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Topic: To teach or not to teach
Message: Posted by: tyrael07 (Mar 28, 2006 09:42AM)
Hi guys,

Not quite sure where to post this.

I have this dillema. How do you guys decide it's time to teach a person something? Because I'm having some requests from people who seem genuinely interested in doing what I did.

I'm thinkin about giving them a good start by giving them a test trick. What beginner trick would you guys suggest me teach? Crazy man's handcuff? What about card? And coin effect?

Please advise. Thanks
Message: Posted by: TannerJade (Mar 28, 2006 09:44AM)
Just wondering, who is wanting to learn these effects? Someone who will just want to know one trick, or someone who wants to learn more about the art of magic?

I will try to help as best I can...

Message: Posted by: Brad Burt (Mar 28, 2006 09:55AM)
It would be much better to have someone out there doing just one trick REALLY well with your help then to stumble around screwing stuff up. I like the Crazy Man's Handcuff idea. If they totally NAIL it down then you'll teach them something else. What the heck, before you know it you may have enough folks to start a local Ring of the I.B.M.? Best,
Message: Posted by: SOHA (Mar 28, 2006 10:00AM)
Give them [b] one [/b] SELF WORKING TRICK,(no sleight of hand please!) and point them to a beginners book. Don't tell them anything about finding it in public libraries. (you don't want to give them acces to explanations of tricks if that's all they are looking for)

See how much interest and time they put on the trick you gave them, and also if they follow up on the book that you recomend and seem to genuinly and actively try to study it.

After that you can start to help them out on what they are learning and point them out in the right direction.

Message: Posted by: Steven Steele (Mar 28, 2006 10:16AM)
Will (SOHA), you're on target. I wouldn't dream of teaching a newbie the Crazy Man's Handcuffs. Many hobbiests, part-time pros, and pros use it or a variation in their routines. Find a good self-working trick and teach that to them. That's the best way for them to learn how to "perform" (when they don't have to worry about the trick going wrong).

I remember the frustration of getting a set of multiplying billiard balls and linking rings in my first magic set. I couldn't do anything with them as the instructions in those sets were terrible.

In addition, when magicians watch me work, some of them ask for the secrets to some of my stuff, but if they aren't at an appropriate skill or performance level, I won't tell them. You don't teach calculus to a person who can only handle fractions, no matter how impressive your math skills may look to them.

And Brad is correct too. They need to do the trick (or two) very well before they move on. Following what was said here and above will weed out the curious.

Message: Posted by: Joey Stalin (Mar 28, 2006 12:58PM)
As for cards show them some flourishy stuff/manipulations, like a charlier cut, other one handed cuts, how to spring a deck of cards, scaling cards, ect. If they have the devotion for things like these then teach them some self working stuff, just not the 21 card trick heh.
Message: Posted by: ALEXANDRE (Mar 28, 2006 01:17PM)
Here is something I teach to beginners that show serious interest in learning. The emphasis here is on PRESENTATION so they start off right if they choose to continue on the magic/mentalism path.


You claim every card is marked on your friend's deck. Mention that you read somewhere that a few of those decks came out marked and are actually collector's items now.

Shuffle the deck of cards and ask your friend to remember the cards you'll read the backs of. Now tell your friend to cut the deck into 3 piles of any size mentioning that you'll try to see the special markings, reminding again that your friend remember the cards you call out. (this works to keep the spectator's mind busy)

You then look at the first pile and say "by the back of this card I know this is an Ace" and you pick up the card. You look at the next pile and name another card, then the next pile. You then ask, "now what were the three cards I just read from the back?" The cards are repeated and you lay them out one at a time, each having been correctly guessed from the back without you ever having seen the faces!

You have a collector's item here, pal!


No preparation. The effect is self working. All that's required is that you know the value of the top card. Begin by watching someone shuffle. Nine times out of ten you can learn the top or bottom card just by watching the shuffle. If you have seen what card he/she has on top, then you won't even have to touch the cards before you do the trick! If you did not catch the top card, take the cards, peek at the bottom card while you give them a quick shuffle moving this card to the top, or just notice the top card as you shuffle casually.

