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ant1832
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Let me start by saying I am not a magician, nor do I know any tricks. I've always been intrigued by magic and have always desired to learn, not to kill my curiosity, but to bring joy to people. I consider myself a jack of all trades, master of none kind of guy. I always enjoy learning new stuff and at the beginning of a new hobby I immerse myself in it until I get a good grasp, then I usually get bored and need something fresh. So, I'm just not sure if I should even try with magic. There are a couple other reasons for this.

1) I know I can't give this the attention it deserves. I realize this is not something you learn overnight, but I see people talking about putting 4 or more hours a day in practicing. I have 3 kids a full time job and a startup business so I'd be lucky to get an hour in at best. Will it take too long to learn anything at that rate?

2) I suck at keeping secrets (just being honest). I respect that magicians never reveal their secrets, but I already know I would have a hard time not explaining to my brother or my wife. Did any of you worry about that, how'd you overcome it?

3) Am I too old? My friends all crack jokes when I tell them I want to learn magic. Did anyone else get a late start?

So I need all of your advice. Should I just forget about this until I can devote myself more. My goal isn't to be the best magician, but just do a few card tricks with friends while we're hanging out...that is why I decided to post in the card forum.

Did anyone else have these doubts when they started out? How'd you know magic was for you?

Thanks in advance for any advice.
Pekka
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There are a series of books by Karl Fulves, titeled something like "self working card tricks". Now, if you take an hour or so of your time per day you could very well be showing tricks to people in a matter of months.
The tricks rely more on clever principles than difficult moves, hence the self working title. More important thing is how well you can present them to people.

If you suck in keeping secret, don't pick up magic. You will just ruin it for YOURself. Naturally our wives, bless them, will learn our secrets as they are the crash test dummies for our experiments and also the ones who are sitting next to us when we practice. So don't worry about that, but if you have to tell your mates how you do the trick, well, it will ruin any future performance for them.

You are definately not too old for starting out. If you go to a magic convention you will see that most magicians are adults. I believe most people have started doing magic seriously only after their 20th birthday. Some of the best have started in their late 20's or early 30's. So if you are not looking into becoming a professional then you can never be too old for starting out.

But this hobby does take time, money, and devotion. Secrecy is part of the devotion.

So if you only have limited time to put in I still suggest to go with the Fulves series and other books you find from Dover publication's catalogue (ask your local magic shop, book shop or amazon.com). They will be selling for about $10, consist effects that are still performed by professionals and the effects are well in to the reach of a beginner.
After a year or so, yo ucan come back, if the magicbug bit you, and ask some more suggestions. There will be plenty.
ant1832
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Thanks for the advice. I'll pickup the book you mentioned and see where it goes from there.
davidpaul$
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Hey ant1832,
I got bit by the magic bug in my 30's with no prior experience and now make a decent second income. It was and is a long road but enjoyable for me.I've been at it for ten years now and yes I practice every day. (I love it) I love to practice and I have no problem keeping a secret. Once you realize the time, energy, expense and most importantly the RESPECT that is developed for the art, you have no problem respectfully keeping the secret. AS pekka mentioned above there are resources for self working efects and also there are books on bar stunts/betchas that you can pick up. These require little skill and usually with the bar stunts the method is revealed in proving your bet, so exposure is acceptable and expected in this case. Serious magicians are a different breed. Very rarely seen without a deck of Bikes or a half dollar in the palm. You gotta love it.
David Paul
If you can't help worrying, remember worrying can't help you!
Ben Train
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I wouldnt recomned it.

Let me expalin.

First, there are better ways to entertain people.

One, keeping up with current events, learning a few good jokes, and having an active life is a better way.

If you can talk about sports, pop culture, economics, politics, tell jokes, and your a good listener, you'll be able to entertain much better then most magicians would.

Two, the magic is only good if you can keep it a secret. If you know your going to ruin it for your freinds, don't bother learning it. Once they know the methods their just going to tease you about wasting your time learning it.

Three, if you like magic, why not get some guys and gals together and go SEE a magic show.

Itll give you a common experiance you can talk about.

Four, know matter what people tell you, the bottom line is your going to have to put a lot of time into it before your going to impress people.

10 hours or so a week for 6 months aproximatly...

Fifth, its soooooo expensive.

