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Toronto, Canada
259 Posts

Profile of MGordonB
Hi Folks

I have been working on magic for about 18 months now and while I’ve come a long way I know that I still have a looooonnnng way to go!

Like a lot of newbies I started off with a few store bought tricks a TT and a Svengali deck. I quickly learned that I needed to learn “real magic" so I bought Joshua Jay’s and Mark Wilson’s Complete Course in Magic, a set of cups and balls, a few decks of Bicycles, some rope and sponge balls and got to work. Over the past year or so, I also picked up a few more books such as Royal Road to Card Magic, Bobo’s Modern Coin Magic, the Magic Book by Harry Lorayne as well as DVD’s such as Michael Ammar’s Complete Cups and Balls.

I did my first shows last Christmas and New Years for family and friends. These were pretty basic shows and they worked out OK, my mistakes were overlooked and good times were had by all. I practiced more, got my cups and balls routine down, learned sponge balls and a few rope tricks. I did a second show last May as part of a work fundraiser and this worked out very nicely. I continued practicing and learning and did another show last September as part of my boss’s retirement which worked out nicely. I continued to refine and learn and did some more shows this past Christmas and New Year’s, this time with mixed success. For the first time, I performed for total strangers and I think my nerves got in the way a bit. My cups and balls was very strong but I stumbled on my card tricks.

So, what have I learned…

1 – Practice, practice, practice. Not just the moves and the routine, but the performance, timing and patter as well. Work in front of a mirror or videotape yourself to ensure everything flows and you don’t flash anything.

2 – Learn always, learn all ways. There have been numerous threads in the café that say books are the way to go, others say video (but not Youtube), others say learn from an experienced magician or join a club. I submit all these methods (yes Youtube included) have value. For me, it’s a combination of all the above. I’ll read about an effect, I’ll see it on video, I’ll read about it again, when I get a chance I’ll work with a magician and go back and read about it some more and watch the video again. Sometimes I'll come back to a trick I read about in the past and try learning it again. I’ve also learned to accept that some tricks I’ll “get” right away and some will take much more time – I’ve been working on a card to impossible location (card box) using a MCF for over a year now and it’s still not ready for prime time.

3 – Have a very understanding (and patient) partner that you can try stuff out on. Your partner will quickly reveal to you what works and what doesn’t, especially your timing, pacing and in my case, instructions for card tricks.

4 – Figure out what you most like to do and do those things. I believe the enthusiasm you have for the effects you most like to do comes out in your performance which the audience picks up on. If you’re having fun then likely they will too. In my case, I’m finding that I mostly enjoy doing smaller close up effects and I’m less keen on the larger parlour or stage type stuff. For me, ropes, mentalism, linking rings and things like square circles are kind of meh. I really like doing cups and balls, close up card tricks, the shell and pea game and effects like the Matrix.

5 - Many of the tricks that you can buy in the magic stores are disappointing. For me, the tricks I've learned from the books have been the ones that have worked the best from an audience reaction perspective. I think folks are more impressed by things that you have obviously done rather than by something that looks like a magic prop.

6 - Don't do too many card tricks. One or two in a given routine is probably enough. Because a deck of cards or a packet trick is easy to carry, I think card tricks have become a magician's goto default when it comes to doing tricks on the spot. I think magicians like card tricks far more than lay people do. I'm not saying that I won't keep on learning and performing card tricks, I will, but I will also be learning other things like coins and I'll mix it up a bit more.

So… where to from here?

I’m going to keep working and refining my magic and I think focus more on close-up. My projects for the coming year:

1 – Develop a chop cup routine
2 – Develop an invisible deck routine
3 – Get my card to impossible location (card box) with MCF down pat. I know the steps and routine I want to follow, now I need to work on it and practice it to get it to a point where it’s ready to show.
4 – Redevelop/improve my shell and pea game. I showed a very basic version of this at Christmas and folks really liked it. I think this would be worth building on.
5 – Develop some coin tricks (I’m working through Bobo’s book and I have Ammar’s video)
6 – Improve my presentations, tell better stories. I have read the theory parts of Al Schneider Magic, I'm looking for other books on this and considering buying Ortiz’s Strong Magic.
7 – Continue to refine my cups and balls with mew moves and revised phasing
8 – Practice, practice, practice.

Happy conjuring in 2015
Bill Thompson
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Elite user
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Profile of Bill Thompson
I will tell you that Strong Magic will help you tremendously on improving the reactions to your presentations. Don't expect another book of tricks though... it isn't that kind of book. It is one my most treasured books though.
"To let understanding stop at what cannot be understood is a high attainment.
Those who cannot do it will be destroyed on the lathe of heaven." - Chuang Tse
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Inner circle
New Zealand
1311 Posts

Profile of Yellowcustard
MGordonB I love your post. Its nice to see people really work at what they do and think about it spending time to anlize. You have a pile of great resources and seem to know what you like and what suites you. As I read your post I felt you needed to stop and think about presentation and surprise, surprise you are already thinking that way.

