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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » New to magic? » » Practice Practice Practice (4 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

_Trickstar_
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I'm trying to improve my card mechanics, so I was wondering how do you schedule your practice?

When I'm practicing a move I'm doing it consistently, until my hands get numb sometimes for 5+ hours, I'm starting to think this isn't the best way and I should take breaks,

should you only practice 1 move or multiple?
davidpaul$
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I sometimes practice in the context of a routine that utilizes several moves. For example: Paul Harris' Tap Dancing Aces and
J.C. Wagner's Dyslexic Queens. That way you can learn timing, transitioning that has meaning and a certain flow and speed.
Plus it's more fun imo. I do practice the DL, Classic Pass and some other sleights while I'm watching TV to make them second nature in regards to muscle memory.

I perform quite allot during the week so that helps tremendously. Always have a deck with you or accessible and practice.
BUT enjoy and make it FUN!
If you can't help worrying, remember worrying can't help you!
_Trickstar_
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I do often do that i'[m just wondering if I should put the deck of cards down at any point and let my hands rest?
Doug Trouten
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You might find that you make more progress by breaking your practice sessions up. Frequency and duration are both factors in determining an effective practice routine. You might try doing some serious, focused practice for a half-hour or hour, taking a break, and then coming back to it later in the day. You're working to create muscle memory, but muscle memory isn't really in your muscles -- it's in your brain. You want to give your brain some time to absorb the lessons. At some point, more isn't better.

Here's an article that makes some interesting points:
http://blog.magicshop.co.uk/2012/09/lear......-to.html
It's still magic even if you know how it's done.
Terry Pratchett
jljones83
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I don't think that the 5+ hour sessions are good for you in the long run. Fatigue and pain in the hands. What works for me (and feel free to ignore me, I am by no means an expert on this, just personal opinion) is shorter sessions working on a specific move to learn that move, and then as Davidpaul$ said, working on the flow of a routine to put the move in context and practice the flow once I have the move to where I can use it.
I don't like practicing a new move in the context of a routine until I have the mechanics down a bit so I don't feel like the new move is a 'speedbump' that keeps stopping me or slowing me down in routine practice.
Terrible Wizard
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There's a good case to be made for 'massed learning/practice', which some studies have shown to be very effective. In other words, twenty hours of practising the same thing in a block or two can be much more effective than twenty hours of practice spread over a few weeks.
RobertlewisIR
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The important thing to remember is that practice doesn't make perfect; practice makes permanent. Only perfect practice makes perfect.

So if you bust your knuckles for five hours until your hands hurt, you're probably not getting anything valuable anymore. If you want to keep working all five hours, best to work on several different things during those five hours, giving each set of muscles a rest in between.
~Bob



----------



Last night, I dreamed I ate the world's largest marshmallow. When I woke up, the pillow was gone.
Doug Trouten
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If you want to research this a bit, one good search term is "massed practice," The other approach is called "spaced practice" or "distributed practice." You'll find that much of the research suggests that spaced practice is more effective.

Some links:

http://www.mempowered.com/strategies/spacing

https://www.dartmouth.edu/~cogedlab/pubs......BBS).pdf

https://www.gwern.net/Spaced%20repetition#motor-skills
It's still magic even if you know how it's done.
Terry Pratchett
Chatterbox41
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I believe in diminished returns with long practice sessions... that is I find I make progress, and then suddenly it starts getting sloppy. The natural tendency is to say"When I do 5 more good ones, I'll take a break," but if I stop when it starts going south and come back to it the next day I will pick up where I left off.

RobertlewisIR is right... practice makes permanent... make sure it's right!

Gary
algebraic
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I like to look at professional athletes and how they practice. They don't practice one particular aspect of their game for 5 hours straight. They may practice for 5 hours but not just one skill set. That's my 2 cents.
Nickoli Sharpe
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Yup just like an athlete your training
Not really practicing
Block out time for each effect your working on.
Mix it up
Wilktone
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I'm a magic hobbyist, but back when I was an academic I did conduct some research into the development of motor skills, specifically relating to music instrument technique. I think it's likely that we can extrapolate how musicians (and athletes) develop motor skills into developing sleight of hand skills.

Quote:
On May 13, 2017, _Trickstar_ wrote:
When I'm practicing a move I'm doing it consistently, until my hands get numb sometimes for 5+ hours, I'm starting to think this isn't the best way and I should take breaks,


I would say that if your hands are getting numb you're over practicing. I recommend that you stop prior to feeling any sort of fatigue whatsoever. At the very least, when fatigue sets in you're more likely to begin engaging in sloppy technique and any practice at that point might be reinforcing something that you want to avoid. At worst you're risking some repetitive stress injuries.

Quote:
should you only practice 1 move or multiple?


That perhaps depends on the technique you're practicing and your level of fatigue, but I would generally recommend picking moves that you want to learn or that are necessary in routines you're working on and structuring your practice so that you at least touch on all of them in some sort of cycle, perhaps focusing more on the ones that you're still struggling with.

More importantly, structure your practice in such a way that you get the chance to evaluate how you're doing and focus on specific elements that you need to work on, rather than receptively running the same sleight over and over again. Watch yourself in the mirror and video record your practice. Find what looks good and what needs work and practice to specifically maintain the good parts and specifically to improve the weaker elements. There's a lot to be said for much repetition, but focused practice is going to be more productive in the long term than mindless repetition.

