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ThSecret
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I know this can be subjective as everyone learns differently, but I was wondering which you guys would recommend to be the better of the two; To either pick few moves/sleights (like double cut/lift, palming, riffle shuffle, etc.) and really practice them, and then add them to which ever tricks I want to do. Or should I just pick a few tricks which I want to do and keep practicing the entire trick as a whole with the move?
So one would be to focus specifically just on the move and then adapt it to the trick vs. practicing the entire trick as a whole with the move?
"A play does not take place on stage but in the minds of the spectators."
danaruns
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Yes. Both. Just not at the same time.

The way I did it in the beginning was to learn a move, and then learn tricks that used that move. Later on, I started just learning the tricks I wanted to do, and if I had to learn a new move to do them, I learned those moves in order to do the trick.

There is something to be said for having an arsenal of moves. It's always good to learn basic technique. Then you can apply those moves in a variety of ways. At the same time, you shouldn't become enamored with sleights and flourishes, you should become enamored with making magic, so whichever effort fosters that is the one you should do.

You don't have to do a lot of moves to be a great magician. One of my favorite magicians uses very few moves in his 45-minute show, and each move is super simple. And he kills, every night. No knuckle busting moves, no finger flinging. And that simple work has earned him four Magician of the Year awards at the Magic Castle. These awards are voted on by magicians, who recognized that he didn't need a bunch sleights and flourishes to be an amazing magician. So develop the basics, and then just focus on the magic you want to make. That would be my suggestion, though there are probably as many approaches as there are magicians, so in the end it's what works best for you.
"Dana Douglas is the greatest magician alive. Plus, I'm drunk." -- Foster Brooks
Dick Oslund
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Well, I've NEVER even been nominated for "Magician of the Year" at the Magic Castle. (I have performed there, and, lectured there several time, though. --Here comes the "but": I was a part time pro'. for 20 years, while in high school, and in the Navy, and, college, and, I was a full time pro. for 50 years. --I was never out of work in those 50 years. Lyceum managers called ME. I didn't need to ask them for work. I specialized in Lyceum (school assemblies)which meant that I performed for Kindergarten thru High School audiences, AND, some colleges. I also did "phone promotion" dates (family audiences) club dates for adult groups, and, "anything else" that my agent booked me for (including corporate dates, strolling, and, dates like WGN TV's Bozo Circus!) I'm now retired, but, do occasional club dates.

Most of my show involves hand skills. I don't need cans, pans, tubes, boxes, or "red velvet bags on a stick".

Most of the sleight of hand "moves" were learned when I was a teenager and in my early 20s. (I STUDIED Tarbell, and, practiced what I learned! --I had realized that the best way to learn magic was through BOOKS! At first, I was fascinated by the sleights, but, soon realized that, the ultimate EFFECT which the sleights could produce, were more important (at least IMO!)

In retrospect, I think that the last trick that I added, which required a "move", was the Professor's Nightmare. I spent @1.00 with my friend, Gene Gordon, in 1959, for the basic secret. (One cannot buy a TRICK!) IMO, the move looked too contrived, but the EFFECT produced was well worth working on! I was busy, and could only give limited time to "improving" the move, to my satisfaction. Then, in 1971, Karrell Fox, a fellow member of the SECRET SIX, realized that the move necessary to do the Gen Grant "50/50" C&R rope, would accomplish what was necessary for the Nightmare. He suggested that I try it. BINGO! The "PN" has been in the show since!

So! I would suggest "Festina Lente" (Latin proverb) It means, "make haste slowly"!

I would suggest that you invest in Tarbell. Also, read "Maximum Entertainment" by Ken Weber. --because, "Magic" is not inherently entertaining!

You're obviously just beginning (nothing wrong with that! we all had to begin!

One final thought! To add a trick to your repertoire, three things are necessary:

1. Learn how it is DONE.

2. Learn how to DO it.

3. (Most important!) Learn how to do it so that it ENTERTAINS AN AUDIENCE!
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
ThSecret
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Firstly thank you both for taking the time to write such detailed responses. And Dick for your service. (=

So my approach seems to be well, all I need to do is be consistent and practice, practice, practice! I also got that the trick will only get you so far, and that the approach, performance and experience (effect) are just as, if not more important. One of the very first moves I've been working on is the halo cut and I've really got it down now (I do it while watching tv shows. This also helps me learn to do it without having to look down at the deck. Next is to practice infant of a mirror.), so I'll be adding it the the trick I saw it performed with (In one of Harry Loryane's videos). I'm also trying to learn the riffle shuffle, but it's a lot more challenging. (Maybe a better cards may help though, I'll see in a few days!) I also bought a spool of IT, because I really want to learn some PK effects, and possibly some item levitations.

