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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » A turn of the page » » Navigating Tarbell? (Ropes) (17 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Race Blakhart
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Selma,CA
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I am considerably new to the world of rope magic, and am just recently the owner of the ebook version of the Tarbell courses, and I love it. The only thing I need help with it the navigation.

Say I wanted to focus on rope magic, and put a curriculum together just for myself...where would I begin?

And I doubt reading straight through would be the best way to approach it, but hopefully someone has some tips on this for me. Otherwise I fear I may miss something important if I dive in without first asking where the deep end is.
Michael Baker
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Eternal Order
Near a river in the Midwest
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Having the entire course at your fingertips all at once is like getting a hundred gifts all at once. Where do you jump in??

Although it is fun to skip around and look for things that catch your eye, you would be better off reading the lessons chronologically. They were written that way for a reason. The original Tarbell course was sent out a lesson (or a few) at a time. Each lesson was on a different topic (ropes, cards, coins, etc.), although each may have several things covered within the lesson.

Each lesson may not be encyclopedic on the topic, and topics were often revisited down the line with additional aspects to the topic. This was also for a reason, so as to offer a variety of topics. The student could then manage the task of learning several phases of magic, as opposed to exhausting just one before moving to another. You may very well find that comprehending a lesson may hinge on understanding one that has come previously. It may be possible to follow this plan on just a single topic (like ropes), but you might as well get your money's worth from the course!

There is a group on Facebook that is studying Tarbell in this manner, one lesson at a time from the beginning. Although their sign-up deadline has long passed, the purpose is to study the magic (all the lessons) as they were intended to be taught. It is being moderated by someone who understands this 'old school' method of teaching as being superior to how most magicians today learn magic. I am following along in the group, and I am amazed at how much info I pick up that I know I overlooked before. Not only am I learning some new magic (I thought I'd read the course pretty completely), I am learning a better way to learn it.
~michael baker
The Magic Company
Race Blakhart
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Selma,CA
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Thanks for the reply! Well...I guess I am going to have to go against the grain. I have found very little enjoyment in 97% of the card magic I've ever experienced, and the way the ebook is put together, it starts with a little background on magic, and then nothing but cards for a good while, then everything else follows.
I don't use Facebook, but if I did, I'd definitely be all over that page.
I understand what you're saying about how it was likely written in that specific order for a good reason. But just like I have done throughout my life, (or at least through the school years) I'll have to learn things differently than the rest haha

I guess I was hoping to hear something like a "You could start here, and then maybe look here when you're done with that..." type of response hahaha
Dick Oslund
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So! Michael and I met about 30+ years ago in Birmingham AL, when I lectured for the magicians there. Michael was a teenager, then. I didn't know it at the time, but, Michael wrote me years later, that I had "changed his understanding about magic"! --So! Perhaps, you can "blame" ME, for what he just said!!! heehee!

But, seriously, folks! Michael has given you, IMO at least, the REAL WORK!

Alice in Wonderland asked, "Where does one begin?" --And, the white queen replied, "At the beginning, of course!"

"Doc" (he was a 'naturopathic physician') Tarbell understood how to "teach". A good teacher doesn't just INSTRUCT, he/she MOTIVATES!

In the circus, we don't sell that "refreshing, ice cold, pink lemonade" first. No! First we sell that "fresh, crunchy, pop corn. Then, when everyone is thirsty, we sell LOTS OF LEMONADE!

("Education is NOT FILLING A BUCKET! Education is LIGHTING A FIRE!")

Whenever I've mentored someone, I've made it a point, after we've gotten acquainted, to emphasize that, "I can't TEACH you anything! --I can only HELP YOU LEARN!" (That's because LEARNING is an ACTIVE PROCESS. --SOPHOCLES said it, a few millenia ago: "One learns by DOING the thing."

TARBELL understood those principles, and, that's why his "book" is more than a "book". It's a "course"!

The first course, as Michael has said, was a correspondence course. It came one or two lessons at a time. The later edition came in book form (6 volumes).

Volume 7 (published 12 years after Tarbell died) was written and edited by a very well qualified magician (HARRY LORAYNE). MANY magicians contributed their "pet tricks" to it. Volume Seven, contains a COMPLETE INDEX TO ALL SEVEN VOLUMES. This, IMO, is for reference purposes! The new learner should "take the course"!