Seriously, get a joke book (playboy has some great ones. some risque, some not.)

good luck.
If you're reading this you're my favorite magician.
mc_magi
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I disagree with that. I think that magic is a good art form to be learning at any age, for any reason. Now, id be against him becominga professional magician, but as he said, he just wants to be able to do a few card tricks while hes with his friends, You don't need to put in the amount of devotion, the amount of effort, not even half as nearly as much if all you wanted to do ws to show it to a few frinds while hanging out.
If you are good ith manual dexterity, you will be able to pick up those few tricks that you mentioned within no time, However, as ive mentioned before, it is a completely different story if you want the calibre, that recognition by the people you perform for, or even admirations for your performance. If you wanted those, oh yes, you need to put in tremendous effort into learning a trick.
Try it, even if you don't succeed in becoming the best magician there is, you will still like the experience.
And the secret, its for you to decide.
Ben Train
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Magic is a fickle hobby.

your either good (which is a result of some natural talent and a lot of hard work) or your a dork doing stupid tricks.

I think a much better investment, as I said before, would be a good joke book and keeping up with current events.
If you're reading this you're my favorite magician.
magicarisimon
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Try it out! What's the point in not trying? Go buy one of the Michael Ammar tapes or the Fulves book, and see if you enjoy learning. Basic tricks are not going to take you 4 months to learn. If you learn a couple of basic sleights (with cards especially), you'll be able to perform tons of magic. Good Luck!
Always in Magic,
Ari Simon
Editor of THE THAUMATURGE
www.thaumaturgenews.com
scorch
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Quote:
On 2005-10-28 09:43, Nordatrax wrote:
Magic is a fickle hobby.

your either good (which is a result of some natural talent and a lot of hard work) or your a dork doing stupid tricks.

I think a much better investment, as I said before, would be a good joke book and keeping up with current events.


Magic is a wonderful pastime at any level. As a casual hobbyist, a serious and dedicated amateur, semi-professional, or full-time career professional. If you understand certain fundamental aspects of presentation and showmanship, a hobbyist who knows his limitations and strengths can work real miracles and have a lot of fun along the way. In fact, I think it's probably better for magic overall if people do that and have fun with it.

This is all provided, of course, he doesn't cave in to the ego pressure of letting his audience in on the secrets, which will degrade the experience for him and them (and the rest of us who rely on those secrets) as well.
Ben Train
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He asked, giving us a list of concerns he had about starting magic as a hobby, whether we thought he should and if we could comment and I did.

You said "If you understand certain fundamental aspects of presentation and showmanship, a hobbyist who knows his limitations and strengths can work real miracles and have a lot of fun along the way."

True. Except that would take tons of time! Tt's hard to learn ones limitations, and it takes almost as long to learn the fundamentals of performing...

He mentions he cant "Give it the time it deserves" (his words) and that he sucks at keeping secrets (again, his words).

He also mentions that his "goal isn't to be the best magician, but just do a few card tricks with friends while we're hanging out". Poorly performed tricks will make you look foolish.

If he wants to entertain people and doesn't have the time too dedicate what HE WANTS TO, then, as he asked, I suggested a joke book.
If you're reading this you're my favorite magician.
phread
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Quote:
On 2005-10-27 02:54, ant1832 wrote:
...at the beginning of a new hobby I immerse myself in it until I get a good grasp, then I usually get bored and need something fresh. So, I'm just not sure if I should even try with magic. ...


that is really the only concern you should have. there are many branches of magic and god knows there is a ton of material available...so pick some card and small ball stuff and give it a try. in fact the book Arcade Dreams by racherbaumer might be a great place to start because there are tricks with the cheap plastic props that come in most magic kits for kids.

dug
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Pekka
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But Nordatrax, don't you agree that many self working effects are, at worst, nice puzzles much like matchstick or coin puzzles and at best nice perfomance pieces.
What I was meaning with my suggestion was that, if it fits him, he could be the slightly mysterious guy who knows some tricks and puzzles. I have always liked people like that and I have never bothered to learn those things myself beacause I want to keep my interest on those kind of people.
In my humble opinion, it is much more interesting than hearing a joke or a pseudo-sophisticated political opinion.

But I do agree with you on several points. I also think that magic is a journey that will take years until you can actually perform. Anyone saying that you can actually present magic after a few months is raping the whole art form and redering it into silly tricks and puzzles. To create a persona, pattern, and technical ability will take time. And the technical part is the least of your worries.

To think that you can just go and buy Ammar's tape and... Why do you hate magic so much? Why ruin it?
Eric Leclerc
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I say do it buddy.... you already found a GREAT source... (this website) the mere fact you are questioning if you would have time to practice etc shows that you thought about this a lot further that most "new magicians" have...
Ben Train
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Quote:
On 2005-10-28 10:39, Pekka wrote:
But Nordatrax, don't you agree that many self working effects are, at worst, nice puzzles much like matchstick or coin puzzles and at best nice perfomance pieces.
What I was meaning with my suggestion was that, if it fits him, he could be the slightly mysterious guy who knows some tricks and puzzles. I have always liked people like that and I have never bothered to learn those things myself beacause I want to keep my interest on those kind of people.
In my humble opinion, it is much more interesting than hearing a joke or a pseudo-sophisticated political opinion.

