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Topic: The Problem With Mirror Practice
Message: Posted by: Brad Burt (Jul 1, 2007 04:15PM)
The Problem With Mirror Practice
By Brad Burt
Copyright 2006

One of those things that you get early on in magic is how to use mirrors for practice. It used to be the common opinion that you would practice with them in front of you. There are several problems in using mirrors for practice.

The number one reason I advocate against its use for more than a QUICK CHECK UP of a move is that it makes you aware of only that one angle. It's much better to practice without a mirror so that your awareness is much more global. Consider the next sentence: YOU are not YOUR audience. Think about that carefully. In many cases the only audience a lot of magicians have IS themselves! That's ok and if you are the only person who ever sees what you do magically then consider that angles are simply NOT a problem! If you can't fool yourself then you are in a really bad place. LOL

What you want is TOTAL angle AWARENESS. If you are going to do routines that have an element of 'anglyness' to them then you have to become aware of what those angles are and how to get around them.

Here is an odd little method of becoming angle aware that I used in my early days to force me to pay attention to the space all around me: What you do is pick some things that you will now pretend are spectators. A bunch of Beanie Babies is perfect! Place them at different heights around you in about a 200 degree arc. Place some as if it is the face of folks standing and some as if sitting. I used about 15 brightly colored blocks and used tables and chairs, etc.

Now, you perform FOR those 'spectators' using the differing heights as your referent as you work. What this does is makes more tangible the type of situations that a close-up guy in particular gets into. I have had shows that had folks sitting at a dinning room table with other folks all around. I had just about every angle that you can imagine including folks behind me! Still I worked standing and was able to load my Chop Cup, etc. without any problem.

Afterthoughts: With the advent of inexpensive, even cheap video cameras and the ability to hook them up to a small (or large) T.V. as a monitor the concept of Mirror Practice has jetted into the late 20th and now 21st centuries. The camera is, I believe, a better help with practice, but the exact same problems noted above STILL adhere. The one angle focus of the camera in no way helps one become globally cognizant of ALL the angles that one has to deal with.

The obvious help here with a camera and ability to record what one is doing in performance is to record a performance over and over using a differing angle each time and thus being able to check not only the differing angles, but the overall changes in the various performances! Good luck and good magic,