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Topic: The unteachable essentials
Message: Posted by: Terrible Wizard (Mar 30, 2015 03:47PM)
Lots of things in magic are simply a matter of knowledge and persistence.

But there do appear to be some things that make all the difference that can't be taught ... Learned and improved, perhaps, but not taught.

In my opinon, these 'x factors' would include:

Confidence and charisma

Two absolutely essential ingredients for any performer, but which seem (to me) to be far more about innate skills, or self-developed experiential learning, than didactic instruction.

Yet without them magic is pretty nigh impossible.

Am I wrong?
Message: Posted by: Tom Fenton (Mar 30, 2015 04:09PM)
Timing is another.
Message: Posted by: silvercup (Mar 30, 2015 04:33PM)
[quote]

Am I wrong? [/quote]

Nope.
Learning physical things can gain you confidence.
Learning life can gain you charisma.
Message: Posted by: silvercup (Mar 30, 2015 04:34PM)
I believe if you can tell a joke you can perform magic.
Not that magic is a joke but same skill set.
Message: Posted by: Theodore Lawton (Mar 30, 2015 05:14PM)
Knowing how to quickly read people is another. People can "tell" you how to read people or can write a book on it, but it's really something you have to learn for yourself by trial and error and interaction.

This includes all those touchy areas like knowing when it's okay to approach and perform for people, people who say it's okay, but are only being polite and would rather not be bothered, knowing when to quit, etc.
Message: Posted by: Terrible Wizard (Mar 31, 2015 03:28AM)
Now we're decided on that, the key question becomes how can one develop/learn (though not obviously be taught) those things if one doesn't naturally posses them?

For example, silver cup you say physical skill breeds confidence. To a degree this is true, but it's not the whole story. For example I can do one handed riffles all day long but I have very little confidence in performing magic in front of people - it's a pretty big deal for me to do that (even though I do public speaking for a living, weird), and no matter how well practised I am with a trick it's always very different when done for real.

I lack confidence to do magic for strangers, say as a paid performer (I've never had the courage to try and do magic professionally), yet the only way to gain confidence is to do it ... A catch 22 situation. How does one get enough confidence to get confidence - this, more than anything, seems to me to be the hobbyists greatest hurdle.
Message: Posted by: george1953 (Mar 31, 2015 06:49AM)
Unfortunately the only way is to get out there and do it. Its a bit like the watch steal, you just have to go out and do it. Sure its very intimidating at firs but the more you do it the easier it becomes.
Message: Posted by: Terrible Wizard (Mar 31, 2015 07:15AM)
Yeah, that's the catch 22! To get the confidence to do it you have to do it ... But how to get that initial confidence, now that's the real trick!
Message: Posted by: harris (Mar 31, 2015 09:14AM)
Timing... yes

Time on stage ...also yes
Message: Posted by: 1KJ (Mar 31, 2015 09:42AM)
The things that you say can't be taught, I believe they can be taught... or more accurately, developed.

There are tricks or "strategies" to develop skills. For example: Confidence and Charisma: I have given many speaches and done many performances over the years, starting as a young teenager. At first, I was paralyzed by fear. As a teenager, my drama teacher coached me through the fear. She had me imagine everyone in the audience was naked. She also had me watch people who didn't look nervous on stage, but who were. It helped me realize that what I'm thinking in my head isn't what people see. I think my hands are shaking, but they can't see it. It took many, many performances on stage to get over stage freight. I don't think you ever completely get over stage fright, but you get tot he point where the tension is exciting and not crippling.

Charisma comes from learning how to be engaging with an audience. As a magician, think about how people think, and think about how you can turn that into something you can connect with them. For example, I do a rubber band routine that has a gag in the middle. The audience clearly sees that the moment was not magical. I say: "I know what you are thinking... you are thinking that the rubber band is gimmicked, but it's not." It gets a huge laugh because it is connecting with the audience's mind and then twisting it around. To have more charisma, watch comedians or other entertainers with charisma. See how they connect with the audience. Charisma is the combination of confidence which CAN be developed and cleverly connecting with the audience which CAN be learned.

To say that these things can't be learned is a cop out to not put in the time, effort, and work.

