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Seattle, WA
14 Posts

Profile of magicshowprod

I have read and/or collecting every good magic book that I have come across. But, strangely enough, that does not include the Tarbell Course in Magic. And so I thought I would stop by and ask those of you who own or have read the course a question or two.

I know, this is probably blasphemous, so please forgive me for asking, but is the course still relevant to today's magician. I realize magic and the many phases of magic are an ancient art and it seems like changes are few and far between (though the new "electrical" magic is pretty exciting)but I was wondering how much knowledge could be gleaned from this set now days.

Now mind you, I have been doing magic since the early 70's and I learn more each and every day. And I hope to keep on learning until the day I'm asked to sit down my sponge balls and take that big escalator up into the clouds (And if it's an elevator lets hope it's the up arrow that is lit), so I am always ready for more knowledge. But this set can be expensive. So, in short, is this still a great course in magic or a wonderful piece of magic history that is fascinating to own (or both)?

Thanks so much for your thoughts on this!

Don Schockow
Magic Show Productions
Don Schockow
Magic Show Productions
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Loyal user
Portland, Oregon
286 Posts

Profile of ekins
Hi Don,

I remembered your question being asked before and did a search and found several topics with similar questions. Here are four, but there are probably several others too.

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Inner circle
1362 Posts

Profile of Anatole
I checked Brian's links to see if I could find what I thought was a message I had posted about The Tarbell Course in Magic and couldn't find one. So here goes...

Legend has it that "there is nothing new under the sun." But if that were true, the world would be a pretty boring place.

The history of art is replete with classic themes that are constantly reborn with a little imagination. Certain themes (e.g. "Madonna and Child"; scenes from mythology; sunrises amd sunsets; lighthouses; etc etc etc) lend themselves to constant reinterpretation/reimagination.

When one evolves from a magician who does a trick exactly the way it is taught in a book or in the instructions that come with an off-the-shelf trick into a magician who gives the trick a personal stamp, the trick becomes something special and personal. The Tarbell Course can be a starting point for the individual's own imagination.

Take a look at the opening effect of my card flourishes act here:

The effect in that video of a deck rising out of a card box is Lou Tannen's "Pack Full of Pep" from Volume 2 of _The Tarbell Course in Magic_. In the video, I use it for a silent manipulation act. But I have also used it as the opening effect in a close-up talk act. I tweaked the making of the card box slightly, but essentially it is the trick as described by Tarbell. When I do "Pack Full of Pep" in a close-up act, I ask a spectator to point at the card case and _then_ the deck rises out of the box, thereby giving the effect a minimal but still somewhat original and intriguing aspect of "audience participation"--like giving someone the magic wand to tap a cup in the Cups and Balls to make a ball appear under it.

The Tarbell Course also has stand-alone moves that can be incorporated into routines from other sources. Volume 4, for instance, has Tommy Dowd's "Spinning Ring Unlink" which is prresented as a move that is intended to be incorporated into a more standard, classic routine. Audley Walsh's Long Distance Spinner in the same volume is described as a flourish, but I use it as part of a routine where I shuffle the four aces into the deck and then make the aces fly out of the deck one by one.

I think of The Tarbell Course as an encyclopedia. I would guess that 90% of the articles in an encyclopedia have no relevance to anything one would want one for. But it is still a valuable resource to have that can spark the imagination and lead you to investigate a topic in more depth, prompting you to go to a library or bookstore to find more information. And sometimes a subject that you never thought you would be interested in becomes a new passion serendipitously just by chancing upon it while casually turning the pages of a volume you took off the shelf out of curiosity--or boredom.

----- Amado "Sonny" Narvaez
----- Sonny Narvaez
Dick Oslund
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Inner circle
3725 Posts

Profile of Dick Oslund
I said recently in "a" thread, that "half of my act" (quite possible more than half!) came from Doc's course. When I was starting out, as a teen, the tricks was pretty much "out of the box".

With performing experience, they slowly became (at least in MY mind) fine, funny, entertaining, parts of my show.

I honestly don't know how I could have succeeded without them. Yes, read, no, study, Tarbell. Ignore the ARCHAIC patter, but, absorb the PRINCIPLES.
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