basic things well addressed above. 1- Learn the skill/sleight attempting to make sure that you truly understand HOW it is supposed to be executed. 2- Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat and as you do work steadily to perfect the move. Oh, there is a third: 3- Use the move/sleight in context. That is use it in a trick or routine so that the how becomes integrated with the why. fini That really is all there is to it.

Although it works for some folks, it is usually a mistake to attempt to perfect a sleight in the process of learning a trick. It lacks focus on either. Breaking things down into components and then reassembling is generally productive.

Best,
Brad Burt
Atom3339
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Learning a sleight OUT OF CONTEXT with a routine actually helps you come up with your own new routines. Learning a sleight with a specific routine is important too as it gives you ASSURANCE of your handling IN CONTEXT. Smile
TH

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Albatros
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A very indigenous approach and certainly well advised - thanks for the interesting read. Thinking about the amount of really badly done slight of hand one has to witness these days one can just hope that some people give it a try. Just think of youtube - and those people have all the freedom of the world to choose their angels and editing - they could even black out the video while the slight happens [at least this would leave some space for wonder and astonisment (aka. "did he really..." Smile].

All the best,
Sven ^^
"Palming cards... Like sex, it can be learned by almost anybody,but doing it well requires some native talent and assiduous practice." (John Scarne)
Brad Burt
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Do you know why you see sleight-of-hand routines done badly? It's not simply the manner in which they are learned...it's more a 'mental' orientation TO the magic routine itself. It you think of 'sleights' as the most important part of the routine you will tend to focus too much attention on the sleight. A kind of mind set takes place in which you WANT the sleight to be seen. The idea that a 'sleight' is not just an UNSEEN but also UNPERCEIVED move that helps a magic 'effect' take place is anathema to many magicians. "I've spent all this time to learn this cool move....man I wish folks knew how cool it was." I've felt this way many times over the last 43 years, but I was reared magically with a focus on the hard set definition of what a sleight is supposed to be.

A magic routine until it's perfected to smoothness generally happens like this: bumpty, bumpty, bumpty BUMP(finale) When what is wanted is not a presentation of particles, but one that is one continues 'wave'. It begins and moves smoothly to completion in such a manner that really nothing seems to happen in the in-between.

Magic is in many ways the most frustrating of the performing crafts. Think of juggling: Secrets on open display. Or whatever else you can think of. The magician on the other hand ONLY gets kudos for an "end". Even a routine like Ambitious Card is really just a series of 'finales' and that's one of the reasons that so many magicians, myself included, love it! We get to do LOTS of magic 'endings' in one long riff.

The reason the magic practice is so onerous, so difficult to stay with until it's actually over is that it takes a lot of 'work' to get a routine to really, REALLY look the way it is meant to. That's why the classic suggestion is: Work on one thing until you really have it nailed and then move on. I HATE that! But, there you go.... I'm not doing shows right now so I can work on as much stuff as I like...

Best,
Brad Burt
jaschris
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Great thread. Thanks to Prophet for sharing.
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