I could ramble on for ages about a lot of things you mentioned but ill keep short.
1- MCF fold is tricky to practice. yes you can get the move smooth but the problem is doing it on the off beat and and undected. This only happens in real flight time. I tried out on people and got caught a few times I would work out how and why they caught me then fix it from there. Since then I have not been caugth and I have done it lots. By the way signed card to mouth is a great way to end a card routine if you don't have your box with you.

2- I would not surprise me if you do this already but keep a note book. Every idea, routine, joke or thougth.Also keep a how a show went log. Check out a blog I wrote

3- Enjoy what you do, bring in other ideas from other parts of your life and your hobbies.

Hope this helps take care and have fun.
Enjoy your magic,

and let others enjoy it as well!
Mike Gilbert
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Las Vegas, Nevada
376 Posts

Profile of Mike Gilbert

I read this and instantly thought, "This person gets it." This kind of thinking and approach will skyrocket you lightyears ahead of the pack. Keep up the great work and let us know what you're working on!
-Mike Gilbert Smile

"Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance."- Steven Pressfield
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Inner circle
old things in new ways - new things in old ways
9087 Posts

Profile of funsway
Your mentioning a "training partner" may be your most important contribution,

and you are contribution, and it is appreciated.

Try and get a partner who is of a different age cohort, though -- not that you haven't. You want a different perspective from yours if possible.

Eventually, finding a mentor will be ideal. Tough to do these days, but even Skype might work.

That is another way of reflecting on what you are doing -- a process you have already started.

Also, practice reading out loud to people -- even at a hospital or Scenario Center. Train the flexibility of your voice as much as your hands.

You cannot create awe and wonder in the mind of another without finding it first in yourself --

and you are and will
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst

eBooks at questions at
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Inner circle
Yuma, AZ
2290 Posts

Profile of Ed_Millis
Be careful about trying to do too much. As I look at your list for this year, that's a lot and it's all over the map. You may want to pick one or two items that you do now and work on the presentations, and then just add one new thing."Strong Magic" is an excellent choice, but it's not reading to relax with at the end of the day -- it's as much work to absorb that as the MCF is for you.

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Loyal user
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Profile of drmagico
One of the most important things you can learn is the history of our art form. By learning the history of what we all love to do you will amass a great deal of knowledge that will only help to enhance your performance...Good luck on your journey...Howard
Harry Lorayne
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New York City
8511 Posts

Profile of Harry Lorayne
I've "been working on magic" for about 81 YEARS now and I still can only SUGGEST, but only from experience. Even that I rarely do - I do teach, but then usually leave it to the "learner." I do, however, agree with most of what the OP says. I am, however, in lots, LOTS, of trouble - since I sure as h*ll do more "than one or two" card tricks! So, his #6 - WOW! But, sir, I don't EVER carry decks of cards or packet tricks - does that make it all right? Hope so - since I've been known to do 40 or 50 card tricks during one session (and have people ASKING FOR MORE! But, it gets down basically to what I've screamed, written many times - TO EACH HIS OWN.
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Profile of Kbuck54
MGordonB, you absolutly GET IT!!!! I loved your post and the deep understanding and dedication to our art.
You are on the right path my friend.
Keith Shazam
Mike Gilbert
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Las Vegas, Nevada
376 Posts

Profile of Mike Gilbert
We'll go easy on you Harry...since you're new and all Smile :p hahahaha
-Mike Gilbert Smile

"Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance."- Steven Pressfield
Bob Sanders
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Grammar Supervisor
Magic Valley Ranch, Clanton, Alabama
20522 Posts

Profile of Bob Sanders

Great focus I don't see everyday.

I'm sure I'll see you down the road. Best wishes!

Bob Sanders

Magic By Sander / The Amazed Wiz
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Loyal user
Toronto, Canada
259 Posts

Profile of MGordonB
Hi Guys
Thank you all for your kind words of support and encouragement. I have been a member of the Café for a few months now and I have really enjoyed reading, and learning from your posts. This forum really is about magicians helping magicians!

To Harry, upon further reflection my comments about card tricks may be more a reflection of the stage I'm in at this time. I'm not that good with them at the moment so I think my nervousness shows up more when I do them and consequently may turn off my audiences a bit. I tend to do relatively simple effects and self-working card tricks. To paraphrase The Magic Book, self-workers are fine but they need additional touches like false shuffles and cuts to add elements of magic to them. I'm working on these touches but I'm not quite there yet. Maybe I'll feel differently about card tricks in a couple of years when I gain more confidence.

To Ed, thanks for your comments. To clarify, my list of projects is mostly refinements or continued developments of things I'm already working on. Only the ID and coins is really new. That said, I'll rethink the list a bit to keep it manageable. I'm hearing from many of the other comments in this thread that getting the routining down might be the most important project, so it's off to the shop for me to pick up a copy of Strong Magic!

Thanks again!
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