KJ
Message: Posted by: Terrible Wizard (Mar 31, 2015 10:58AM)
1KJ:

Good practical advice. Yes, developed though not taught.

Public speaking can certainly be developed - I lecture for a living, and am much better now than I was when I first began. But the usual strategies don't seem to work for me regarding magic ... Not sure why.

Is it a cop-out?

No, I don't believe it is. I lack confidence, possibly I lack the confidence required to do the things that develop confidence. How does one get out of that pickle?
Message: Posted by: harris (Mar 31, 2015 12:06PM)
You can

A. think yourself into a new behavior
or
B. Act your self into new thinking.

or
C. use both
Message: Posted by: Terrible Wizard (Mar 31, 2015 12:46PM)
Sure - many say so, many claim it has worked for them. But any practical details that have proved effective for you would be welcome - I've tried a variety of self-help style positive thinking techniques to little avail ...
Message: Posted by: Tom Fenton (Mar 31, 2015 01:20PM)
Experience is an excellent teacher.
Message: Posted by: harris (Mar 31, 2015 01:40PM)
Experience is related to act your way to different thinking. (what you referred to as self help)
Message: Posted by: Terrible Wizard (Mar 31, 2015 02:12PM)
True. And both are required ... But the first few steps, how to make them ...
Message: Posted by: harris (Mar 31, 2015 03:14PM)
I read the OP again

My new answer is you can do great magic ( the nuts and bolts)
With out confidence and charisma.

What does your experience say?
Message: Posted by: Terrible Wizard (Mar 31, 2015 03:18PM)
My experience ... That I can do passable magic in comfortable environments on a good day, but lack the courage and presence to do good magic to the general public.
Message: Posted by: davidpaul$ (Mar 31, 2015 04:29PM)
I vividly remember speaking to a large group. ( Didn't do it often at that time) and I "blanked". I lost my train of thought, had the physical manifestations of panic and couldn't go on. It was terrible and I apologized to the group. Anyway after that experience and afterthought I realized the sun came up the next day, I wasn't hurt (physically) in any way and really learned from that very traumatic experience. I learned that it's OK to fail.

Same with performing. Absolutely learn and practice to the best of your ability then you just have to risk it. The more times you perform in the midst of your fear and go for it anyway, regardless of the outcome you have WON! Keep on performing. Find places/ events (fundraisers, volunteer fire department carnivals, assistant living centers )to perform. The only answer, the only answer ( I know I said that twice) is to take the risk no matter the outcome. Eventually, if you stick with it, you'll be on the other side of what you are dealing with. There is no other way around it. It's either stay where you are or jump in...

But have fun!!!!!!!
Message: Posted by: MGordonB (Mar 31, 2015 07:46PM)
I think one of the problems that a lot of us have is that we are afraid to make mistakes, to look bad in front of other people, to fail even. This is something that we have to get over because it is only by making mistakes and failing from time to time that we learn, improve, and get better. We have to jump in the metaphorical deep end of the pool and just go for it.

Iím not especially confident in my magical abilities and Iím probably overly hard on myself to boot. But I have gone ahead an done a few performances, mostly for family, friends and co-workers (I do a volunteer show each year as part of a work fund raiser). Some tricks have bombed, but in general Iíve done alright. Every time I do a performance I can feel myself getting better. When I first started, I used a S******* deck to force cards, now using an ordinary deck and basic skills I can control a card to the top and bottom then force it.

I think the other thing we need to remember is that we are really doing magic to entertain ordinary people, not necessarily to impress other magicians. Laypeople arenít as tuned into techniques as other magicians are. I noted above that I can control a card, my shuffling technique though is somewhat messy. While Iíve been able to do tricks for ordinary folks using this control, I wouldnít dare use it in front of my uncle who is a magician.

