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Justin Craddock
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buffalo,ny
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When I "practice" I am in my basement usually alone debating what I should be practicing. I just cannot seem to commit to one effect to practice and end up reading about a different effect. The only time that I feel that I am truly practicing is when I am working at the magic shop,because the people that come in want to see magic as opposed to my family. Any suggestions on what I should do or even what you do to practice.
"When a performance is over, What remains"
magicphil
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Brighton, UK
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I have the same problem as you Justin. I usually find the best way to guarantee that I practice a trick is by telling someone that I want to show them a magic trick later. Then I will go and practice the trick until it is good enough to show to them.
Jon Gallagher
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How do you practice anything? Music, martial arts, magic, shooting free throws? Repetition. It comes down to having the discipline to do it.

But getting the discipline takes motivation and that's tough, especially when you're not getting immediate rewards such as someone being fooled, or a song being played on the piano.

I have a notebook that I keep. I practice each day for 30-60 minutes. At the top of each page is the date and then I write down what I want this session to accomplish. If I'm learning a new move, I spend the first 30 minutes practicing JUST THAT MOVE. I recently learned how to do the four coin roll down. I spent every day, at least 30 minutes a day, practicing the move. I started on January 1 of this year. I finally got it so I can do it 90% of the time on March 20. Have I shown it to anyone yet? Nope. But I can do it, and that was just part of the discipline I needed to continue to learn other things.

If I'm not learning a new move, I have all of my routines written down on index cards. I pull out three or four and do the routines for an immaginary spectator, patter included, for the time period I've alloted myself. Sometimes I set up the video camera and record, then watch.

Motivation to do this is hard. Some days I don't feel like doing it. But I do it anyway because if I don't, then it will be easier to find an excuse tomorrow not to practice.

I read about an Olympic athlete once who said that during his training, he was tempted to take short cuts. But once he got in the boxing ring, if he had taken shortcuts in training, it would show in his performance. He knew that would result in pain and he was not fond of pain. We as magicians don't have to worry about getting a fist in the face if we shortcut ourselves, but psychologically, it's about the same.

My motivation is simple. I want to be the best I can be. And I don't want the pain of screwing up a routine in front of someone. Not even my daughters or wife.

We all have the same amount of time in every day. How you invest that time will result in the benefits you receive. My benefits are when I look at the faces of those I'm entertaining and get the desired results.

Try using a notebook. Don't cheat yourself.
www.jongallagher.com

Hey! I'm finally a Dot Com!
Popo
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Valparaiso, IN
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Jon, Great advice! It's good to hear this as it gets me motivated again. It is hard to keep at it and takes a lot of discipline. setting goals along with the notebook can be helpful. Set them realistically. Such as not trying to learn a new effect in a couple of weeks. Take time and know that, as Jon has said, the end result is worth every second of good, hard practice. Thanks again, Jon.
j
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Jon,
Do you find that a recorded performance is much better than a mirror? I am beginning to video tape myself and wonder if this is a worthwhile venture. Your thoughts greatly appreciated.
Man, I hope he chooses a card soon!
owen.daniel
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J,
I personally think that recording is far better. When doing magic in a miror you are watching your own actions. Doing this results in you paying attention to your hands, and looking at every move you make to make sure it is not visible. This is not good practice for the real world as it is unlikely that you are going to be looking at your hands during a performance. Therefore in my opinion it is far wiser to perform to the camera as though it is a person. Then having performed the routine, watch the video, see points at which you muck up. If the routine can be broken down into phases then practice that phase individually, and then re video it, see what it looks like now...is there a new weak point etc.

Justin,
You said that you have problems deciding what to practice and end up just looking at something new...
As Jon said part of this is about discipline. A method that I have found very usefull was in an issue in Genii Magazine. In Roberto Giobbi's Column (The Genii Sessions), there was a great method for practicing. Take an old deck of cards, and on the face of each card write the name of an effect. Give the cards a good shuffle (even though you could practice your false shuffle here, it is advisable not to if you want a random selection procedure). Take the top card and perform that routine. Going back to the videoing. Record it and watch it over...Are there mistakes etc. etc.
As Jon suggested keeping a note book is a good idea. Again like with the video, note down a part of the routine you are having problems with, this way you can refer back to it at a later time. This is also a confidence booster. if you look over a notebook from two years ago. You see that on June 9th 2002 you had problems performing the Spread Cull, you can now laugh at yourself "Ha, to imagine that I had a problem with that!"...This way you can see your progression. Now two years on you look at your book, you write in "...having problems with side steal..." Maybe, just maybe you will look back in a couple of years and say "Side Steal, how could any one find that difficult!"
Owen
magia355
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I use recording, both for stage and close-up routines. This method has served me well that abled me to produce the method of delivery I was looking for a particular show. If you decide to tape yourself, make sure that you run thru the complete performance even if you make mistakes. When I started using the recording method, I found myself stoping and starting the video recorder too many times. Let it run, see the recording, critique yourself, fix the mistakes and try it again.
Stephen Barney
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Most of the time I tend to stand in front of a mirror to practice but video is a good way of working out the errors and back tracking.

