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Topic: Mentor question
Message: Posted by: chiartguy (Mar 2, 2016 04:41PM)
I have a question for you more experienced magicians who've mentored beginners over the years...

When you're approached by someone who is interested in learning from you, are you more likely to take them on if A) they're relatively familiar with several tricks and have learned some basic sleights and have some performance experience, OR B) they're fairly inexperienced but are eager to listen and learn?

In other words, do you prefer to see some proof of skill/commitment up front or do you prefer a "clean slate" with no bad habits? Or do most of you just take each mentee on a case-by-case basis?

I'm sure there are a variety of opinions out there on this topic and I'd like to hear your perspective as I'm contemplating when to approach a couple potential serious mentors myself in the near future.
Message: Posted by: funsway (Mar 2, 2016 06:18PM)
The key is to have a clear understanding of what is expected from both participants.

Personally, I only work on one effect at a time, exploring all facets until mastered or abandoned. Then they get another one.

While a number of specific effects may be on the wish list, most often what is learned from emersion in one effect suggests the next.

Face-to-face I might accept a mentee with little experience. My youngest was a 9 year old girl -- the oldest 82 and in a wheel chair.

A Skype and Internet mentee should be able to demonstrate an understanding of basic principles and theory in several disciplines

I have taken on mentees exclusively for routine design and evaluation, but that is a bit different -- more like consulting.
Message: Posted by: davidpaul$ (Mar 2, 2016 10:07PM)
I have been asked several times if I give magic lessons. "MY" prerequisite is that they do have some sort of back ground and most importantly a respect for the art. I had one young man who was very eager and his parents were willing for me to teach him. I gave him some homework to look up the famous magicians of the past and to define for me some magic terminology and principles that I had given him.
I never heard back from them.
Message: Posted by: Russo (Mar 3, 2016 08:31AM)
From the Library -show them an EZ book on magic from the childrens section-(there are plenty of them- having worked p/t in a Library for 15 years- Magic doesn't always PAY --L-O-L) - if they can READ - have them show you an efffect or two, they learned from the book- if they can!! - TEACH them, as you can - if they cant - their too lazy to appreciate the Art of Magic. Ralph(russo)Rousseau
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Mar 3, 2016 01:55PM)
Over the past 50--60 years, I have mentored perhaps a dozen young guys. (I was too busy keeping my own show on the road to keep a strict count!

A half dozen are now successful, working professionals. The others are avid performing part time pro's. or avid amateurs.

ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS I TELL/TOLD THEM IS/WAS: (sorry Ralph) "I CANNOT T E A C H YOU ANYTHING!!!

I CAN HELP YOU LEARN!!! (See David Paul$'s post, and, also Ralph Rousseau's post above.)

SOPHOCLES said it, a few millenia ago: "ONE LEARNS BY DOING THE THING."

I would NEVER urge anyone, to "go pro.". That's a decision for a person to decide for him/her self.

First must come a good education!

I have no "set rules" about whom I choose to mentor. There are too many variables. It has always been a judgement call"! --And, so far, I've only missed once!

The kid is still trying to get into magic. I loaned him stuff which he has not returned. He begged me to sell him a few silks, etc. He was thrilled, but, 3 years later, he hasn't paid for them. I recommended him to Jeff McBride. Jeff gave him a substantial discount on tuition for his school. He never thanked me. THAT'S THE ONLY TIME THAT EVER HAPPENED.

Currently, I'm working with a young lad, who shows great promise. He listens, and, he thinks. He asks intelligent questions. He does his "homework". He's reading Tarbell! I have high hopes! Time will tell!!!
Message: Posted by: Pirouz (Mar 4, 2016 08:04PM)
I was approached by an eager high school male to teach him magic.
He was inexperienced and the only thing he did was "My Pet Boris".
Not exactly a magic trick but he was the center of attention.
He was the son of friends of our family.

He was very interested but once he learned a certain trick, his attention waned.
After a little while, I saw that he wasn't interested in putting in the time to practice.
He thought that once he knew how a trick was done, "he was a magician"
He started watching magic YouTube videos and his father was buying him all the tricks he asked for.
His parents figured that a hobby will keep him out of trouble.
Then, in his mind, he was "the expert" and proceeded to show me how it is to be done. Because it was on YouTube.
At that point we parted ways as teacher and student. But he still came over my house when his parents visited.

I then learned that he was doing magic tricks for his friends at high school.
He would then proceed to "teach" them how it is done. I told him about exposure but he couldn't help himself.
There's more to the story but I learned to screen any young people wanting to learn magic.
Message: Posted by: funsway (Mar 5, 2016 12:28AM)
Sad, Pirouz -- and I fear it will only get worse.