Now have your friend cut the cards into 3 piles. (You can have as many piles as you want, but your friend may have trouble remembering more than 3 cards) Just keep track of what pile the card you know is in. This will be the card you "guess" last.

Let's say you know the top card is the 7 of diamonds, and you know the pile it's in. Reach out to a DIFFERENT pile and say "this looks like the 7 of diamonds" and pick it up and look at it, nodding as if you were correct, but do not show the card to your friend.

Now, let's say the card you picked up is the 8 of clubs, you now look to the next pile and say "this looks like the 8 of clubs" and pick up the top card again. Again you do not show this to your friend, but nod knowingly. Let's say it is the King of Hearts, you simply look to the last pile and say "on this last pile is the King of Hearts" and pick up the last card. You have now named all three cards successfully!

Set the cards face down on the table, and talk for a bit so that no one remembers the order the cards were picked up in. Then ask who remembers the cards you named, and as they are named, turn them over one at a time to show you were right!

Keep in mind that for this to work well, you have to be very casual and natural with it. Be yourself through the presentation and it'll blow minds!

Again, the focus of this very simple and old routine is PRESENTATION. I can pull this off today with no problem whatsoever and have people love the trick! It really is all about how you present it.
Message: Posted by: Brad Burt (Mar 28, 2006 01:20PM)
My own view of this is driven by my own experience in magic. The first trick that was ever done for me used one sleight and just fooled me over and over and over. I was frantic to learn how the trick was done. When I found out I was sold on magic. All I wanted to do was sleight-of-hand and thus I totally avoided the trick deck, etc. phase that most go through. Mostly self working stuff leaves me cold although there as some fantastic self working routine. But, mostly those routines are not the ones taught to someone just getting interested.

I would rather teach someone Crazy Mans Handcuffs and make SURE that he can DO it and let him do something that people will view as magical. Also, my experience has been that given an easy self worker, most folks won't actually put the work in necessary to really do even that well! But, when you give them something that won't work without them putting in the time, they DO put in the time.

What's worse for magic than someone doing a self worker badly? Not much. Oh, my goodness, here comes Sam with his three rows of seven trick! Yikes. Or, whatever.
If you don't think they are REALLY interested then tell them you swore an oath NOT to teach anyone magic and forget it. Or, tell them it will cost them $20. Now, the information has some value and it's not free. Again, if you think they are just curious then don't teach. If you really think they will do a good job then show them something that will force them to do a good job and stick with them until they have the bloody thing down. See that's part of it. Don't just show them some moves and then have them go home. Run them through it until they have it. If it takes a hundred times then it does. Then give them some patter ideas, etc. Work with them until they have it.

The problem for magic isn't someone doing one magic trick. It's doing one magic so badly that it reflects on magic generally! Let me tell you...as far as the non magician is concerned anyone and I mean anyone who does a trick IS a magician to them! That's not fair really, but it's reality. If someone is going to do ONE trick and come hell or highwater they are going to search out something to do, then we owe it to the craft to take them and teach them something that when they do it reflects back positively on the craft. If you spent 33 years behind a magic counter you meet a lot of folks who do magic. You meet a lot of folks who do only one or two tricks. Some of these guys do their one or two tricks as good or better than the best magicians out there, some other don't. Let's make ones that do, but another guy doing the 21 Card Trick is not the path I think we want to take.

This is an important discussion in a lot of ways, because more than anything else it impinges on the general future of magic. All best,
Message: Posted by: tyrael07 (Mar 28, 2006 07:13PM)
Thanks guys.for the replies.

it's a tough decision for me to make. as my environment is somewhat different to your countries. For example, local libraries won't have magic books with them. Not that I know of.

I'm afraid if I demand a sum of money upfront before teaching something,i'd scare them away. Or I'd be perceived as someone who just wants to make some quick bucks.

the point is this, I'd like to know whether someone just out of curiosity wants to learn one trick or put serious interest in magic in general? I thought crazy man's handcuff was a good test to find out. Or...say, do as a I do for card? Or, coin roll for coins? But that might dissapoint them, as they'd not view them as some magic to learn/work with.

