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Topic: Afraid to perform
Message: Posted by: tigerman21345 (Jan 18, 2006 11:04AM)
Sometimes I'm just not brave enough to show my tricks to other.....maybe I'm afriaid of any mistake that will make when I perform .... please help.... I have performed to friends/lay people before (not the show of course) but the problem still exists .... how can I overcome tihs ... ?

sorry for my bad english .
Message: Posted by: Jim Poor (Jan 18, 2006 11:12AM)
As an introvert turned closet extrovert, I can say JUST DO IT :D

That, and lots of practice are the only things that really help. Practice a lot so you can be confident in your abilities. Just do it to get over stage fright.
Message: Posted by: GeorgeG (Jan 18, 2006 11:54AM)
Practice in front of a mirror till you're comfortable with the trick. Then perform to those close to you who will not be critical if you fail. As you build your skill and confidence, move on.
Message: Posted by: Magic of Dan (Jan 18, 2006 12:04PM)
I got into magic just so I could get over my fears of being nervous (that was many years ago). I had stopped doing magic for a few years and just recently got back into it. I had my first show yesterday and was pretty nervous. I don't think nervousness completely goes away, but there are several things that can help. Know your tricks and practice them. I actually did a run through of my show the day before and video taped it. I watched it and critiqued myself. I think it helped a lot. Only after a few minutes of starting my show, my nervousness went away. I had the kids laughing and having a good time. I forgot all about being nervous.
I'm sure you will hear a lot of things from members about over coming your fears. Good luck and remember it takes time to get over your fears. Don't expect it to happen over night.
Message: Posted by: abc (Jan 18, 2006 12:22PM)
It will never go away. There is always the thought of What if I make a mistake regardless of how many times you practise something. I can do the pass 999 times or more in a performance flawlessly but I still have the one time where there is a slip or whatever. Almost all if not all magicians are like that. Nothing will ever go 100% smoothly. When you perform often enough you learn how to correct or overcome mistakes and that can be done flawlessly if you have enough experience.
You can only gain that experience from performing so it is kind of a catch 22 situation.
Message: Posted by: Kent Wong (Jan 18, 2006 01:01PM)
The important thing to remember is that this is not unusual. Many magicians (new and old) find that performing can be a nerve racking experience. As time goes by, your confidence in your abilities and in yourself as a person will improve. Both you and your magic will mature.

Message: Posted by: Corey Harris (Jan 18, 2006 01:14PM)
Tigerman, I have had the same problem. I used to perform all the time when I was younger. That was how I made money to buy my toys. However as I came into adult hood I found that I couldn't bring myself to perform for any one. I am still in the process of getting over the fear of performing my self. I do some stuff upon request. Or if I am working on a new effect I may try it out on a few people. But I still don't have the guts to advertise my services. You may also want to do a search on the Café Using my name. I started a topic like this a while ago and had some great advice on it.
Message: Posted by: jgravelle (Jan 18, 2006 01:19PM)
Early on, begin your opening effect with this line:

"I saw a guy do something strange..."

...then go into your act, describing the "trick" as you saw it:

"...then he took the coin like this, and put it under a handkerchief, like this..."

At any point, if the trick fails (so badly that you can't recover) you simply shrug and say "See? It's impossible... I don't know how he did it..." and then simply describe the effect and how amazed you were to have seen it. It will seem like it was just you telling a story to a friend. No pressure.

If you DO get through the whole trick successfully, grin wryly and STILL say:

"...and I have no idea HOW he did it!" The spectator will realize they've been led along and smile with you.

My "cold opener" for any social situation today is STILL to set my Okito Coin Box on the table next to my drink. Somebody WILL ask about it eventually, to which I reply:

"Oh that? An old guy sold that to me, but I think he tricked me. He opened it up and it looked empty, but he started pulling coins out..." You get the idea.

Be confident in your trick, and be prepared to bail out gracefully, and you'll take most of the pressure off yourself.


Message: Posted by: TKE (Jan 18, 2006 02:53PM)
I'm still fairly new to performing but...

my hands used to shake like I had turrets syndrome. It was so noticeable people noticed..i was still able to perform but I felt it ruined the effects..


