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Topic: Standing Still - Mime/Magic and Tremors
Message: Posted by: Jaypoc (Jul 13, 2006 04:53PM)
I'm not sure if this is the right area for this, but I believe it may fall along the line of mime/stillness work.

I suffer from tremors. My hands shake, usually when I'm trying to keep them very still, and more depending on certain variables (i.e. level of concentration, nervousness, etc.. You should see me trying to solder.. it's bad)

It's starting to affect my magic, as I'm trying to learn card manipulations which often require that I keep steady. I can do it often, but after completing one trick, (regardless if I pull it off perfectly or not) I get too shakey to move on to any other trick right away and the shaking is very noticeable.

Aside from medication (which I am told is available, but does have side-effects that I would like to avoid) are there any techniques or tips for training yourself to remain steady/still for extended periods of time?
Message: Posted by: Fredrick (Jul 23, 2006 06:46PM)

From your post, I am not certain if what you are describing is a symptom of a health ailment or stage fright. If it is the former, I would recommend that you speak to a physician. If it is the latter, then there are many tips and techniques available to you. These range from solid practice and rehearsal until its second nature to meditation to other speaking and theatre tools.

Please let me know which symptom you are experiencing and I am sure we can move from here.

All the best ~ Fredrick
Message: Posted by: Jaypoc (Jul 23, 2006 11:27PM)
I have spoken to doctors and they don't see it as a real problem, though there is medication available. I believe a lot of it may be more like some form of stage fright because I can perform one trick/sleight with no problem. It's after the trick is a success that I get jittery.

I can demonstrate techniques to friends who are also into it (i.e. Pressure Fans, Shooting Cards, Dealing, Shuffling, etc) Also, depending on what the effect is, I can keep going without any problem (i.e. Hot Rod, TT stuff, etc..), but if I'm doing something that's more tricky or involves me thinking it through more, the shaking gets very noticeable (and sometimes it gets in the way).

It's very possible that it's just lack of confidence or practice, so I try to practice more and more before showing the effect to anybody and even then, only when I'm comfortable with it.

I would be interested in some pointers or techniques used in theatre or meditation to try to keep it under control as I never experienced it to the level I do now.
Message: Posted by: magicalaurie (Jul 27, 2006 11:01PM)
I'd suggest a focus on breathing technique. Deep breaths. Should help if the origin is stage-fright. Physical and vocal warm-ups can help you relax and get "present", as well. Proper breathing is a fundament of those. :)
Message: Posted by: Fredrick (Aug 4, 2006 04:55PM)

Magicalaurie's recommendation is solid. Check out local community college programs and continuing education outlets for resources in breathing as well as yoga and tai chi.

Your statement about practice and rehearsal is right on the money. I always follow the advice of magical teacher, Eugene Burger - when you think you are ready to perform a new effect, wait and practice and rehearse for another month. The routine will be second nature by then.

I also find that I need to rehearse pocket/case management. If I know exactly where something is going to be everytime, I feel a lot more relaxed.

All the best ~ Fredrick
Message: Posted by: Gerald (Aug 11, 2006 08:59AM)
Assuming that you have no physiological problems that cause the shaking, let me offer a few suggestions. I’m no “guru” with this subject matter, but these suggestions have helped others who have had problems similar to yours. These ideas can certainly do no harm and might help to alleviate the problem.

Obviously, practice and rehearse all the necessary elements for successful performance. For quite some time, perform only the tricks which you have prepared and do not cause you to shake. This will train and program your body to “recognize” the performing situation and associate a calm, controlled attitude with that situation. This use of NPL has helped some folks with this problem.

Beyond that, if your “internal script” (what you are thinking as you perform) is something like: “I hope I don’t make a mistake. I hope I can impress people with my skill and astound them without shaking.” Change this internal script to: “What can I do to best entertain these folks? How can I use magic to project the entertaining aspects of my personality?”

When your “internal script” focuses on connecting with the spectators, drawing them into your frame of reference and getting them to like you, your focus becomes “outward” instead of “inward.” Inward focus is the cause of much nervousness. When you change this to an outward focus, the nervousness can subside.

Without question, the technical aspects of the tricks must be skillfully executed. But this should not be your main internal focus as you perform. After you have practiced and rehearsed, your focus should be on projecting your personality, connecting with the spectators and entertaining them. The focus is off the technical aspects of the magic which might cause the shaking problem. Use your magic only as a vehicle to connect with people and project your personality.

If there are no physiological problems, then this change of focus from “inward” to “outward” could be the key to controlling the shaking problem. When you have this “outward” focus, your nervous problems might subside. The spectators will have more fun and so will you!

I hope you find these thoughts worth your consideration. I sincerely hope these suggestions help to alleviate your problem.