There are studies out on how many teens today have difficulty with Personality Development because of Social Media addiction.
They will endlessly try different false personalities seeking peer approval -- and doing magic tracks can be part of that. (tricks, not magic effects)

Imagination is weak, curiosity stultified and any sense of accountability replaced with an illusion of self.
Message: Posted by: chiartguy (Mar 8, 2016 02:36PM)
Thanks a bunch to all who've posted a response here so far. It's very helpful to hear about mentors' experiences, both good and bad. I'm definitely hoping to avoid any mistakes which would make me a less-than-favorable mentee.
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Mar 8, 2016 03:02PM)
Chiartguy....

PM me. There are 'things' that we should discuss.
Message: Posted by: DaveGripenwaldt (Mar 9, 2016 01:10PM)
Like has been said, it probably should be decided on a case by case basis, so no hard and fast rule would apply across the board.

That said, I lean toward introducing a little speed bump in the beginning, just to take a measurement of interest or commitment. That includes making sure they understood that the focus would be on the theater of the Art, not just "learn tricks". If that's what they want, I'd have the, learn a basic slight from a DVD or book or even youtube. The point is not that they perfect a move from those sources - that's what some of the time with me would be about - but to see if they actually put some work in on it.
Message: Posted by: JohnnyPD (Mar 27, 2016 01:39PM)
I really liked what davidpaul$ posted and the assignment he gave his potential student. I'm fairly new to magic as a performer, though I've always been very much of a fan and supporter. As I began learning the art of magic, I also began learning about the history of magic. For me that part of my education was as enjoyable as was learning the classic sleights.

Now I must confess that I've found myself viewing a video of some slick new trick on Penguin Magic or Ellusionist and have even bought one or two, but I've also been rigorous in my studies of the classics, such as the Royal Road, Tarbell, Bobo, and others. I did take the visual path for some of those and bought the video of the same name. They stay true to the book, but just make it a bit easier to figure out some of those moves described in print.

I just felt it was important in learning the art of magic to actually learn the art, not just learn tricks. Learning about the important artists of the past, from Robert Houdin to Dai Vernon, was as equally important as was learning some sleight. I also found it equally as enjoyable. I'm a bit of a history buff anyway, so learning the history of magic appealed to me on several levels. It maybe that part of the reason I'm taking this approach of love and appreciation and of honor and respect, is my age. I've come to magic as a performer quite late in my life. A number of things came together to bring me to magic. I know many magicians are not fans of the crop of YouTube "magicians" who are teaching or revealing magic, but it was through watching some of these videos that I began my interest and journey to the art of magic. There is one card guy on YouTube who I think is doing what he's doing with great respect for the art AND he's put together a really great visual course in card magic. His YouTube name is 52Kards. That got me kind of hooked and then I picked up some recommendations for some good books to start learning about magic and one of them was Mark Wilson's Complete Course in Magic. In the beginning of his book (maybe in the forward) Mark talks about his grandkids and how they look upon him as the "cool" or "fun" grandpa cause he does magic. Since I too had recently become a grandfather to two grandkids (twins - boy and a girl) and would be competing (so to speak) with other grandparents, I thought this would be one way I could set myself apart.

My grandkids are three years old now and I have shown them a visual trick or two (thumbtip), I'm waiting until they're a bit older and I'm a bit better, before introducing them to the art of magic. Perhaps I might just be starting one of the next generation's world's greatest magician on his or her course. I just hope they come to love magic as I do.

Perhaps that is the operative word or question that a potential mentor could ask of an inquiring potential student, "Do you truly love magic?" How did you come to love magic and what do you love about magic? If someone asked me those questions, then they'd better sit back, relax, and get comfortable, because... my answer won't be short... and you asked...
Message: Posted by: danaruns (Apr 3, 2016 12:20PM)
I'm no mentor. I'm a mentee and definitely a student, not a master. This is one mentee's POV about how I have gotten some pretty great mentors. Your mileage may vary.

I have a few different mentors. Most of them are well known, and you all know their names and their work. None of them put "roadblocks" or "tests" before me, and I would not have reacted well if they had. But I am not a child, I am a mature professional, so perhaps the dynamic is different because of that. Each of my mentors offers something different, and I eagerly soak up what they have to give, but I don't adopt any one person's ways. For instance, one of my mentors is a journeyman technician and another is a more spiritual "magic is a way of life" guy. I make each of their approaches part of my own approach and hope to reach a gestalt from it. I have my own voice, and my fidelity is to that, but I have tremendous respect for others' voices. When they see me, they see others people's work in me, not just theirs. I think that's respected by my mentors, as they can see I'm a serious student of the art. That's probably the most important thing, being a serious student of the art. At least, that works for me, and no one has indicated that they do not like mentoring me. We both seem to have fun when we are together, and I think that's a reflection that they feel I'm a good use of their time.