Learned my material inside out: also I perform for 11 year old sister first..in fact I perform for her to the point where she gets sick of the effect..each time I say..is that better? is this more convincing?

Then move up to performing for a co-worker..and eventually for anyone..

Once in a while my hands will still shake..I then move to another effect because this tells me I'm not ready to perform this one just yet.

Hope this helps..

Message: Posted by: Cory Gallupe (Jan 18, 2006 03:16PM)
I used to have the same problem, still do in fact. But now, I don't let it win me over. I asked magicians this same question. "How can I get over it?" And they would say. "Just do it" I would think they are nuts. How in the world can you just do it without crapping yourself. But now, Im over most of my fear. I can perform for people I don't know. (Although, I don't approach them... Still working on that.) My advise is just like previous magi have told me. Remember the Nike slogan. "JUST DO IT!!! You will soon get comfortable with the audience you are performing for. Practice the effects until you cant get them wrong, and do them in front of a lay audience. Lay audiences are usually the easiest to perform for. Magicians are hard because they know how everything is done. But with magicians, if you screw up, they understand and know all about it. So I feel very comfortable performing for magicians. (Depending who they are.) But just do it. If anyone asks, get some cards, coins, or whatever, and do it with confidence. Trust me, Ive taken this same path, and now I am performing everytime I turn around.
Message: Posted by: jgravelle (Jan 18, 2006 04:16PM)
Cover for shaky hands:

"Isn't this exciting? My hands are trembling... look! Are yours?"

Whatever their answer, play it up like THEY are nervous and talk THEM down. You'll end up helping yourself:

"C'mon... relax... it's okay. Take a deep breath with me... Good. Let's try and go on... Stay calm though, alright?" etc.


Message: Posted by: Face (Jan 18, 2006 04:30PM)
Do it step by step: Start performing in front of mirror first, then to a relative, next some close friends, then coworkers and so on, til you get confident and then...rest of the World :)
Message: Posted by: Father Photius (Jan 18, 2006 06:02PM)
The key is to play a character. Many introverted shy people can act. Create a character for ur preforming self, either copy someone's style you have seen perform, initially you will indeed be a poor clone, but over time it will evolve into your own style. Or create a fictional character who is the magician and you play the role. It is much easier to play the part of a magician than it is to be urself doing the magic. In a lot of ways it is simply a mental trick ur playing on ur own mind, but it works.
Message: Posted by: DomKabala (Jan 18, 2006 06:12PM)
The thing is you never really get over the nervousness while performing. You have to learn to tolerate it & control it. I have lived in Florida for over 3 decades and I can never get use to the heat and humidity here in the summer...I just tolerate it. One thing is for sure the more you do it, the easier it is to tolerate it & control it. Be the one in charge and take command...you can do it. Good Luck!!
Message: Posted by: Josh the Superfluous (Jan 18, 2006 09:44PM)
Mistakes happen, let them and move on. Always start simple. You will get over it.
Message: Posted by: TerryLam (Jan 18, 2006 09:58PM)
Practice in front of a mirror. Try to find a friend that can learn magic together with you. Whenever I learn something new, I will perform for him first and get feedback from him. That helps a lot.
Message: Posted by: Dizzy (Jan 19, 2006 09:12AM)
I have been in performing magic since the age of 11 and I'm now 25. I can probably count on one hand the number of effects that I have performed to my family.
I think you sometimes need to take a step back and you need to perform and enjoy it for yourself. However, they say the best performers are just as nervous, they are just better at hiding it. Like the others say, just practice and enjoy yourself,

Message: Posted by: Roland78 (Jan 19, 2006 10:16AM)
Relatives scare me more than stranger people. If I mess up a trick with them, they eill remember it. If I mess a double lift with my brother, I won't never be able to do a DL for him because he will know what I'm doing. And if a layman knows a secret, I think he cannot be an honest counselor for your performance, either, because he won't have that astonishment needed to like the magic.
For the nervous, I have the same problem: trembling hands, babbling too much, and I fear to do errors. Also if I practice a trick until I can do it blindfolded, I always am afraid to do some errors. But the fear goes away the moment I begin the trick. I also play in comedies at theatre and it's the same thing. I don't remember a single line when I'm going to enter the stage, but when I step on it, everything flow without a problem in my mind.
As someone already said... Be brave and just do it!