I was hoping to read Magic and Showmanship next, but I will also look into Maximum Entertainment!..and Tarbell as well, as it seems to be suggested as a great learning tool a lot (from what I've been reading). Are the tarbell videos just as good as the books?
Lyceum.. First time I've heard that term. I do remember the magician that performed at one of my grade school assemblies a long time ago. He did the Torn And Restore Newspaper, and Some Rope tricks ... hehe , it did have me pretty amazed!
"A play does not take place on stage but in the minds of the spectators."
funsway
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You may have heard the "practice makes perfect," and the extension, "No, perfect practice makes perfect."

but what is "perfect practice?' -- what I think you may be asking. Good!

Yet, you have limited yourself to only two options or approaches to "becoming a good magician." Both Dana and DIck have suggested alternative approaches.
You last post indicates a realization that more is involved than practicing a move or sleight.

Sooner or later you will have to perform before l live people, with each performance being a continuation of the "learn from practice" modality.
Do you select an audience known to appreciate the type of tricks you prefer (able to cooperate in an expected magic effect?"
Do you have a large number of practiced "effects" from which to choose in order to adapt to audience expectations?
Do you have planned time after each performance to appraise what occurred and make adjustments in trick selection, audience engagement, etc?

I live mentor is the ideal solution, but difficult to find/sustain. Performing for live audiences without much risk can also help (nursing homes, strangers in a park,etc.),
but the feedback may not help with you audience of choice.

Magic will occur in the minds of the observer and not at your fingertips or on a video.
Practice can increase your believing in this being possible with the selected trick, move, sleight or story line.
How to you get to the point of "knowing" that every person in the audience will walk away saying, "So that is what magic looks like?"
For this, everything you do in live is practice. The qualities of confidence, presence and congruency are not found in a book or video.

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



ShareBooks at www.eversway.com * questions at funsway@eversway.com
ThSecret
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Funsway I really like how you gave good explanations, but also posed questions, which has got me thinking outside of the box. I'm not going to worry to much about my audience just yet, but I'm glad you mentioned it as it IS something I should be thinking of. I would say having a routine and a repertoire of effects would help with the performance, but I do see what you mean by choosing effects to adapt to audience; Such I probably would not do a razor blade/needle trick with kids, maybe ropes or coins would be better suited - or ripping a news paper and restoring it as that is impossible in a child's mind, if they saw two torn pieces become one again.

I just finished watching Spidey's at The Table Lecture and I feel it has really helped me better understand the advice mentioned above in this thread. I'll use this specific example, the part where he had spectators draw images, which he places in envelopes. He then matches the spectators images to each one, after they were mixed up. Further he drew the last spectators image as a prediction. The trick in itself was cool, neat, interesting...But it was all the dialogue, conversation, foreshadowing, jokes, interaction with the spectators that ultimately created that wow EFFECT.
He can say spectator one you drew a cat. Okay cool how did he know that? ...OR he can say, I believe the image was drawn by someone who's name starts with an S, I believe by the drawing they may be a little bit of an introvert, but have close friends, they're artistic, (all the while the spectator in their mind is thinking yes, mhm,, how does he know that about me), so when he does finally reveal the drawing it is that much more astounding!

So at the end of the day its not so much being a "magician" who can do tricks, but a performer or actor or showman who is a magician.
"A play does not take place on stage but in the minds of the spectators."
danaruns
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Good example. And to see a completely different performance of that same trick, check out Rob Zabrecky's version of it, that he performed on "Fool Us."

https://youtu.be/XohbF527jN4
"Dana Douglas is the greatest magician alive. Plus, I'm drunk." -- Foster Brooks
ThSecret
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Ah yes, I recall watching that one before. It was greatly entertaining, I loved his comedic touch! Him writing on his own face was unique and funny, as Penn noted.
"A play does not take place on stage but in the minds of the spectators."
Small Hands
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I think all the suggestions from those above who have clearly above are excellent and all lead to improving one's magic and performance.