My guess is that the reason these famous working folks have taken me on is because I have and show great respect for their process, and appreciation for all the hard work that has gone into honing their own skills and approaches. Everyone reacts well to respect. I'm there to learn, with no ego, but neither am I star struck. When I come back, I have always practiced and improved. I show that I am dedicated. To meet with one mentor, I have to travel to Vegas (from L.A.). It's a pretty big undertaking just to get a lesson from him and I've had to alter my life to do it (I do not do Skype lessons, as face-to-face is important to me). I think he respects the effort and the fact that I'm seeking very specific things from him -- things that make him him, which is different than just learning tricks or techniques. Another local mentor recently taught me a McDonalds Aces routine that does not use gimmicked cards, but any random deck, and has eight different sleights in it to get the effect. It's a fairly technical method. So when I come back the following week and demonstrate that I can not only do the moves but have put them together smoothly with my own patter, I think that makes my mentor feel that the time he puts into me is rewarding to him, because he sees something tangible come from it. Anyone who has built something knows the satisfaction of stepping back and seeing the tangible results of their work. I try to be the tangible result of their efforts. It gives them satisfaction. Everyone likes to see that their efforts have gone for something.

I also treat them like people, not like resources. I treat them like friends and colleagues. And a couple of my mentors have become actual friends. Because this isn't about buying tricks, it is about real people giving precious time and energy from their lives, and it works best for both of us when there is a genuine relationship. And I pay these folks handsomely for their time, even when they do not ask me for payment. I can afford it, and it is a sign of respect for sharing with me some of what has taken them decades to develop.

A final thing which might not be possible for everyone is that I try to learn from people at the top of the profession, and I always have an introduction to them, I never approach them cold. When they meet me it is alway with someone they already know and like. That earns good will from the start, because they tend to respond well when I know so-and-so and they are recommending that the person take me on, as opposed to me chasing someone down after a show and begging them to show me how they did something. Peer identification will get me in the door. After that, I have to show dedication and respect for the art.

I don't know if there is anything in here that resonates with any mentors or mentees, but this seems to be working for me. Take from this anything or nothing. You might think I have completely missed the boat, and that's okay. I imagine every situation is different. What has worked for me getting mentors may not work for you.

:magicrabbit:
Message: Posted by: birdman69 (May 19, 2020 07:57PM)
[quote]On Mar 4, 2016, Pirouz wrote:
I was approached by an eager high school male to teach him magic.
He was inexperienced and the only thing he did was "My Pet Boris".
Not exactly a magic trick but he was the center of attention.
He was the son of friends of our family.

He was very interested but once he learned a certain trick, his attention waned.
After a little while, I saw that he wasn't interested in putting in the time to practice.
He thought that once he knew how a trick was done, "he was a magician"
He started watching magic YouTube videos and his father was buying him all the tricks he asked for.
His parents figured that a hobby will keep him out of trouble.
Then, in his mind, he was "the expert" and proceeded to show me how it is to be done. Because it was on YouTube.
At that point we parted ways as teacher and student. But he still came over my house when his parents visited.

I then learned that he was doing magic tricks for his friends at high school.
He would then proceed to "teach" them how it is done. I told him about exposure but he couldn't help himself.
There's more to the story but I learned to screen any young people wanting to learn magic. [/quote]

If they take time to read the online instructions ( www.mypetboris.com/inst2099.htm ) they will find that there really is a whole lot of magic in the subtleties that 90% of owners of My Pet Boris havenít even discovered.

If you havenít already, you will be amazed at some of things you are missing out on.

I think Magic Spider - My Pet Boris is a great beginners trick to teach.

Of course it is something they can learn and perform almost immediately but if you spend just a little longer you will find there are so many little nuisances from the ďAdvanced Timing... settings, spectator selection, the load, The control of the spectatorís hand, the ďArachnophobic TestĒ, the story, pauses and timing, to the suspense and the final reveal. I find that the time immediately after the reaction can be the highlight of your set. If doníe correctly you will have everyone wondering what was going on and when they find out it was the magician they canít wait to see what it was that made such a racket.

So by taking a basic effect and adding all the extra finesse thatís where the magic comes in.

And if you havenít tried the Butterfly Effect you are missing out big time.