Message: Posted by: TKE (Jan 19, 2006 10:45AM)
Another tip jeff McBride mentions in one of his series....

start out with material you have down cold..in your case even self working or super easy stuff (ie a "pen thru effect")

after you build up your confidence move to something you're working on..

THEN end with easy/selfworking stuff..

so basically you're starting and ending easy..if you messup or get nervous in the middle you having something less nerve wrecking to look forward to afterwards.
Message: Posted by: tigerman21345 (Jan 19, 2006 11:15AM)
Really really thank you to you all , thank you so much .

After reading the posts I immediately perform to my edler sister ,she's not quite interested to magic/watching magic , after I do a trick to her , she told me "wow , it's cool ,im sure you can impress some girls out there by it " , of course I'm not going to impress girls by magic , I wanna impress them by my own personality :)

But of course she doesn't react like "oh it's impossible !" , although it's a good reaction but after doing this trick I do agree that perform to lay people is better than relatives , when I perform to some friends sometimes they will freak out , but after that they won't really impress becuz they know who you are ....

I'm sure will perform to lay people next time !

Really gave me so many good advices !!
Thanks all of you !
Message: Posted by: Jonathanmc (Jan 19, 2006 11:38AM)
Try a couple of the following ideas.

Before the performance try some relaxation exercises.
Learn to slow your breathing; this will help with nerves and shaking.

Don’t try to plow through.
If you find your self shaking and can’t perform allow your self the time to stop even if you are right in front of an audience. If you try to plow through it will only get worse. Tell a joke; admit to the audience that you are very nervous. Turn this into a joke by invoking the spirits of Houdini, Blackstone etc. Remember your audience wants to be entertained so they are on your side.

I used to be a singer and was singing at a church one Sunday. At the time in the service for the psalm I went to the music stand, the organist started and I began to sing. When I got through the first page I realized I didn’t have the other pages on the stand. At the time I just stood there like a deer in headlights. Now I know I would stop get the music and then go on. The priest referred to this as my nuclear meltdown for years after.

If you do mess up make that part of the performance. Don’t get frustrated and say something that will alert your audience to the fact that what is happening isn’t supposed to happen. The other day I was doing a party and at the final unlinking of my ring routine they all got mixed up. I have done this routine dozens of times correctly but this time it just went really wrong. I told the audience it was the final figure the “nest of noodles” figure. Did some of them know I got it wrong? Probably. But the point is I tried to use my mistake to still entertain them.

Enjoy your performance. Yes we do this for an audience, but we really do it for ourselves. Try to enjoy performing for your sake.
Message: Posted by: jcards01 (Jan 19, 2006 12:05PM)
Practice until you can do it without thinking....that said, nothing will stop you from the nerves when you first perform a show for people you don't know. that's just the way it is. seasoned professionals become better at it, but still some have the quiet nerves when performing for a new audience. It just takes time!
Message: Posted by: Aubrey_T (Jan 19, 2006 01:20PM)
Frank Sinatra said that every night he feared not being able to hit the notes of the songs even though he sang them all the time. He said it was just one of those things you go through. You get into it and after a little bit you realize it's going to be okay.

The point is this know your stuff and know it well. After a while you'll see that your routines will be more comfortable cause you are comfortable with the efects. The fear tends to come from the "what-if's" in your mind. The more often you get through the effects the more you will be put at ease. New routines might bring you this similar feeling but you'll find that it will become much easier. We all want perfection but fear keeps us from it. Go through the routines so that you can do them without thinking or more importantly so that you can get through the mechanics of it without thinking and concentrate on actuallt presenting it. This will make your magic more enjoyable for you and for your audience.