As someone who is just starting out, the one thing that I could add to the conversation for other new students that is working for me is to initially have some structure or a learning plan. I am currently following a course based on one of the more well known books often referenced here. What I found is this course starts with fundamental skills and then some tricks which reinforces those skills and then continues to build progressively. Somewhat like danaruns mentioned above, "learn some moves then some tricks which use those moves".

Even at my beginner stage, I have found that I can already see and try alternate techniques that can be used to achieve the same result or add a personal twist to a trick I am learning. All that to say that for me, having some structure and progressively building on learned skills is a better approach than watching an internet video and then trying to reproduce the trick without having developed the prerequisite skills. Simply jumping around learning sleights and tricks with no plan or understanding of what they do or relate to other moves is not effective for me.

At some point when I have developed a better range of skills, I am sure it will be rewarding to find a trick, learn it knowing I already have the required skill, or that learning it will be easier as I only have to build on something I already know.

ThSecret you are correct that everyone probably learns differently but I am sure that many new students could certainly save a lot of frustration by following some of the advice provided by "those that have gone before" that your thread generated.
ThSecret
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Are you currently mentoring students? (Just making sure I read that correctly Smile) I believe I remember reading your into... good stuff! (:

I am really grateful of all the advice and time offered by everyone here. I agree, there is some very amazing advice above! Since posting this thread I have realized some of these things and adjusted what I am doing. When I first posted this thread, I was isolating just a specific effect or sleight. Now I am thinking more about the effects which I am interested in, which kinds of tricks interest me, creating a routine with these effects - where the effects flow and complement each other, and then how to present it in a uniquely engaging way that is entertaining. I've also begun looking/thinking about appearance and scripts.

I still chose a few slights which I can practice over and over when I am free, bored, multi-tasking; like The Pass, Some False Cuts, a False Shuffle, A force or two. But I've also considered which tricks I want to do that utilize some of these moves. As well, I'm now thinking about what tricks I can do prior to or after each other; like an ambitious card before a transpo, or gypsi before thread through eye. (surely more thought will go into this, than just the above sentences, but these are some things I've been thinking about.)

I agree with your comment jumping around many sleights and effects, especially on youtube. This leaves you in a puzzled mind (at least for me) as to what I'm going to do with them. What is the purpose of all these hours of practice, what am I really trying to achieve. Why am I do it and who will want to watch it, etc.
The thing with youtube is there is so much free content, you can spend hours bouncing from video to video. This does not really help if you are new and trying to learn (although it is great entertainment). When you actually go out and purchase an effect/video/book/etc you hold more value to it, as you spend your hard earned dollar on it - this goes a long way in actually practicing it over and over, and succeeding.
"A play does not take place on stage but in the minds of the spectators."
Small Hands
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Oh gosh, no I am not qualified to mentor anyone. I am very much a novice and I probably could use a mentor.

In my somewhat rambling post I just really wanted to thank you for starting what I thought is a good thread which generated some good commentary on where to start on learning and performing magic.

I also like watching some of the videos as sometimes I just find the written description of a sleight or technique difficult to understand and when then is no other knowledgable person to consult a video can be very helpful.

As most of us beginners quickly learn at the end of the day there really is no substitue for practicing but it is always good to get advice or direction and not waste time learning something incorrectly as I find it hard to unlearn something. But it sure is a nice feeling once you understand something and it starts to work.
Ado
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Quote:
On Dec 3, 2016, ThSecret wrote:
To either pick few moves/sleights (like double cut/lift, palming, riffle shuffle, etc.) and really practice them, and then add them to which ever tricks I want to do.


What if you learn moves, but like no trick that uses them? Waste of time.
I think the answer is obvious, at least at your level.

P!
Sentoki
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I started to learn and relearn the basics in a simple but yet effectiv way. I picked those techniques used in nearly every performance, DL, False Shuffels, Controls and so on. Every day I'm practicing another of these sleights for at least two hours. In this way I got good in a short time.
I involve more special sleights not used constantly in this cycle to get my fingers used to complicated movements more and more.
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