Message: Posted by: abc (Mar 28, 2006 11:03PM)
I usually do this.
Teach them one self working card trick and one that requires a sleight that is not too easy but also not too dificult.
If they come back and they can do the self working trick well but not the one with the sleight it means they wanted to know the secret and all they did was show everyone the easy trick they know.
If they can do the trick with the sleight they practised and that is the first good sign I usually look for.
Message: Posted by: psyrules510 (Apr 3, 2006 10:17PM)
The first trick I was taught when I first wanted to get into magic was a simple card trick that involved no sleight of hands (the one where you look at the bottom card and put that half of the deck above their selected card). Now I juss teach them that and they actually like it.
Message: Posted by: Father Photius (Apr 3, 2006 10:27PM)
I teach when they show enough interest to go out and learn some on their own. I'll make recommendations about books in the library, or getting Mark Wilson's Complete Course in Magic and the like. If they do this and start to learn a few things, showing real interest, then I'm willing to give them a few pointers.
Message: Posted by: F-Hmagic (Apr 4, 2006 09:17AM)
Some years ago I expressed an interest in learning magic to a magician. He performed CMH for me and told me to figure it out and once I did, to come back. Well, I figured out the basic mechanics of it, but at the time I was not really wanting to learn. I was not willing to put in the time practicing that is needed. I never went back (not for magic, anyway).
If the desire that I have now had been there, I would have been back to that man in a matter of days and at least shown him what I had been attempting.
Personally, I feel that this is a good way to separate those who are truly interested from those who just want to learn the how-to's.
Message: Posted by: Kent Wong (Apr 4, 2006 10:27AM)
This is just my opinion but here goes:

Teaching a person a trick will not make him a magician. He'll just be some guy who knows how to do a trick.

If he's really interested in becoming a magician, he needs to learn the fundamentals of magic first. Recommend a good book to him that will guide him through some of the most basic sleights with coins, cards and balls.

Don't lend/give the book to him, and don't take him by the hand and teach him every last thing. An essential part of magic is initiative and motivation. If he's got the initiative to either go out and buy the book or borrow it from the library and, if he has the motivation to try and learn the basic sleights himself, you know you have the makings of a potential magician.

Now, I'm not suggesting that you don't give him any help whatsoever. If he has difficulties mastering a sleight, give him some guidance. But let him try to learn it on his own first. Being able to persevere and learn from wriiten

At the same time, recommend some good, BEGINNER's self-working tricks for him to either learn or buy. This will give him the confidence of performing without the risk of technical failure. It will also give you an opportunity to give him guidance and advice on the presentation of the effect.

Do not teach him the effects that he has seen you perform. These effects are likely way over his head. He needs to develop and learn at his own pace. Instead, recommend tricks to him that he can either buy or learn that use the basic sleights he has mastered. Then he will be able to see why he is learning these moves.

In a short period of time, he will have a mastery of basic sleights, the beginnings of solid presentational skills, a good selection of BEGINNER'S self working tricks, and a base of tricks requiring basic sleight of hand.

Hope that helps.

Message: Posted by: abc (Apr 5, 2006 11:54PM)
The main reason I teach the tricks I mentioned in my post above is again I don't want to show someone the way who is not really interested. If I refer him to the Mark Wilson book (which is the first book I recommend) I need to know that he is not going to buy the book learn a few "moves" and mess it all up.
I know a search on the internet can give you 100s of titles but which ones are good is a question only a magician can really answer. If they have 100 + choices they are more than likely not going to buy one but if IO reffered a book they will buy it and I still run the risk of introducing someone to a book that may cause them to ruin magic.
Message: Posted by: tyrael07 (Apr 6, 2006 12:12PM)
Thanks for the great comments guys.

however I forgot to mention one thing. that I don't think you can find a magic book in local library. nor book stores. a proper magic book, that is. magic shop itself in my city is close to non-existent. they usually open up a small kiosk in a shopping mall, and usually sell gimmicks. I'm not sure if the attendants are any good with non-gimmicked or can point enthusiasts to a good source of beginner's magic.

so, you can forget about getting your hands on card college,rrtcm, bobo ,etc. unless you know some people who know some people up there. hehehe

so the best way, is to give them a head start myself. just, I don't know what trick to begin with? which is not too easy and not too difficult.

