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Profile of Gerald
I believe Gaddy is right. Of course, "Different strokes for different folks.” But you get a feel for the pacing, attention control, misdirection, patter, etc. when practicing a sleight within the context of a trick. This "feel" for the sleight can then be transferred to other tricks. Elements may change with another trick, but you aren't starting at square one.

It’s a good idea to not try to learn every “new” sleight that comes along. Learn tricks that employ basic, classic, time-tested sleights. Many times, new sleights use contrived, complicated, unnatural movements, have angle problems, and are simply not worth the time to learn. There are exceptions, but they are few and far between. Chances are there are more natural, practical basic sleights that accomplish the same thing.

It may sound as if I’m opposed to modern pathways of thought. Nothing could be further from the truth. But if you are performing for the public, you’ll find that most of the time, time-tested sleights and handlings will be much more successful than the “latest and greatest" "new method".

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Profile of randomwraith
I think practising sleights is akin to practising scales in music. But just as scales are only a component of a composition, so it is that sleights are only a part of a magic routine. One has to practise the whole piece not just the bit on which it's based - just as scales by themselves won't make you a musician, sleights by themselves won't make you a magician.

There is also a lot to be said for not stopping and restarting when you make a mistake during practise. Again, using the music analogy, all too often people get very good at the first part of the piece, but not so good with the last part. This might sound odd in terms of magic, but you can still go through the motions, the patter and the actions even if you messed up an earlier part of the routine you're practising.

There are many excellent "how to learn" resources on the internet, but more often than not they utilise some form of the "Pomodoro Technique". This is basically: 25 minutes intense work followed by a 5 minute break; repeat three or four times; have a 1/2 hour break.

@Nikodemus - thanks for posting the book suggestion (PERFECT PRACTICE by Doug Lemov).

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Profile of rickreation
Wonderful thread, and so great that the Ostrich Factor is a still available. Just bought a copy. Thanks for the tips, all!
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