Message: Posted by: tropicalpenguin (Aug 17, 2006 09:42AM)
100% right on.
Happened to me to early in my career (that is, three years ago, when I finally buckled down and started performing to other students in the halls.) A lot of it I attributed to excitement. I would get so excited about their reactions that the adrenaline would start flowing, increasing my heart rate and causing visible shaking. On a couple of occasions, this happened and so I moved to something I had worked on for years that was tried and true (usually, just something that would involve maybe one sleight and that was it).

What helped me was, just like Gerald said, I stopped focusing on how my method was and how the angles were and things like that. Before you start doing actual routines, you should have each and every one of those effects worked up so that they are second nature. You should have seen how long I just sat in my room doing fans. Now, I can do it without even thinking about it.

Remember this: Magic is about the magician, and not the effect. People remember the name of the magician that truly amazed them, even though they may not remember what he has done
Message: Posted by: Jaypoc (Aug 17, 2006 03:29PM)
I do suspect some of my problem being physiological, although like Tropicalpenguin said, I think the excitement of the spectator's reaction does make it worse.

The guys I work with all know that I'm into magic and I can show the older "practiced" tricks without getting the shakes as bad but when I show something new, I'm a bit shakier and when I get that "WOW, Oh My God" excitement, I get shakey to the part I have difficulty doing much of anything with my hands (overexagerated).

I do appreciate the advise and tips, and still look foward to any other input, ideas or tips anybody has. So far, so good.
Message: Posted by: Steve V (Aug 17, 2006 05:31PM)
I'm sorry, do you have a physical disorder or just get shakey when performing?
Steve V
Message: Posted by: Jaypoc (Aug 18, 2006 10:30AM)
On 2006-08-17 18:31, Steve V wrote:
I'm sorry, do you have a physical disorder or just get shakey when performing?
Steve V

I don't really know. I experience the shaking usually when I'm *trying* to be still (at least that's when I notice it)... I have trouble soldering, etc.. I have no problem assembling electronics otherwise, I noticed it happening a lot after I perform card magic for people.. I'm usually fine during the trick itself, but once I get the reaction, I get so shakey that I can't do another trick.

I also haven't noticed it with gimmicked magic as much, so I suspect it may be more in my head/nerves than physiological as I'm just starting to work with cards.
Message: Posted by: Steve V (Aug 18, 2006 01:02PM)
Sounds like anxiety. The soldering iron could cause a burn, takes concientration, and also it is noticable if you mess up. You may just need more confidant in your moves, so that you don't' even think about it. This may sound odd but close up should almost be like driving. You know when you stop at a red light and the next thing you know you are past the intersection as it turned green but you didn't even really notice that you saw it changed, checked cross traffic, then started driving....it is so engrained you just do it on auto pilot.
Steve V
Message: Posted by: tropicalpenguin (Aug 18, 2006 11:15PM)

I've been doing card magic since 3rd grade (so.... 10 years) and so things like DL's have gotten automatic. A lot of times, the anxiety would kick in over something brand new that I hadn't had time to check out yet. But, if I did something I'd been doing for years, then it was fine.

It HAS to be automatic. Again, I speak of a DL. Once it gets to the point where you don't even think about it anymore, then start performing it.

That said, a lot of that shakiness will go away with practice. This means that you should simply perform and you will notice that the shakes will start to go away. This is because the audience reactions are becoming part of the routine. You get used to how they will react (although it is ALWAYS thrilling to watch someone scream... heh, that never gets old :) )

So keep performing. Though, as a suggestion, I would perform your well-practiced bits in your routine and add a newer bit at the end so you can get used to reactions, then start adding more and more of those newer bits. Eventually, you will get to a point where you can interchange effects almost at will.
Message: Posted by: Circus Bambouk (Feb 5, 2007 03:28PM)
Physiologically, it could be dehydration or potassium deficiency, both of which affect my mime and living statue work.

I'm not anything CLOSE to being a doctor or a nutritionist; these are just things I've noticed about myself and my peers.

Message: Posted by: Robert Kohler (Apr 11, 2007 05:42PM)
If it's mental, meditation can really work - it seems to take the edge, or the twisted payoff of anxiety, away. Strange, but true................
Message: Posted by: honus (Dec 19, 2007 10:20AM)
On 2006-07-24 00:27, Jaypoc wrote:
I have spoken to doctors and they don't see it as a real problem, though there is medication available. I believe a lot of it may be more like some form of stage fright because I can perform one trick/sleight with no problem. It's after the trick is a success that I get jittery.[/quote]

When you say you've spoken to doctors, do you mean you've actually had a physical and gotten worked up for this, or that you've just asked them about it in passing? Tremors can be a sign of many things, including Parkinson's, which comes to mind simply because of the way it gets worse the more you try to stop it.