Hope this has helped...it helped me out when I was getting started!
Message: Posted by: DanielSteep (Jan 19, 2006 03:12PM)
You could do what I do ... vidoetape your self and then watch it to see ur mistakes or talk to some other magicians on MSN or AIM and do ur tricks on cam I do that all the time....
Message: Posted by: madmaxa (Jan 20, 2006 05:11AM)
On 2006-01-19 11:45, TKE wrote:
Another tip jeff McBride mentions in one of his series....

start out with material you have down cold..in your case even self working or super easy stuff (ie a "pen thru effect")

after you build up your confidence move to something you're working on..

THEN end with easy/selfworking stuff..

so basically you're starting and ending easy..if you messup or get nervous in the middle you having something less nerve wrecking to look forward to afterwards.

I cannot agree completely. Pen through anything is something you can ruin very easily if you are nervous or performing badly. In my opinion, you need build a confidence in your self, and the best to do it is to have your audience amazed. What I mean is that you should do some of the simplest, but most effective routines, like handkerchief vanish with thumb tip. Sometimes just this one is enough to leave people sleepless. Once you feel “you have them”, move on self working stuff, they cannot catch you with (meaning there is nothing to hide, like in “pen through anything”, something that you can give to your spectator in hands).
Message: Posted by: TKE (Jan 20, 2006 05:19AM)
I suppose technically you can ruin ANY effect..even when using a TT..

but I mean a pen through effect is almost as simple as you can get..

along with a hank vanish as you said
Message: Posted by: davidpaul$ (Jan 20, 2006 08:27AM)
Eugene Burger's 5 words of advice. " Give yourself permission to fail "
Message: Posted by: pkg (Jan 20, 2006 09:45AM)
You will never succeed unless you fail! cliche but true! to err is human, and no one EVER did not fail...

practice practice and practice! in front of a mirror (i use a make-up thingie mirror, has 3 mirrors, one facing you, and 2 on your sides...covers all angles...well except your back...)

use a Video Cam, tape it, watch it and watch it again...practice till you can do your routines blindfolded!
Message: Posted by: johnwolfe (Jan 20, 2006 09:42PM)
There is a well know magician who will practice a trick or routine 200 times before he performs it in public. That may seem excessive. I have been doing magic for 35 years and I'm currently trying that rule. I'm working on a vanishing strip of paper using a TT and I mark down each time I run through the trick in front of a mirror, patter and all. I'm up to 55 rehearsals with this one trick and it can get tedious. However, I'v noticed that I'm picking up on very subtle things that can happen while I'm performing that build my confidence.

Examples: Oops, the paper tore when I pulled it out. How will I cover that if it happens during a performance?
Or, Gee...that patter seems to not fit during this one phase, how can I improve it?
Or, That is a dangerous angle, how can I cover that so I won't be distracted during the performance?

I have also gotten into the habit of scripting my patter. This may seem tedious but it forces you to think through your presentation and find words that fit your own style.

One of the benefits of so much practice is that when you do perform the trick in public, you will be at the point where you will not have to think about what you are physically doing in terms of moves and slieghts and can actually focus on the audience and the presentation. Athletes refer to this as muscle memory. As one magic writer observed, we brush our teeth every day. We don't think about the moves we use to accomplish the act of brushing, we just do it out of muscle memory. The same should be the case with our magic presentations.

Another good pointer I learned is, don't watch your hands while you perform unless you want to focus the audience attention on them. Whatever you watch, the audience will watch. Learn to look the audience in the eye while you address them.

Good luck with your work.
Message: Posted by: gibson99 (Jan 22, 2006 12:22AM)
I have just gotten back into magic recently and find that my hands tremble and I also seem to rush when performing.
Message: Posted by: Foucault (Jan 22, 2006 09:14AM)
Something that Brad Burt wrote in one of his series of e-mail mini-course lessons hit home to me (and I paraphrase):

Thinking about what happens when you mess up, think about it in the grand scheme of things: No-one's going to die. No wars are going to start. You're not even going to be having a great impact on the magic community. You simply screwed up. Oh well. Let's learn from it and move on.
Message: Posted by: Josh the Superfluous (Jan 22, 2006 11:02AM)
Gibson99, I had the same problem. Same advice as above "just do it".