Note: The book edition,published by Lou Tannen, has substantially the same material as the pdf of the original course. (The correspondence course was published in 1927. The Tannen edition came out in 1941.) Tannen, for business reasons, changed references to specific props, to those which would benefit his magic shop!

When I first read the Tannen edition (I later acquired the original correspondence course) I "skimmed" the card stuff. I've never been a cardician. I read the material and "filed it in a back corner of my brain". (With the index, I can always refer to what I need.)

I learned PRINCIPLES that helped me develop a show that enabled me to make a good living all my life, doing what I loved to do. I think that I have a fairly good knowledge of principles that relate to performing with rope, string, tape, ribbons, ETC. I don't know every detail of a few of the "latest" rope routines, but, having studied Tarbell, Ralph W. Hull, George Sands, "Gen"Grant, Bob Carver, Whit Haydn, et al, I feel fairly well able to know what "fits" me!

You might say that MY rope routine is "not very original", (here comes the 'but'::: But, ORIGINALITY IS THE ART OF CONCEALING YOUR SOURCE!

I wont reiterate Michael's comments (any more than I already have!). He has said it well.
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Bill Hegbli
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Eternal Order
Fort Wayne, Indiana
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Race, as usual you are going your own way, even though the members are giving you the best advice. Again, it puzzles me why you bother to ask. Your going to do what you decide anyway. So, I am giving you permission to do things the way you want to.

You said you got the PDF format of the course. That PDF format is the original mail order course. Not the updated separate books published by Louis Tannen and now E-Z Magic aka D. Robbins Novelty Company.

I suggest you use the benefits of the PDF reader, and as you read, bookmark the pages and tricks you wish to come pack to later. Some PDF programs even let you make sticky notes yourself about the content. Then just use the search engine in the program to find your sources.

I would suggest you read the entire course straight though at least once. Why, because hopefully, if you run across say the Bill To Lemon Trick and it says to vanish the bill, you will hopefully remember there was a bill vanish in the course that would fit into the current article you are reading.

Or if you are wanting to do a Card In Orange, you will know how to false shuffle the deck and force the card on someone, because you remember reading it previously.

Do you know I bought a pop up dollar bill production once by Patrick Page. I opened Tarbell and there was the same production in print. Of course, Pat Page added a little something to the bill, but it was the identical method and folding of the bill.

There is an old saying, if you want to keep a trick a secret, and not have anyone else do it, just publish it in a book. As it will not be discovered by anyone. I found this to be a very true statement.

Good Luck on your adventure, and keep at it, you will gain a lot of magic knowledge for doing so. One last thing, stop and actually try some the tricks in the book. You just might find something you like.
Race Blakhart
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Selma,CA
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"As usual", Bill? I don't know where you get that from. Especially when I openly follow darn near every word of advice I am given on the Café'. And after reading Dick's post, and yours, I will do as I usually do and follow the advice. I don't know Michael, but if Dick says to pay attention, I pay attention. So to Michael I'm sorry for not realizing the wealth of your advice the first time around.

Aside from that, Thank all three of you for posting! I went ahead and printed this page, to put with my Tarbell notes.



Dick, I am going to gimp out to the mailbox tomorrow and give the mailman the evil eye if he doesn't have your book! Smile Smile Smile
Steve Burton
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Tarbell used the terms "cord" and "string" as well as ropes for these effects in the early lessons in the Tarbell System. These can be found in lessons Three, Six, Seven and 50. Lesson 50 is where he teaches his famous Tarbell Rope Mystery that is little seen these days but was quite the sensation when it first came out in the 1920s. When it was re-edited and re-issued in the Tarbell Course it was referred to as "ropes." So the Cut and Restored Cord in Lesson Six became the Cut and Restored Rope in Volume Two of the bound Tarbell Course.
Dick Oslund
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I'm aware that "Doc" occasionally used "cord" instead of "rope", etc. There are a few methods in which "string" would be "critical" to the method, such as the original KELLAR C&R STRING (the wax). Also in Charlie Miller's "Dunbury Delusion" (and similar uses of the same principle) in which a "two strand" rope (or string)is necessary.

BTW, I saw my first mentor, the late STUART ROSS) present the TARBELL C&R ROPE in his school show (and, a year later in his adult club act)on April 30, 1946. He did it very well, and, it "killed"!

