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Topic: Advice please?
Message: Posted by: FatTony (Dec 21, 2005 08:59PM)
First, a little background about myself. I am 22 years old, and I have been performing magic for about four months. It's not long, but I have been quite diligent in my studies. I have performed for strangers many times in several venues, including on the streets and on a college campus, in bars, and at corporate and private parties. I have had my first two paying gigs in the past month, a corporate party and a private party, both of which went well.

Now, as to my question. I have been given the opportunity to perform my third paying gig, at a child's birthday party. I am not sure of the exact location of the party, but it should take place around three weeks from today and the audience will be mostly children of ages 10-14. I have not given any answer whether or not I will be able to do the gig.

I have a few concerns. First, I have not had experience performing for an audience composed of mostly children. The corporate gig was a dinner-style party, where each family sat at tables and I hopped from table to table. There were many children there, but I didn't have to occupy them all at one time. Secondly, I am concerned that most of my material is not the best for children. As I have been studying magic for four months, a large majority of my effects are with cards.

As it is, the only material I can perform that I feel is appropriate for children would be a sponge ball routine, D'Lites, and a few visual card effects.

Can any one give me any advice on what material I could work into my routine in three weeks that would be suitable? Also, what factors should I take into consideration before deciding to do this gig? I'm sorry if this has been discussed in the forums before, but it's hard to find answers to specifics just by searching for a phrase or phrases.

Thank you in advance.

Message: Posted by: Frank Tougas (Dec 21, 2005 11:55PM)
Difficult as three weeks is pretty short. Many magicians see children's magic as an add on and only later realize it is a specialty taking at least as much effort as card work, coins, close-up, to learn and present properly.

You will need to be interactive and a quick study at best. If you plan on really taking on the task I would do something like Pom Pon Prayer Sticks, something silly like the Vanishing Bandana, and Don Alan Egg Can. These are all standard issue, relatively easy to do and have much of their comedic value built into the premise of the trick itself.

Hopefully you can get to the kids level without talking down to them (they hate that). Hope you don't run into any problem kids as you do not have the experience necessary for good kid audience management.

Children's magic is a very VERY rewarding part of the magic spectrum. Not nearly as glamourous as doing corporate work or full stage shows but lucrative and you may find it is your calling.

Wish I could help more - but good luck to you in any case.

Frank Tougas
Message: Posted by: S2000magician (Dec 22, 2005 01:27AM)
I would add a warning here: ten-to-fourteen-year-olds compose probably the toughest crowd for whom to work. They're old enough to resent being fooled - [b][i]we're not little kids, you know![/i][/b] - but not old enough to appreciate fully that a magic show is not intended as an adversarial confrontation. You're going to have a difficult time maintaining control; if you lose it you probably have no hope of getting it back.

I would be quite chary about accepting this gig if I had only four months' experience. I would if I had four [b][i]years'[/i][/b] experience, including some time performing for younger audiences.

I don't mean to discourage your ambition, only to let you know that this is no easy assignment.
Message: Posted by: mrmystic (Dec 22, 2005 08:43AM)
I agree 10 to 14 year olds is not a "kids" audience. I would do it for the experience and not charge them. The sponge balls go over with everyone if done right from 3 to 103. I would do your strongest stuff, these kids are old enough to get card tricks and some of them will offer to show you some. Don't get upset if don't act the way you expect, learn from it. Treat them as you would want to be treated and you will all have a good time. Let us know how it goes.
Message: Posted by: Skip Way (Dec 22, 2005 09:17AM)
To chime in with everyone else...I generally approach this age group with an informal, let's-sit-on-the-floor-and-chat magic class. Prepare a few easy-to-do magic tricks from things around the average household. This age wants to be the "Star of the Show" and will heckle the snot out of anyone who dares to challenge that expectation. They will rarely sit passively and allow themselves to be entertained...even with the most entertaining magician.

There are some great kid's magic books available at Barnes & Nobles and Borders to give you some ideas. Prepare a one or two page set of instructions for your magic trick class...with your contact information properly emblazoned on each page, of course. Be prepared to sit through several really long and boring card tricks as they show you their "great" stuff.