How about the opening line "I'm still new at this. It only seems to work if I constantly shake my hands." ?
Message: Posted by: deputy (Jan 22, 2006 01:08PM)
I agree with josh, just do a couple tricks you know inside out. go out in public like a restaraunt or a bar and do it for a couploe people first. good luck
Message: Posted by: magicman226 (Jan 22, 2006 05:51PM)
On 2006-01-20 06:11, madmaxa wrote:
On 2006-01-19 11:45, TKE wrote:
Another tip jeff McBride mentions in one of his series....

start out with material you have down cold..in your case even self working or super easy stuff (ie a "pen thru effect")

after you build up your confidence move to something you're working on..

THEN end with easy/selfworking stuff..

so basically you're starting and ending easy..if you messup or get nervous in the middle you having something less nerve wrecking to look forward to afterwards.

I cannot agree completely. Pen through anything is something you can ruin very easily if you are nervous or performing badly. In my opinion, you need build a confidence in your self, and the best to do it is to have your audience amazed. What I mean is that you should do some of the simplest, but most effective routines, like handkerchief vanish with thumb tip. Sometimes just this one is enough to leave people sleepless. Once you feel “you have them”, move on self working stuff, they cannot catch you with (meaning there is nothing to hide, like in “pen through anything”, something that you can give to your spectator in hands).

It can be messed up easily, but I pulled off "explaining" I can't reveal too much, but I told the kids that I was so strong that the pen "couldn't handle it" It's hard to explain what I was saying, but I would be revealing a secret.
Message: Posted by: Christopher Williams (Jan 23, 2006 02:35PM)
Its all pratice. There are as said beofre, moves that you can do all the time by your self, but do it to someone else and it will go wrong. Its hard really, as infront of a mirror, you get a biased view on your move, but you will never perform the move exactly the same twixe, even if it is the VERY slightest difference. But when you perform to someone other than the mirror, its so much more different, they shouldnt see the move or something like that, and that pressure gets to you. Its just practice practice, practice. that's all there is to it, you will never be perfect at anything. I get the top shot everytime usually. But every once in a while I miss, and it looks silly. But that's not practice, that's just misjudgement, I did something different to what I would do to catch it.
Working in the magic shop pretty much 5 days a week, I perform lots and practice in there a lot, so I gain experience of what works and what doesn't.
The shakes are different. I used to shake like hell infront of people when I first started. Now I don't. There are however thoes times when those nerves come back, usually when I'm trying to perform to magicians, that those shakes come back, but not very often and they aren't really noticable, but if you make a big thing about them and concentrate on the shaking, it will make things worse. Its like a fear, you have to try and overcome it, and the only way to conquer fear is to meet your fear head on. In this case, it is performing. don't worry if you mess up at first or if something goes wrong, you need to get over your fear of performing, and those nerves will go

Hope this helps

PM me if you ever need help
Message: Posted by: Jondalawyer (Jan 24, 2006 11:02AM)
I've been working on getting over being reluctant to perform by trying out new moves or routines on magician friends. They are honest and the risk of exposing a secret (one of my biggest concerns) is mostly eliminated.

I know a lot of people who don't like to perform for other magicians, especially more experienced and talented magicians. My experience has been that they are the most helpful and understanding.
Message: Posted by: Christopher Williams (Jan 24, 2006 02:02PM)
That's true Jondalawyer. The older more experienced magicians, well, most of them are happy to tell you what you are doing wrong and try and help you if they can. However, don't be put off when you do come across some magicians who wont offer any help, instead they either put you down, or try and complicate matters, and yes, there are some magicians like that out there, I have met some of them and that is why I am all to happy to help anyone
Message: Posted by: Genghis (Jan 24, 2006 03:10PM)
Though not the original poster, I'd like to thank everyone for their comments here - very useful to me also.
Message: Posted by: wattomagic (Jan 24, 2006 08:37PM)
I suppose without this fear, there would be no desirer to improve ones performance and magic would become boring. that's how I feel anyway.