I have NEVER seen it done since! When Stu died, I bought his props. I finally donated some of them to BOB LUND, for the Museum in Marshall Michigan. There were several variations of the "TARBELL", or Caesar, gimmicks over the years. (CONRAD HADEN made, IIRC, an "internal" gimmick.)

The very meticulous preparation needed for Doc's method, no doubt, discouraged many. Most magicians that I've seen, use the "EDWARD VICTOR" sleight technique (and, do the necessary move, badly.) The basic "VICTOR" method is flawed, by poor timing of the move. LEON MAGUIRE "changed the moment" in an article in HUGARD'S MAGIC MONTHLY" in 1945. Maguire's idea works!

I've used Maguires technique for eons! I wrote it up in my book with a complete explanation.

BTW, I inherited Stuart's original Tarbell course. Many years later, I bought DORNY'S copy. My Lou Tannen, 1941 (and later editions) book editions are autographed presentation copies by Tarbell.

It's "good" to discuss Tarbell with someone who has obviously READ the original! Stuart's "8 trick act" was mostly direct from Tarbell. My working act, too, came mostly from Tarbell.
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Race Blakhart
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Selma,CA
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Darn it, Dick! I wish we lived closer to eachother so I could drive over and pick your brain. You always blow my mind with the details and specifics that you can recall. I can't remember what I did yesterday, and here you are, dropping dates from the 40's like it WAS only yesterday.
Dick Oslund
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Well!, we COULD meet in Cheyenne for a long weekend!

When I was starting out, and growing up:

There was no internet. There was no TV either! (ditto, no You Tube!!!)

The only magicians that I saw, and, met, were "live on stage" (mostly school assemblies and circus and carnival side shows). I did get to see Harry Blackstone (pere) at the old Davidson Theater (now a parking lot!) in Milwaukee, when I was 13! --Also, on that same trip, I went to my FIRST magic shop in Milwaukee. (The Mystery Mart) owned by Doctor Teschan. The man behind the counter was Leonard Patyk.

Darrell Hammer, Howard Kahn, Robert Blue and I, communicated on "three hole notebook paper", with 3 cent stamps!

My mentors, Stuart Ross, Clem Magrum, and Roy Mayer also used the US Postal Service! Receiving s letter was an EVENT!

Most magicians that I saw, did "catalog" tricks. Foo cans and funnels, passe passe bottles, change bags etc. were almost "standard" props. The Professor's Nightmare had not been invented yet!

Every contact with a magician, every scrap of information, every prop acquired, was a big event!

You'll note as you read my book, how I treasured those experiences.
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Race Blakhart
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Selma,CA
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I always tell my family how I wish I had been born long before the technology explosion. But just getting to hear your experiences is exciting for me! I can almost picture the situation you're talking about, and imagine if it was me in your shoes. I know some folks would say that we are lucky to have all this information at our fingertips, but I also think we are losing a certain quality that only comes through snail mail, real life meetings of the mind, and having to be patient, and put in a lot of time and effort to see another magician perform, or to find something specific that you might need for a trick or idea.

Like you've said before, you were born in the middle of the Depression, so I know you REALLY know both sides of that coin.
Anatole
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I think of Tarbell like an encyclopedia.
There is much to be gained serendipitously just by browsing through an encyclopedia because it might spark an interest that you might not otherwise have kmown about. And finding something unexpectedly can be a wonderful surprise.

However, I feel that encyclopedias and the Tarbell course are both reference volumes. I do not read the dictionary from page 1 to page 723 because there would be too many words that I would have absolutely no use for. So I learn to use reference books with a purpose.

A good resource for learning what types of material are in Tarbell is the Magic References Pages:
http://magicref.tripod.com/books.htm
where you can scroll down to
Tarbell, Harlan
and find not only links to each volume of the Tarbell Course, but Tarbell's volumes on Chalk Talk and Crazy Stunts as well.

Be sure to also check the other links on the Magic Reference Pages as well.
Resources like the Magic Reference Pages are also useful for times when you can't remember the title of a trick in a book.

And be sure to check out the other links on The Magic Reference Pages.

----- Amado "Sonny" Narvaez
----- Sonny Narvaez
Race Blakhart
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Selma,CA
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Thanks for that great post, Sonny! I was unaware of the Magic Reference pages, but I can see that I will get a lot of use out if them!
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