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Profile of Shalin
I am 15 years old, and I practice mainly card tricks. Everytime I perform a trick to a stranger, I get nervous and lose focus. When I don't focus, I mess up and some of my sleights become sloppy. All of this turns into a kind of snowball effect, and I keep on becoming more anxious and worried as the trick progresses. More of my moves become messy, and sometimes the trick gets ruined. I have this fear of people figuring my tricks out, and calling me out on my moves. I continue to practice daily, and I can do the tricks well when I am by myself, but when I start performing to strangers, I get nervous and worried that I might screw up and become embarassed. Any tips on overcoming this problem would really help.


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The Netherlands
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Profile of Tabasco
What I use do is practise in front of the tv, so I have focus on two things at the same time. By doing this my tricks become natural and automated (the handling). So when I perform in front of a stranger I only focus on the person and don't have to think about the trick. This gives me the opportunity to concentrated on waht they are doing and notice on what thay pay attention, so I can prevent them seeing the secret.

As long as you mess up a trick all I can think of is practise practise practise.

Good luck
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Jim Snack
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Profile of Jim Snack
You have to practice enough in private so that the physical sleights become automatic. If you are not confident with certain sleights and are your "moves become messy" then you are not ready to present that routine to an audience.

If you find yourself getting tense at the moment you are "doing the dirty work," then you need to practice relaxing at the moment you execute the sleight. Breathing is important; don't hold your breath at as you execute a sleight - a common problem that only commmunicates tension to the audience. Practice exhaling at the moment you execute the sleight and think to yourself, "relax, relax, relax."

However, you must practice more than just the sleights; you must also practice the entire presentation as if there were an audience present. That means imagining an audience and speaking out loud your entire presentation.

Michael Ammar would cut pictures of people's eyes out of magazines and paste them on his practice mirror to remind him that there was an audience to play to and interact with.

After you have rehearsed in front of a mirror and have perfected all the sleights so you are confident that you will not be burned from any angle, then turn away from the mirror and practice for an imaginary audience, working on your presentation skills.

Another idea. Learn a few tricks that do not require sleight of hand. John Scarne, Karl Fulves and others have written books of self-working card tricks. Polish the presentation of a few of those tricks so you can get performance experience without worrying about the sleight of hand. The performance skills you polish with self working tricks will be invaluable when you try more difficult tricks.

To deal with your fear of getting caught - change your focus. Stop making the interaction an adversarial relationship. Your primary goal is not to fool people, it is to entertain them, and the audience wants you to succeed! They are on your side from the beginning. Once you focus on that goal, you don't have to worry so much about "getting caught." It really doesn't matter. Have some fun with the magic and share that with your audience.

Finally, if you get a wise guy whose ego will not let him enjoy your magic, walk away. Don't let him turn your show into a battle for control, until you develop the skills to deal with that character without losing the rest of the sudience. Everybody loses when that happens.

Jim Snack

"Helping Magicians Succeed with Downloadable Resources"
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Profile of Shalin
Thanks guys, ill try the things you suggested and ill practice more. Any other tips?


Corey Harris
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Kansas City, MO
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Profile of Corey Harris
Always look up at your audience. don't burn your own hands. If you sit there and look at your hands your audience will. Do you feel like you are rushing things? don't be in a hurry, and try not to think about any thing. If you rush things you will mess up. Something I try to do is walk and practice my magic if possible, this allows me to multi task and I forget about what my hands are doing.
Joe Stone
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Wood Green, London, UK
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Profile of Joe Stone
Definitely start with some self-working stuff like Jim suggests, I'm just getting back into magic and I've seen a massive improvement by temporarily ditching anything even remotely 'sleighty' from what I perform; it's enough pressure learning how to deal with people, without also doing complex manipulations.
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Profile of Shalin
Thanks for the help guys, I followed your advice and I can perform much better than before in front of a crowd! I started with some self working tricks to build confidence, and moved into sleights.

Thanks again,

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Profile of mouliu
I'm a newbie too. I second that starting with self working tricks is the right way. You can feel easier learning presentation, being interactive and eventually being entertaining.

I know sometimes we the newbie would think "self working tricks" are too simple and elementary. Don't think in that way. No, no, no, making a "self working tricks" entertaining needs lot of "works". Audience don't know the method, it makes no difference to them no matter what level of sleight you use. Being entertaining should be the one and only one goal.

So, enjoy self-working trick, don't rush.

Be entertaining.

Good luck and keep posting.
A novice't reflection: I like watching my audience's jaws drop, but sadly in reality I'm just too busy to enjoy it. Smile
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New Jersey, USA
424 Posts

Profile of Foucault
In The Amateur Magician's Handbook, Henry Hay went against the grain and started with effects needing sleights. His reasoning (and it certainly made me think) was that a beginner learning self-working tricks may be too eager to perform them in front of people too early, before they'd adequately rehearsed the presentation. Learning sleight of hand first, Hay reckoned, meant that as the sleight was being improved, the presentation would hopefully become more polished. It's often easier to see that a sleight is not ready for performance, than a presentation.

In any case, don't forget to rehearse your presentation adequately, even with these self-workers. This may be why some beginners reject such tricks, thinking that the effects themselves are not very good.
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Profile of dead_man
If you can, talk to who ever you are doing magic for. Kinda get to know them. if you start getting tense, slow down and make small talk for a moment.
If the eyes are the window to the soul, you're not going to like the view.
george kaye
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Profile of george kaye
Dear Shalin,
You are suffering from a condition which everybody has at one time or another. You love your magic and want everybody else to love it as well.
It's what psychologists call 'the law of reversed effort', which states that the harder you try to do something the less chance you have of doing it! Think of the small child who it told "take that drink to Auntie and don't you dare spill any on her new carpet", the poor child has to spill the drink!
As so many people have said, try a couple of selfworkers until you are comfortable with an audience. Always remember YOU are the thing that entertains, the trick is just something you use, it's not that important, it's just a trick, if it goes wrong nobody is going to die. If you do it wrong, be the first to laugh and get on with the next thing. If you leave people happier than when you joined them - you are doing a great job!
Best wishes,
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Profile of jack_is_dead
One more thing to add! you need to have a good presentation and emergency exits..when some sleights takes time you need to say something to cover your action..if you say something funny it will be a misdirection! so remmember some patters and practice howw to use it!watch alots of other magicians perform..dvd is a great way! just see how they talk and what they talk!it will help!you will be fine soon!good luck!
one eyed man is the king in the blind land
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