Message: Posted by: magicman226 (Jan 24, 2006 09:29PM)
You are definitely going to be nervous at first. I was literally shaking during my first gig. However, over time, you will get used to how to perform and get less nervous over time. Just go out and perform, and if you mess up, so what, welcome to the club. Nothing is easy at first, and I know for a fact everyone got nervous in the beginning. I will personally hunt someone down no matter where in the world they are and personally congratulate them if they could truly say they were not nervous in the beginning.
Message: Posted by: Roland78 (Jan 25, 2006 02:44AM)
Oh, I have another tip to add. It works for me. I noticed this when I first began acting at theatre: when performing (or acting, that's the same), the most people me included go too fast with the lines of the comedy or the steps of the trick and the patter. Try with a watch: how long is your patter? 5 minutes? then try doing the same in front of a friend and secretely take a look at how long your effect last... 3 minutes? Well, you did it in a hurry :)
So, the suggestion is: when you perform, do it sloooowly, like at the moviola. U will feel you are doing it at rallenty, but in reality you are doing it at the correct speed.

Message: Posted by: palmern (Jan 25, 2006 06:07AM)
I had the same problem. As soon as a crowd gathered, I would istanly tense up. Slowly, as my confidence grew, I was able to draw a crowd and do tricks for them without shaking out of my boots! Just keeping on practicing, and eventually it will come. Try a few tricks with no gimmicks first but are almost self working to get your confidence up. Then you can do more tricks that are more gimmicked and have more sleights. Cheers!
Message: Posted by: 61magic (Jan 27, 2006 12:18PM)
Here is a bit of advise most of which has been said before. This is confirm things to you.
I started in magic in the 6th grade. I was a very shy kid, and this helped.
I was nervous, and my hands shook.
This is all normal reactions to stress. The key is to reduce unnecessary stress, and channel the rest into something positive.
Practice your moves, and routines over, and over until you get them down. The will help to reduce unnecessary stress.
Try not to learn too many effects. Too many takes time away from getting really good with your core routine.
Perform when ever you can, the more you do it the easier it will be.
Don't expect to make it go away, learn to live with it. Some extra energy can be useful during a performance if displayed as enthusiasm.
If you look back one some of David Copperfield's specials he shook some during closeups on his closeups.....
I'm now 45, and still get nervous, but I love to perform more than I fear the performance.....
Keep working on it, and lots of luck.
Message: Posted by: tigerman21345 (Jan 27, 2006 11:17PM)
Hey guys this is me again , yesterday I performed to some lay people , first I perform "another quick coincidence" and "your signed card" in Ammar's ETMCM Series , but unfortunly I was failed to perform "the signed card" because someone want to check the cards out before I do the trick...... and you know what happened....
But after that I perform "Lottery" and "Acquaintances" by Jay Sankey and get really great reaction ...well after that I found out if the things mess up that is not a big problem .... just after a few mins people will forget it... and if do the tricks well next time , then they will enjoy it .

And I found out my hands doesn't shake anymore after I failed to perform the "your signed card"(i mean yesterday) , I don't know why ... may be I learned from the failure ? I don't know ... but it's the fact that my hands did not shake when I was performing .

And of course I do think I have to improve my presentation skill .

Thank you guys who gave me so many good advices , that's so helpful , thank you :)

P.S Again , sorry for my bad english .
Message: Posted by: EvanTheMagicMan (Mar 2, 2006 07:33PM)
Get some of your closest friend together and show them your tricks,just tell them that you would like their honest opinion on your tricks and then take their tips and improve on your tricks. You can really have anyone judge your tricks but friends were work great.
Message: Posted by: jdbach (Mar 8, 2006 10:26PM)
Know that your desire to share what you enjoy is the highest form of a compliment you could pay to your friends and family. Talk with them and tell them that you would like to share some effects that you are practicing. Feel safe with your friends that will find joy is the fact that you are sharing. Life is a risk....just get out and express yourself...