Or...you can borrow my other technique...and refer them to your more tolerant and less picky peers. :o)

Keep the whip and chair handy...just in case.
Message: Posted by: S2000magician (Dec 22, 2005 01:09PM)
[quote]On 2005-12-22 09:43, mrmystic wrote:
. . . and some of them will offer to show you some.[/quote]
Very true - I should have mentioned this myself.

When I've performed for this age group and have had one of the young gentlemen (or, much more rarely, young ladies) offer to show me something, I've conceded the floor to him, even offering him my deck of cards, for example. I tell the audience that I get paid the same whether I'm doing the magic or they are, and that I enjoy seeing what budding magicians can do.

Whatever you do, avoid turning it into [b][i]dueling magicians[/i][/b], and do not criticize their presentation. Enjoy what they do as an uncle might, then ask for the floor and continue with your routine. You'll generally find that if you concede the floor graciously you can regain it easily after one effect. Make sure, if you do this, that you make it clear that you are continuing the routine that [b][i]you had already planned[/i][/b], and that you are not trying to show up the young magician.

As a final thought: avoid gaffs. If they suspect one they'll be relentless, and if you're caught with one you'll lose control instantly.
Message: Posted by: S2000magician (Dec 22, 2005 01:24PM)
[quote]On 2005-12-22 10:17, Skip Way wrote:
To chime in with everyone else...I generally approach this age group with an informal, let's-sit-on-the-floor-and-chat magic class. Prepare a few easy-to-do magic tricks from things around the average household. This age wants to be the "Star of the Show" and will heckle the snot out of anyone who dares to challenge that expectation.[/quote]
This is a great approach.

A few years ago I was hired by a local high school for a "freshman bootcamp" - one week during the Summer when the new freshmen come in to meet the faculty, learn the campus, find out how high school differs from middle school, and have fun. I spent four days teaching magic to 13- and 14-year-olds. I had a different group each day, so I taught a different effect to each group. My approach was to start by showing each group an effect - a killer to establish my credibility as a magician - then to teach them an effect of their own. I had instructions printed for each student, and a deck of cards for each student to keep - I chose card magic because the props were inexpensive (in bulk) and versatile. My class was received very well.

If you would like to adopt this approach for your gig, choose good, self-working effects. [i]Lorayne[/i]'s [b][i]Lazy Man's Card Trick[/i][/b] and [i]Daryl[/i]'s [b][i]Dream a Card, Any Card[/i][/b] are good choices. Bring instruction sheets for everyone at the party, and a new deck of cards for each.
Message: Posted by: danryb (Dec 22, 2005 01:37PM)
I would also go ahead and "do it". it will be good for your experience. I would also suggest not charging for this particular gig of yours. I'd suggest the "close up" aproach like Skip said "sit down with them" - if you intend performing small tricks with cards and close up effects.
Some good stuff for this age you could work on is ring and rope, thumb cuffs, finger guilotine, rubber bands etc.

If you prefer to do stand up, then you might want some bigger props like an arm guilotine, maybe a couple of mind reading tricks, a jumbo card effect and some more visual props like a silk blendo effect and a production box.

in both circumstances I would also advise you to request that one or both the parents be with you to help you control the crowd (you can't realy expect them to pay you if they know you don't have experience with this age group).
If the show goes down well, you can rest assure that you can sell more and start making money from them.
If it doesn't go down well and you charge, 3 people will be effected - you, the parents and all the kids.
If you don't charge and it doesn't go down well, the kids wont remember you, the parents wont be too offended because of your honesty and you can spend some time brushing up and gaining experience.

Either way, enjoy,
Message: Posted by: Dynamike (Dec 22, 2005 07:46PM)
I would go ahead and try it as Dani mentioned. The first time is the hardest, but you will get use to it more and more. Charge a low fee the first few times until you are more relaxed. I bet sometime next year you will be giving advice to the beginners.
Message: Posted by: harris (Dec 23, 2005 01:13PM)
Working in a middle school gives me plenty of opportunities with this age group.

Along with magic, if you have some theatrical flair,you might want to combine your magic with impromptu games ala "Whose Line is it anyway."

Visual stuff is great.
Watch out for getting into I know something you don't.
Make it a we event
Have fun
Be open to opportunities to do magic with items at the event.
(examples are the 2 in the hand one in the pocket)

Enjoy and let us know what you learned and can share.

Be safe, well and creative.

Harris "Still learning after all these years" Deutsch