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Topic: Card Sleights: The Phases of Practice
Message: Posted by: Ade2010 (Jan 20, 2010 04:45AM)
When practicing a new sleight I generally find the best approach is the following:

First Phase: Perform the sleight whilst looking at your hands, without talking.
Second Phase: Perform the sleight [i]without[/i] looking at your hands, without talking.
Third Phase: Perform the sleight [i]without[/i] looking at your hands, whilst pattering at the same time.

Anybody have a different approach?
Message: Posted by: InventorRu (Jan 20, 2010 12:27PM)
I come to this discipline not having learned many sleights of hand but having spent most of my time in the past learning various different skills such as balancing for my cabaret act. There are however similarities in approach.
I read your three phases with interest and recognize them but feel its vital to add a fourth which I always include once I can do a skill completely. Phase four would then be to increase the mental demands whilst rehearsing.
To give a couple of examples which I hope give some idea what I mean.
1. Having mastered a section of my balancing act completely I would then use some chairs or tables to encroach on the area I require,thus demanding more spatial awareness from me.
2.My balancing act requires me to move around quite a lot within a given area so I would then suspend a harmless object such as a football somewhere within my practice area to give myself a distraction.
3.My act happens to be to music so I will also do run throughs where I turn the music way down so I'm struggling to hear it properly.

These are just a couple of ideas of the many I have tried. In other words they are tasks which take a bit more of my attention then afterwards when I return to 'normal' conditions the skill seems easier.

I'm not quite sure how I would apply this thinking to sleights but my first approach having mastered the move would be to dramatically change the lighting, either very dark or very bright.
Another idea which might be fun is to get a friend over and get him to try and distract you whilst you run through but I think it would need to be more structured than just him trying to make you laugh. He might hold an object like say an umbrella really close to you while you run thru which would be quite a distraction.
I hope this leads to some great practice

I look forward to hearing more.
Message: Posted by: Ade2010 (Jan 21, 2010 03:51AM)
Hi InventorRu

Interesting, very interesting.

I like your idea, kind of like an 'overtraining' phase. I studied the Martial arts for several years (Kendo and Kung Fu), and I used similar techniques to learn new moves.

I can see how this would be useful for a balancing act, due to the constant demands upon your attention (constantly making tiny adjustments to your stance etc).

As far as a close-up card act goes, I think your idea could be applied by getting someone to act as a rowdy spectator/ heckler. They would try to disrupt the performers train of thought as the act is performed. This could possibly help the performer to learn how to deal with unexpected distractions. Another way of doing this (and a real good way to test one's 'chops') is to perform for children. They are a lot less recticant about pointing out errors!
Message: Posted by: InventorRu (Jan 21, 2010 07:42AM)
Hi Ade2010,
Yeah..i like the idea of getting children to give you feed back.You might be able do a free show and say
"Look..i'm a magician and I need your help because I'm getting a new show ready.If you watch first and then tell me everything you see but you must stay in you seats(thats part of the deal) and then I'm going to turn in this new direction and show you again"
that's quite interesting and might show up something you hadn't realised.It would be good to try.
I also like the idea of your friend playing the role of a heckler because whatever interuption he makes would be unexpected.I think you would have to warn him to go easy to start with...otherwise I could see you both collapsing into fits of giggles.
Best of luck
Message: Posted by: kal (Feb 20, 2011 10:14AM)
I would certainly add:

4. Record yourself.

While this could fall under 'rehearsal', when it comes to sleights, angles need to be discovered and more importantly, mistakes. If not caught early your will simply be repeating a flawed sleight over and over again without knowing it. By the time, if ever, you catch your problem you will have hours and hours of muscle memory to break down and retrain.

For example, the classic pass. Learn the move slowly, then a bit faster until you know the basic mechanics of it. No speed, just the movements. Then watch yourself in the mirror. What is flashing, etc. And continue. Once speed is build up, and your mirror practice seems fine, record yourself. The cold hard mechanical eye will not be forgiving. At this stage you have to differentiate between what is beginners handling flaws that will pass with time against what is a genuine flaw that will later NOT get better.

I also like Ru's 'overtraining' method, if purely for confidence. Bad lights, lots of sound, need to repeat a sentence, heckler? No problem, I remember practicing for this once or twice!
Message: Posted by: Jaz (Feb 21, 2011 02:52PM)
The first could be
1) Do any placements, shuffles and any other actions for real to see how it should appear.
Message: Posted by: TheGreatRaymondo (Dec 1, 2011 11:41AM)
One idea I use is to perform the trick / effect in full complete with patter with either the TV or radio turned up loud.
This in some way compensates for the real life external environment in which we perform and it can be very distracting (just as things can when performing live!)- if I can perform to a standard I am happy with (sometimes I tape it on video for playback analysis) under these conditions then I'm pretty sure I'm ready to go.
Try it and see what you think. It's harder to do than it sounds.
Message: Posted by: Simon Southern Moss (Jul 18, 2012 07:42AM)
I agree with everything posted here. I find that I like to break for a few weeks before I shift from one phase to another. After the break, everything feels a bit more natural
Message: Posted by: jugglestruck (Aug 5, 2012 02:46AM)
On 2012-07-18 08:42, Simon Southern Moss wrote:
I agree with everything posted here. I find that I like to break for a few weeks before I shift from one phase to another. After the break, everything feels a bit more natural

This is very similar to juggling practice......enforcing a break of a few weeks helps enormously in the long term when learning new moves.
Message: Posted by: Philip Busk (Sep 8, 2012 02:12PM)
I too find video to be very critical. It's so nice to have all the technology compared to when I was a kid and only had a mirror and an annoying brother fro critique.
Message: Posted by: SheldonR (Oct 29, 2012 10:23AM)
Video is an important part of my practice. I hadn't considered the heckler idea, but I like it. I'm always worried something crazy would happen to completely break my concentration.
Message: Posted by: joesquire (Nov 14, 2012 11:35PM)
I found one of the best ways to create muscle memory is to practice while watching TV. TV engages the brain (but not too much!) and allows you to practice longer before it feels too repetitive.

But that monotonous repetition gets burned into your subconscious (or the cockles of your heart, or wherever it gets burned)