The bottom line is, that it shouldnít necessarily be about technical skills. It needs to be more about the performance, the story, the jokes, the interaction with the audience. If confidence in technical skills are creating challenges in gaining experience on the performance side, then maybe use some alternatives to help you get over the hump. Iíve gotten away with a 1 way force deck on numerous occasions Ė some of you might think this is cheating or not real magic, but I wasnít trying to impress another magician and since I didnít need to worry about where the desired card was I was able to focus on my presentation.
Message: Posted by: Bogbadger (Apr 4, 2015 03:09AM)
I try to use magic with strangers whenever I can to help build my confidence and get through an almost painful shyness I've had all my life. I travel a lot for work and eat out at pubs and restaurants so have ample opportunity to interact with people I'm probably never going to meet again. Sometimes it can be incredibly hard to take that step to talk to a complete stranger and even harder to ask them if they would like to see a trick, but in my experience it can be really worthwhile.
Message: Posted by: landmark (Apr 9, 2015 08:29PM)
Fail. Fail again. Fail better.
Message: Posted by: Dťclic (Apr 19, 2015 03:32PM)
At last, you have to know how to let go and do the things primarily for you.
You have to do good for your public, but you should only judge yourself by your own satisfaction. The audience might be satisfied and you not.
You have to have confidence in general in yourself.
And so, just go and try it, after sufficient practice. It won't be perfect at first but it can be (has to be) good enough for the audience to feel something.

Also, you have to learn to learn, so you can judge when you practiced enough and what could be improved. If you just do that by repeat and trial and error, it's not good.
Because there is more than "not doing mistakes". There's "knowing what mistakes can happen and how", and "what can I do more so it's even better that now".
If you have confidence in your manner of learning, you can have confidence in what you learn.
Extending that, you have no more problems in performing it.
But I guess you are also in fear of the audience opinion, however you would really perform.

If you have beliefs about what people think about magicians, find them and change them if they are not positive.
You have plenty examples that show that magic is widely appreciated, and you don't have be Dai Vernon to be good.
Message: Posted by: wk3 (May 5, 2015 08:05AM)
[quote]On Mar 31, 2015, MGordonB wrote:
I think one of the problems that a lot of us have is that we are afraid to make mistakes, to look bad in front of other people, to fail even. This is something that we have to get over because it is only by making mistakes and failing from time to time that we learn, improve, and get better. We have to jump in the metaphorical deep end of the pool and just go for it.

Iím not especially confident in my magical abilities and Iím probably overly hard on myself to boot. But I have gone ahead an done a few performances, mostly for family, friends and co-workers (I do a volunteer show each year as part of a work fund raiser). Some tricks have bombed, but in general Iíve done alright. Every time I do a performance I can feel myself getting better. When I first started, I used a S******* deck to force cards, now using an ordinary deck and basic skills I can control a card to the top and bottom then force it. [/quote]

This. Thanks for sharing. It's exactly how I feel. I started getting out to the streets to share my magic with others. And it's really tough getting started b/c I'm afraid of failing. But once I get started, it's always a lot of fun. And when I do mess up, it's never that bad. Just laugh at myself and move on :)
Message: Posted by: harris (May 7, 2015 08:22PM)
Being comfortable while uncomfortable and going on.

This can be during
A. First few moments of a routine
B. When something unplanned happens such as
C. A spectators response
D. After the audience vanishes and you review the
good - bad - and ugly of a show.
1. The uglies of past show have taught me much including
letting go.
Message: Posted by: andreyduarte (May 8, 2015 09:33AM)
A good trick (pun intended) to gain confidence I've came across is to perform to people ou will never see again, like in the bus stop, or at a party, because if you fail... well, you will never see them again! Just take a deep breath, get your deck of cards and say "Hi, can I show you guys an awesome thing?".
It helped me a lot, I hope it can help you too. :)
Message: Posted by: Ed_Millis (May 9, 2015 05:02PM)
This is where you transition from a trickster to a performer. If you are a teacher or speaker, you have a persona or character established for you, and you walk out in the confidence of that. If you're just showing off tricks, then the skill of doing the trick is what it's all about.

But as soon as you become a performer with a character that must adapt to and interact with the audience while delivering entertaining material, everything changes. It's a much more fluid environment (in most cases), and requires a different skill set. We are used to hiding behind what we can do -- but performers use their persona as the stage that a trick is shown on. A performer can't hide - and that scares many people back into hiding behind tricks.

Ed
Message: Posted by: TheRaven (May 10, 2015 08:19PM)
Teaching doesn't just have to be in a classroom. A teacher can watch you perform and coach you to get better -- that is teaching also.