I think one of the most difficult things is to find the dead spots that need to be livened up these are only apparent when you are in full patter and getting the reaction from the audience. This is of course not possible in a practice studio so I resort to videos of real performance and having a friend watch and disassemble it with me latter. I recently found a big dead spot in one routine I have been doing for ages during a card signing and have started using a joke to spice the moment. It seems to be working well.

remember you cant practice enough!
Bill Thomas
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Jon Gallagher

Excellent Post! Thanks for sharing.

Bill
Jon Gallagher
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Quote:
On 2004-05-10 15:17, j wrote:
Jon,
Do you find that a recorded performance is much better than a mirror? I am beginning to video tape myself and wonder if this is a worthwhile venture. Your thoughts greatly appreciated.


First, let me apologize for not answering your question right away. My duties here at the Café allow me to read respond to posts, but often I forget where I've posted something until I'm in the area checking for grammar and spelling again.

I hardly use mirrors at all anymore. The reason is because Bob Bengel, said once during a lecture, that we tend to close our eyes at the exact moment that we do a sleight, therefore we miss it ourselves and tend to convince ourselves that others missed it too. The video camera doesn't blink at the in opportune moment. It is brutally honest and that's why it's hard for some magicians to work in front of one.

It is also impossible to misdirect a video camera. Therefore, your sleights have to be "right on" or the camera will pick them up. You can misdirect people watching the video afterwards, but the camera will not lie.

The camera has allowed me to sit there and say, "Gee, I need some really strong misdirection at this point," or "I need to toss out a joke there." I wish that I'd had a camera available 30 years ago when I first started doing magic. I'd be a much more sound technical magician, and a better one all around.

Thanks to all who have had some nice words concerning my post. I appreciate the words.

-Jon
www.jongallagher.com

Hey! I'm finally a Dot Com!
owen.daniel
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I too have been told about the shutting of the eyes... I never used to use a practice mirror, and do not have a video cammera...
I recently started using a mirror, but I think that because I never used to shut my eyes (no mirror, no need) I do not suffer the "Shut Eye Syndrome"!
Of course a video cammera is going to give a more accurate representation, but you will not be able to see some of the more diverse angles, which maybe you might turn towards in front of a mirror...Of course you could just turn towards the cammera...
owen
Stephen Barney
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A camera is definetly the best way. It catches all the wrinkles. One tip if you practice in front of a camera: if you don't have more than one camera, move it around and film from different angles. We tend to play directly ito a camera and so will only see the best angles. It is good to move the camera into awkward positions and catch the angles. After all the audience is often all round. You try to get footage from all these angles to see if there are angles to avoid or improvements that make the angles less important.
Razzle Dazzle
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Houston,Texas
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Wow, there are some great suggestions here. I usually just go into my bedroom, shut the door, and make sure there are no distractions. No television playing, etc., and do the piece I'm working on over and over, both in front of the mirror and without. I really haven't used a video camera much as a practice tool, but I think I'll give it a try.
Peace,
Alex Martin
prettylady1990
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I like magicphil's idea, which I also do.
Dakota Rose
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Dakota Rose
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I always record my practice. The video shows everything. One thing I have noticed about some of the shows I see, is that the magic may be fantastic, but the transitions between effects can really make or break an act.

Sometimes, it's hard, even watching the video, to really SEE what you are doing. I tend to focus just on my magic and not everything else. I have to try hard to keep my mind open and really SEE the WHOLE picture.

Dakota Rose
Dream things that never were and say, "Why not."



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The Magician
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Mr Jon Gallagher, That was a superb post and an enjoyable read and your advice will certainly help me. Thanks.
The Magician

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Gerald
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Texas
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If you are interested in practice techniques, you might want to have a look at the discussions about "The Ostrich Factor: A Practice Guide for Magicians" at: http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewt......0&20

You can also do a search on this forum and find other threads that discuss the book.

Good luck!
Gerald
ed rhodes
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Quote:
On 2004-04-09 10:10, Justin Craddock wrote:
When I "practice" I am in my basement usually alone debating what I should be praticing. I just cannot seem to commit to one effect to practice and end up reading about a different effect. The only time that I feel that I am truly practicing is when I am working at the magic shop,because the people that come in want to see magic as opposed to my family. Any suggestions on what I should do or even what you do to practice.



Can I get an AMEN? Yeah, I've sat in my study wondering what I should be doing or if I have everything together! I haven't seriously practiced in way w a y too long! (I also haven't performed more than a sponge ball routine, which I do practice every where I go, but that's not the same thing!)
"All the world's a stage, but the play is badly cast!" - Oscar Wilde
Gerald
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It is important to set a goal. If your goal is to become a performer, practice and rehearse to achieve that goal. Work to build a complete, definite act. Don’t spend all your time on the latest “hot” trick or move. Many times, “plaything” tricks are worthless as performance pieces. Select classic plots and basic sleights. Prepare all the elements necessary for a skilled, creative, entertaining performance. Get a qualified mentor to advise you.

Gerald
onezero1
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Quote:
On 2005-07-10 08:48, Gerald wrote:
Don’t spend all your time on the latest “hot” trick or move. Many times, “plaything” tricks are worthless as performance pieces.
Gerald


It's a vortex, it sucks you in because it is endless. And it's fun, so it's easy to just slip into doing it all the time. It was cards for me, I nearly went under. Then I read the actor-magician essays and started to smell a rat in my magical practice.
'though it stands to reason that a samurai should be mindful of the Way...it would seem that we are all negligent.
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