If it really, truly is just nervousness, take the advice of others and 1) learn breathing and relaxation exercises, and 2) practice your routines until they're second nature. But I'd hate for you to miss an important health issue. Good luck!
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Mar 23, 2008 08:41PM)
First of all, if this problem continues, see if there is a pathological basis for it. Assuming that there isn't, then the basis is internal.

So, what do you do about that? Well, you have to examine the roots of the internal problem. Why would you exhibit tremors only AFTER a successful performance?

I've been through some of this, myself, so maybe I can help you. Apparently, there is a deep-seated mechanism that is telling you this while you are performing.

"Okay, I have to do that sleight there. Got it! Okay, now I have to do that one without getting caught. Got it!" and you are concentrating on the mechanics of the trick until you get to the end. Then, you realize "I DID IT!!! I FOOLED THEM!!!" and now the adrenaline you have built up begins to manifest itself. This may be further complicated by thoughts of "OH NO!!! I DID A GOOD ONE!!! NOW, I HAVE TO DO [b]ANOTHER[/b] GOOD ONE!!!! WHAT WILL I DO????"

So, you really aren't ready. If you are performing for people that you work with or go to school with, you have an additional set of problems. They know you. They know that you don't have magical powers. So you have to overcome that as well.

So, do this:
1) Don't perform for your co-workers for a while.
2) Script everything, internally and verbally.
3) Practice your material so it is as smooth as glass.
4) Rehearse your material.

Practice until it becomes boring, then practice until it becomes beautiful.

Once the material is firmly set, you will feel much more comfortable performing it.
Message: Posted by: Pat Perry (Oct 10, 2010 10:17AM)
It may help to know that even the current FISM Grand Prix Winner has this "problem". Specially when a camera is very close to your hands, it's hard to hide.

I'm woking now for 20 years as a professional. And even with all this experience, from time to time my hands start to shake a little bit. It's most of the time the pressure I built up myself. To make things better, be more precise, do a perfect job. I found a solution for me: Fist I concentrate to my breathing and second I try to step beside me and analyze the situation. Intern monologue:"Hey man, what's up. These are just normal people. You're in a situation you have been hundred times before. They like what you do." This helps me to land and get grounded. This precedere takes only a few secondes but helps me to find back into a more relaxed status.
Message: Posted by: gcordingley (Oct 11, 2010 07:20PM)
As an amateur returning to magic after decades of work in another field of endeavor, I'm often out of my element in reading your magical posts. But it turns out that my other field of endeavor has been neurology, so tremor is a subject I actually know something about. I have attached an essay I wrote and posted on my practice website that you might find useful. Please feel free to PM me if you are so inclined. Best wishes.
Message: Posted by: MagicJuggler (Jun 24, 2011 06:12AM)
One thing you can do for a more steady hand is to RELAX. If you are trying to stay still and are nervous or filled with adrenaline you will over correct and shake slightly. Just like if you open your hand widely and hold your fingers stiffly you will notice a slight tremor, any time your muscles 'lock up' you're going to have some slight trembling. As a contact juggler of many years, an art form that requires a very relaxed steady hand in order to look smooth, I teach the use of what I call 'relaxed tension.' I teach this when I show someone how to hold a ball at the fingertips or on the back of the hand. Basically you just remember that holding a ball is actually easy, and so you stop trying so hard. You use just enough energy to hold the ball and no more, anything more leads to over correction and poor balance.
So long as your problem is not neurological trying to apply this to your magic, or even your soldering may help you improve in keeping your hands steady.
Of course if you are not well prepared to perform relaxing can be very difficult. So make sure you are well prepared (and there's already a lot of good advice for that so far in this thread) and then be sure to remind yourself that you are already good at this and shouldn't have to feel nervous.
Message: Posted by: Jim Sparx (Feb 29, 2012 08:35AM)
If you have a community college close to you take a speech class, or even acting classes. Nervousness is a sign of being unprepared. If you know what you are doing - you will be less likely to be nervous. For example, if you are giving a speech about a certain period of history and you know the subject, you will be less nervous. All great entertainers have a few moments of stage fright when they first go on. If someone tells you they don't, they are most likely a liar.
Now here is the good part about stage fright. Right now you are thinking of it as a negative, think of it as a positive. Instead of nervousness, think of it as excitement. If you are excited about performing or giving a speech and you know what you are doing (hence, practice), then your nervousness will have become excitement. The more you practice in front of people the less of an effect, physiologically. But, you do not want to lose that edge, the excitement of entertaining. I would say instead of trying to relax, try to be more nervous, that is, more excited. That BTW is called reverse psychology. Doing more of what you are afraid of, or what you think is causing your failure. Good luck.
Message: Posted by: P.Jane (Jul 20, 2020 02:12PM)
Breathing is the key here!