That's not to say that less focused repetition for its own sake is bad, provided that you have paid your dues developing the technique correctly. Beware of watching TV and making the same move over and over again until you already know that you've got a good foundation.

Quote:
On May 13, 2017, Doug Trouten wrote:
Here's an article that makes some interesting points:
http://blog.magicshop.co.uk/2012/09/lear......-to.html


That's a good one. I think it's worth a read if you've missed it.

Quote:
On May 15, 2017, Terrible Wizard wrote:
There's a good case to be made for 'massed learning/practice', which some studies have shown to be very effective. In other words, twenty hours of practising the same thing in a block or two can be much more effective than twenty hours of practice spread over a few weeks.


That's interesting to me, since it is opposite of what I've found in my own practice and the research I've read. Can you be more specific about where you saw this?

For the record, I don't think massed practice is necessarily bad, but it depends on the current abilities of the performer and their level of focus during those practice sessions. When I practice for long blocks I make a point to take many short rests throughout.

Quote:
On May 15, 2017, Doug Trouten wrote:
If you want to research this a bit, one good search term is "massed practice," The other approach is called "spaced practice" or "distributed practice." You'll find that much of the research suggests that spaced practice is more effective.

Some links:

http://www.mempowered.com/strategies/spacing

https://www.dartmouth.edu/~cogedlab/pubs......BBS).pdf

https://www.gwern.net/Spaced%20repetition#motor-skills


I found these resources very interesting and appreciated that they cited sources. In my opinion the authors did their homework and have taken a lot of care to fully understand the implications of their research. It's worth heeding their advice.

It seems also that the personal experiences of most of the folks here is that it's best to take breaks in your practice and think more about longer term progress, rather than trying to make improvements as quickly as possible. If you go down the wrong path, you'll waste time backtracking and it's probably better to practice smart, rather than "hard."

Good luck!

Dave
P.L.Green
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My half-a-cent: I have just started with card magic so my comment is probably not useful for you, but might be for newcomers. I always try to practice three sleights on every session: one that I am just starting (and do slowly and paying attention to finger placement, etc.); one that I kind of know, where I concentrate in flow (usually with a mirror in front) and then one that I "totally" control, and this one I incorporate into a trick. This helps me not to get bored and end each practice with a sense of accomplishment.
Can you keep a secret?.....So can I ;o)
Doug Trouten
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P.L. -- Your "three sleights" approach makes a lot of sense. It reminds us that there is a sort of life cycle in learning a sleight. It's like learning any physical skill, like walking. First we move very slowly, taking great care to put our feet in the right place and not trip ourselves up. Then we gain confidence and work on walking more smoothly. Finally, we walk because we're going somewhere.
It's still magic even if you know how it's done.
Terry Pratchett
Dick Oslund
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I'm definitely NOT a CARDICIAN, but, most of my repertoire requires sleights and/or hand skills. I'm retired from about 70 years of performing (50 years as a full time professional).

When I was "breaking in", in the mid '40s, it appears that I was using, without realizing it, at 13-15, the techniques suggested in the links provided by Doug Trouten! Those techniques WORKED! (at least for ME, and, I would think that they would work for almost anyone. Of course, it definitely would help, IMO, if the learner has some native talent!

Doug is a college professor. I "aint"! Considering my personal experience and Doug's educational and background experience, I would encourage the OP to give consideration to the information in the links provided by the Honorable Doug Trouten.

IMO, friends Green, Wilktone, DavidPaul$, and RobertLewisIR also offered some very worthwhile thoughts.

IMO, magic "is" 5% sensory illusion, 5% esoteric principles of science, 5% sleight of hand skills, PLUS, 85% PSYCHOLOGY!

So, _TRICKSTAR_! keeping in mind, my last sentence above, I recommend that along with the hand skills, you also need to learn about sensory illusion, science principles, and, PSYCHOLOGY!

I stress this because MAGIC IS NOT INHERENTLY ENTERTAINING. --"It aint WHAT ya DO, it's HOW ya DO it!" is the old professional's colorful way of stressing PRESENTATION!
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Doug Trouten
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Well said, Dick. An engaging book for learning about some of the things Dick mentioned is "Sleights of Mind" by Stephen Macknik and Susana Martinez-Conde. They're both big-deal Harvard type neuroscientists, but their book is very accessible and entertaining.
It's still magic even if you know how it's done.
Terry Pratchett
_Trickstar_
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I Appreciate everyone comments, thank you verymcuh, I've started doing 1 hour sessions my hands are feeling better,
ParkinT
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Quote:
On May 13, 2017, davidpaul$ wrote:
I sometimes practice in the context of a routine that utilizes several moves.

This is very good advice.
Personally, I have taken the set of sleights (moves) I wish to improve or master and built them INTO a routine. This is not a routine I would show to an audience but, rather, a set of moves in succession.
If I practice a pass followed by a double-lift and then a control (for example) it allows me to focus on those things I feel need the most work.

I agree with all that has been offered here (above). Don't overdo it. Pace yourself. Persistence is the most important aspect.
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