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Porridge
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Do you think it is a good idea to perform sleight of hand card tricks for family members, even if you're not completely confident in your technique?

Is it a good way to practice, even if you make a mistake?

Several times, my family have caught me doing my moves, and I think this might ruin the impact and wonder of the tricks when I do eventually master them.
Dick Oslund
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You've answered your own question.
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
danaruns
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As often is the case, I'm going to disagree with Dick. Sort of. He was a little too glib in his answer, but he has the right sentiment.

We all need "safe" audiences to be the first folks to see our new stuff. That usually means friends and family. So yes, I think it's good and necessary to perform for family, even if you're not "completely confident." By definition, you're not "completely confident" the first time you try something for people.

HOWEVER -- and this is a big however -- you shouldn't be performing for anyone until you feel you have the material down so that you can manage the sleights reliably and without thinking about it. When you're performing, your muscle memory has to take over, and your brain has to be free to interact with the people. I know there's a big urge to perform for family the moment you are able to do some new thing for the first time. But resist that urge. Because at that point, you and Dick are right, you're just going to ruin things for your audience. Practice. Be patient. Get it down.

But someone has to be the first to see a new trick. And the first few times you do something for human beings you stand the greatest chance of screwing it up. It's almost inevitable that you'll screw up a trick at some point for your initial audience. So why wouldn't you wait until you give yourself -- and your audience -- the best chance for success?

One rule to keep in mind is this: RESPECT YOUR AUDIENCE, even family members. Maybe especially family members. And that means not performing for them until you can do the sleights reliably. Fumbling through something you can't really do is not respecting your audience. It's being boring and trying.

The old saying is to practice the moves until you can do them right, then keep practicing them until you can't do them wrong. A more practical version of it that I follow is to practice until you can do the moves, then keep practicing until you can do them with your eyes closed and while reciting a memorized poem. Only then are you ready to try it out for family. And you're not ready to do it for Muggles until it is completely muscle memory. Because your main task when performing for people is to entertain them. You have to control your audience, you have to recite a script, you have to deal with hecklers and things that go wrong, and you have to be entertaining. You can't do that and get through the sleights unless the sleights have been reduced to muscle memory.

But there's something else in your post. You talked about family having "caught" you doing your moves. You're also going to want to shut down the dynamic where they think it's a contest as to whether or not they can bust you on something. That's unhealthy. And frankly, once you expose a move, they will forever be able to spot it, even if you do it well. A DL, for instance, is a move that can easily be spotted even if you perform it perfectly, if the spectator knows what a DL is. So here's another lesson to learn: Once they bust you on a move, that move may be forever ruined, no matter how well you learn to do it. So do it well enough the first time that they never learn the move and you preserve it for the future. After all, there really aren't all that many moves to have. Another reason not to perform for them until the sleights are reliable.

When performing for family, your concerns should be script, presentation, rhythm, timing and entertainment. Not whether or not you can stumble through a sleight.
"Dana Douglas is the greatest magician alive. Plus, I'm drunk." -- Foster Brooks
55Hudson
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Family is often the most difficult audience; because they know you so well, they can sense when you are doing something different, or sneaky. They should be your final test, not your first test.

Like Dana said, don't dry run before you really have the trick down.

Hudson
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You got some good suggestions already. Like mentioned above, family is great to practice with and help you get more comfortable with the idea of performing in front of real people. The drawback is that they know you are probably going to try to do something sneaky and thus they were be extra weary of what you are doing. Then it also depends on your family members, some people like to try to "bust" the magician, others may actually want to be entertained and will be an easier audience.

As for your specific question, I would say that you should not be performing for other persons unless you are confident you know the effect/trick with your eyes closed and won't mess up. Until you get to the point where you are confident you can perform the trick/sleight/effect without exposing it, you should keep practicing until you can by yourself. (in my opinion.).

Once you're are completely confident in your skills, then let your family be your test to see if they can offer advice or if they are able to see anything they should not be able to see. Another thing to consider... are you just doing the sleight or trick for your family, or are you actually practicing engaging them, creating a scenario or story, bringing your effect to life?
"A play does not take place on stage but in the minds of the spectators."
mrsmiles
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Once you have learnt the moves well enough, the next place to get experience in performing & executing your routines successfully is charities, churches, & community groups. These can often be better than family! Be open with them and say you are a new magician looking to gain more experience and offer to perform for free. These audiences will present you with a different dynamic to performing to family. Harder in that you may initially be a little more nervous (which is why you should master the moves first) but - this is the good news - easier in that they may well be more respectful in terms of not heckling, busting your moves, asking to inspect your props & your hands after every single phase etc (friends & family are notorious for this!). Because of the natural amount of environmental distraction at a live gig, you may find it easier to get away with moves anyway and be able to take advantage of natural misdirection in the environment. Good luck!
mrsmiles
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GreenKnight33
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Great advice. Especially the balancing act that danaruns laid out. Personally, I perform for family and friends once a year at Christmas. I take an entire year to choose the three tricks, write the script, memorize the script, and do about 100 dry run throughs before anyone sees it. By then I can go on autopilot and really spin the story and be present with the audience.
Russo
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Mark Wilson once said - don't worry about changing your routine and/or getting NEW tricks all the time - The MORE you do an effect / routine the BETTER you get.- Maybe introduce a little change now and then - Ive done the SAME 30 minute show for 40 YEARS - no complaints - though if I taped the first time I did it and 30 years later - it would be a bit different. Ralph(russo)Rousseau
Doug Trouten
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If you want to be good, you need to find places to be bad.
It's still magic even if you know how it's done.
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Porridge
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Quote:
On Dec 21, 2016, danaruns wrote:


HOWEVER -- and this is a big however -- you shouldn't be performing for anyone until you feel you have the material down so that you can manage the sleights reliably and without thinking about it. Get it down.