Message: Posted by: DoctorAmazo (May 24, 2006 07:25AM)
On 2006-04-04 11:27, magicman845 wrote:
If he's really interested in becoming a magician, he needs to learn the fundamentals of magic first.

I respectfully disagree. Did YOU thoroughly study the "fundamentals" before you ever tried out a single trick on anyone? Of course not.

The "rush" of fooling someone (even if the first time was your Dad who was less fooled than he pretended to be!) is the primary motivator throughout our magic career. It's what got us all started, and what keeps us going.

I doubt any of us would have bothered opening a single book before we experienced that first "performance".
Message: Posted by: airship (May 24, 2006 10:42AM)
This has been touched on above, but I think it needs to be emphasized, since just about everyone seems to be mostly concerned about how HARD an effect is, and how much practice it takes to do it well.

Magic is about the presentation.

Show them an easy self-working trick, and see if they're willing to learn how to present it in such a way that it becomes magic. If they can, they can become a magician. If not, they will become someone's uncle who knows one card trick.
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (May 25, 2006 07:56AM)
On 2006-03-28 10:42, tyrael07 wrote:... How do you guys decide it's time to teach a person something? Because I'm having some requests from people who seem genuinely interested in doing what I did....[/quote]

Can they do some of the components competently?
Message: Posted by: Rinse (May 25, 2006 11:40AM)
On 2006-04-06 13:12, tyrael07 wrote:
so, you can forget about getting your hands on card college,rrtcm, bobo ,etc. unless you know some people who know some people up there. hehehe

You can't find Card College, etc. in most bookstores here in the US, either. (Heck, I'd be pleasantly surprised if the local magic shops carried it.) However, there are plenty of really, really basic/beginner/self-working type magic books at most bookstores. Maybe those are available where you are.

I agree w/ the comments of starting someone on a basic book. When I first got interested in magic, books is where I looked.

I have never asked someone, "Walk me through that your trick step-by-step!" .. I have asked people, "How can I do this sleight better?" and I find most people are more than helpful when it comes to providing tips. So maybe that's an attitude you can take, and have the person do some homework first.
Message: Posted by: Magnus Eisengrim (May 26, 2006 02:02PM)
Funny thing about Crazy Man's Handcuffs. A couple of years ago, I was in a room with a bunch of high school math teachers. One of them knew how to do the CMH move and demonstrated it to the others at my table. I said nothing, but watched intently as they did it. What was interesting was that it was never considered to be a magic trick--it was an interesting and fun thing to do with a rubber band. Everyone learned how to do something cool, but no one, so far as I could tell, believed that they had learned a magic trick.

First, I think that this illustrates the difference between moves and magic. Without presentation, CMH is just a cool thing to do with a rubber band.

Second, the story shows that magic secrets may be rather different than we usually assume. Everyone knows how to show one thing and hide another; everyone knows that it is possible to deal cards from somewhere other than the obvious place. Those really aren't the secrets of magic: the secrets involve ways to mask how we do what everyone knows is possible.

For me, this leads to an amazing resource for the interested beginner. [i]Magic for Dummies[/i] is a book that beautifully illustrates all this. The book is a gem because it teaches very few magical moves, but emphasizes magical performance on every page. Perhaps it would make an excellent first resource for the curious.


(hope I didn't ramble too much here)
Message: Posted by: tyrael07 (May 27, 2006 12:38PM)
On 2006-05-25 08:56, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
On 2006-03-28 10:42, tyrael07 wrote:... How do you guys decide it's time to teach a person something? Because I'm having some requests from people who seem genuinely interested in doing what I did....[/quote]

Can they do some of the components competently?

Jonathan, they are laymen... my problem is knowing the differences between laymen who just want to know how it's done AND the serious ones.