Thank you for the opportunity
Message: Posted by: natswift (Mar 11, 2006 09:06AM)
Wow a lot of people share the same fears! I too suffer from nervousness anytime I perform. I have been doing magic for about 18 years now, I just did a show at a church here near my home and I was nervous like you wouldn't believe, until I got going.
I have always been and assume I always will be the type of guy who shakes like crazy until I find my groove. Whether I'm in front of a crowd or just a few people around a table, I get the same nervous trembles.
The way I've combated this over the years is to always start with an "effect that cannot fail". Ok so there is really no such animal, but I perform a trick that isn't very technical or require a lot of sleight of hand. This way I can get a feel for my audience and then move into the more technical stuff. I think that my nervousness comes more from anticipation than fear. But it's the nervousness that leads to the fear!!

Although stage fright is not much fun it is good to see and hear that a lot of people suffer from it! :hmm:
Message: Posted by: Jarana (Jun 2, 2006 11:04AM)
I agree, although stage fright its not fun at all, it does help a little when you know a lot of us have similar issues. Hopefully I can overcome mine also!!! or get to the point where I can perform in a relaxed manner.

Message: Posted by: lelo (Jun 2, 2006 12:20PM)
Practice does not make perfect but it can make you much better. It is normal to be a little bit nervous. Try to build up your confidence with moves that you have mastered (if there is such a thing). Additionally focus your practice to perform the critical move of an effect (switch, false counts, etc.) in an effortless, natural manner.
Message: Posted by: Jim Mullen (Jun 2, 2006 02:14PM)
As someone who has been a magician for over 50 years, I seldom get nervous, although I am always a bit less comfortable performing in front of magicians at a magic meeting. Agreeing with most of the comments you have received in this forum, I suggest the following:

(1) Reherse the material extensively. When you really KNOW your material, the performance becomes automatic, and you cease to worry about what might go wrong. To this end, I recommend writing out a script for the patter and memorizing the script. That way you will not have to think up what to say on the spot during your show. It also means you will not be at a loss for words during any nervous moments. I find that patter problems are much more likely than sleight-of-hand problems to bring on nervousness. What happens is that you begin fumbling with the patter, saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, or not knowing exactly what to say, or leaving out some needed patter. When this happens, you get a bit tense, and this causes further mistakes in the patter and the sleights. One thing leads to another, and pretty soon the effect collapses. On the other hand, if you KNOW the patter, you can always get back on track and can proceed smoothly even though you've run into a problem.

(2) Sometimes sleight-of-hand problems do occur and you find yourself a bit nervous in the moments leading up to the execution of a difficult sleight. I always am a bit apprehensive about doing the diagonal palm shift to palm a card for the card-to-wallet effect because I know that the trick will collapse if I botch the sleight. For this problem, I can only suggest that you practice a lot, and--very important--practice doing the trick WITH its accompanying patter. If you are very nervous about a sleight, get rid of the trick and do something with less demanding sleights or no slights whatsoever. There are plenty of great tricks that require no sleight-of-hand--even card tricks. Also, as has been suggested, start off with a trick requiring no sleight of hand. That way, you will be well into your show before you show any nervousness. You will be on a roll and will be able to cruise through the tough parts of your program. One the other hand, if you make a big mistake with the first trick, you can lose your self confidence and even your audience. Once you do one trick well, you will have established yourself as a magician. Then, if you blow the next trick, you can throw the cards over you shoulder and say, "I hated that trick anyway. Let's do another one that is even worse."

(3) Many years ago, when I was in sixth grade, I performed magic at a camp talent show. As a result, the camp counselors recruited me to be the emcee at the camp closing ceremony for parents. Right befor going on, I became exceedingly nervous, probably because I was not doing my own, well-rehersed material. My hands and voice were shaking, and that made me even more nervious. One of the councelors noticed this and told me to take several deep breaths right before going to the mike. This helped quite a bit, and I got through the event with no problems. You might give that a try.

(4) Finally, don't forget that you are a magician and not a heart surgeon whose mistakes can be catastrophic. If you flub the trick--what the heck; nobody is going to die. Pass off the problem, laugh at yourself, and move onto the next trick.

Good luck.
Message: Posted by: Jaz (Jun 2, 2006 02:46PM)
Excellent post Jim.
A big welcome to the Café.