But someone has to be the first to see a new trick. And the first few times you do something for human beings you stand the greatest chance of screwing it up. It's almost inevitable that you'll screw up a trick at some point for your initial audience. So why wouldn't you wait until you give yourself -- and your audience -- the best chance for success?

One rule to keep in mind is this: RESPECT YOUR AUDIENCE, even family members. Maybe especially family members. And that means not performing for them until you can do the sleights reliably. Fumbling through something you can't really do is not respecting your audience. It's being boring and trying.

But there's something else in your post. You talked about family having "caught" you doing your moves. You're also going to want to shut down the dynamic where they think it's a contest as to whether or not they can bust you on something.

When performing for family, your concerns should be script, presentation, rhythm, timing and entertainment. Not whether or not you can stumble through a sleight.


Muggles, hahaha.

Great advice, thank you for writing that out for me.

Your post made sense to me, because there are some moves that I am easily familiar with, and can perform "While reciting poetry", and others that I can't. So obviously, I need more practice on those moves.

AS for the family trying to catch me screwing up, that dynamic is hard to remove. They know I'm into card sleights, they know I'm doing SOMETHING that is deceptive, and they are always trying to catch me.

Not sure how to change that vibe.
Aus
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Quote:
On Dec 22, 2016, Porridge wrote:
Quote:
On Dec 22, 2016, GreenKnight33 wrote:
Great advice. Especially the balancing act that danaruns laid out. Personally, I perform for family and friends once a year at Christmas. I take an entire year to choose the three tricks, write the script, memorize the script, and do about 100 dry run throughs before anyone sees it. By then I can go on autopilot and really spin the story and be present with the audience.


I don't really have a "script" for performing for family, because I know them so well and they know I don't talk like that normally.

The script is basically "choose a card.. okay, I'm going to shuffle the deck... was that your card?" Smile


Only to happy to offer suggestions on scripting if you need some help Porridge on that front which Iv done for others in the past. Shoot me a pm and we can get the ball rolling.

Magically

Aus
Aus
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In your own time 👍
GreenKnight33
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Aus has reviewed some of my scripts and has offered helpful comments, questions, and suggestions that have improved the overall presentation. In your own time, but just my two cents.
Doug Trouten
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Porridge, if the current dynamic with your family is "I'll do a trick and you try to catch me," you might try changing that dynamic with a few sleight-free tricks where there's nothing to catch.

You might also beef up the presentation and script. Right now you're not giving them enough to think about, so they can focus all of their attention on your hands. Engage them, distract them, overload them. Few sleights can survive the undivided attention of a spectator, so divide their attention.
It's still magic even if you know how it's done.
Terry Pratchett
Porridge
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Quote:
On Dec 22, 2016, Doug Trouten wrote:
Porridge, if the current dynamic with your family is "I'll do a trick and you try to catch me," you might try changing that dynamic with a few sleight-free tricks where there's nothing to catch.

You might also beef up the presentation and script. Right now you're not giving them enough to think about, so they can focus all of their attention on your hands. Engage them, distract them, overload them. Few sleights can survive the undivided attention of a spectator, so divide their attention.


Is there such a thing as a sleight free trick? Smile
Aus
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Selfworking might be a better term but there are tricks that do give the appearance of slight of hand when in fact there isn't any. It might be a good time to make a change with some selfworking tricks which would give you dexterity a rest and an opportunity to flex your creative side in terms of presentation.

Magically

Aus
TJ Fritts
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Lots of them, they've called "self-working tricks" and there are hundreds of thousands of them.
Porridge
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I used to know a trick like that, based on mathematics, where you place 3 rows of cards down, and you can guess the chosen card by asking a series of questions.

I didn't know there are thousands of those though.

Would you consider tricks done with a key card to be self working?
TJ Fritts
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I consider any trick that doesn't require sleight of hand to be self working. So yes, Key card effects, Cut to Aces, and thousands of others require presentation skill but no sleight skill. They allow you to get a feel for performance while you're practicing your Herrmann, Classic, Palm, controls, etc.
Aus
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Sure Key card tricks can be self-working, just depends on how elaborate the key card plays, get yourself Self-Working Card Tricks by karl Fulves which can now be purchased as a download from the publisher for $5.56: http://store.doverpublications.com/0486233340.html

Once you get it look for Gemini Twins, it's of the key card verity.

Look up the author Nick Trost when looking for magic books he was know for subtlety rather then slight of hand.

Then we have World's Greatest Magic dvd series by L&L publishing which I believe is three volumes of DVD.

Big Blind Media put a series of DVDs out as part of the Ultimate Self Working Card Tricks collection, I believe that's a three volume series as well.

Just do a search and you'll find plenty.

Magically

Aus
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