But I do agree with you on several points. I also think that magic is a journey that will take years until you can actually perform. Anyone saying that you can actually present magic after a few months is raping the whole art form and redering it into silly tricks and puzzles. To create a persona, pattern, and technical ability will take time. And the technical part is the least of your worries.

To think that you can just go and buy Ammar's tape and... Why do you hate magic so much? Why ruin it?


whens the last time, hounestly, you and a bunch of friends got together for a night of beer, fun, and puzzles?

If he wants brain teasers and things like that, try bar bets.

some of them are like magic, all of them illicit responses (mostly good), theyre fun, and theyre not as hard.

good luck!
If you're reading this you're my favorite magician.
scorch
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Nordtrax, obviously, I disagreed with the content of your opinion, not your right to give it. By all means give your opinion, but don't be surprised if somebody calls you on it.

Quote:
You said "If you understand certain fundamental aspects of presentation and showmanship, a hobbyist who knows his limitations and strengths can work real miracles and have a lot of fun along the way."

True. Except that would take tons of time!


That is not for you to say. Astounding self-working effects can be learned in a matter of minutes, and presentation skills and acting talent do not depend on a lifetime of study. Audrey Hepburn never took an acting lesson in her life. After a lifetime of working on it, Michael Ammar's acting and presentation is still embarassing.

Quote:
He mentions he cant "Give it the time it deserves" (his words) and that he sucks at keeping secrets (again, his words).


One can learn to keep magic secrets, and you have no idea what kind of time he "thinks it deserves." I can't give it the time that I think it deserves, and I live and breathe this stuff.

Quote:
He also mentions that his "goal isn't to be the best magician, but just do a few card tricks with friends while we're hanging out". Poorly performed tricks will make you look foolish.


Where exactly did he say that he wanted to learn to perform tricks poorly? I must have missed it. If he actually asked that, then the apology indeed is mine. But it isn't your place to say what will or won't "make him look foolish." I've seen a lot of really foolish, awful magic performed by supposed pros (check out the IDs at http://www.penguinmagic.com). On the other hand I've seen some astounding stuff performed by rank amateurs, who only knew "a few tricks." But boy were they well chosen, and performed with an engaging sense of astonishment and fun. If all he wants is to learn to do just that much, I say more power to him.
lui
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Hallo ant1832,

you might be surprised that the actual secret is only the smallest part of a magical miracle. 80 or more percent consist of pure presentation. If you want to become a decent magician you need to aim for that 80%. When you are able to entertain a bunch of people by small talk, jokes and acting you already got a good start. Without this skills any trick will annoy your audience and you should save yourself that bad experience.

So when You like to tell a story, be in the focus of attention and have fun with people, You are up to the challenge of magic. If you are not easy around people, you might want to fix that first.

Self working card tricks might be a good start to get the hang of presenting. Actually I don't know the Karl Fulves books an self working tricks (only some by Giobbi), but probably any trick is sufficient as long as you have memorized it's principle by heart and made up your own story. Make up some tale that suits your friends,the situation your lifestyle.

In my eyes however the field of mathematical or self working tricks is very limited and most are by nature rather boring. It takes a lot of effort to make them entertaining. Real fun starts when you can do magic that is more straight forward and incorporates everyday objects. To do so you need to learn the moves. Don't be afraid, give it a try!

First, a lot of people find it relaxing to play around with a deck of card.
Second, even if you never master the more advanced techniques some knowledge about shuffling and flourishes will be always handy in card play.

Interested? Giobbi's Card College would be one good place to look. But before you order all the volumes you should somehow have a glance at Vol. 1. Maybe it's not your cup of tea - but at least you will have more respect for the people doing that stuff.

Well the secret - when You have performed a trick really good it is easy to keep it. Once You meet the glance of the amazed spectator you instantly know that telling would only ruin their moment of wonder. If you like your audience you won't be that selfish.

Presenting a couple of brand new tricks every week is an illusion, however. Yes, You can buy a lot of so called "easy self working" tricks. Nevertheless, you will spend a lot of money and the can't sell you the skills of presenting.

That's probably why Nordatrax's replies are a little bit unfriendly. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people, who never bothered to learn proper presentation and are now boring the **** out of people. This puts magic in a bad light. You would do us a favor not to choose that way.
ant1832
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Wow, this is a great conversation. I appreciate all of your thoughts. I think I may follow the advice of many of you. Get a book about self working tricks and put some effort into that. I should know whether I want to continue on from there.

Thanks again.
mstick85
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Yes, this thread is indeed interesting, isn't it? If I may address some of your questions, and perhaps add some of my experiences into the mix, hopefully it might help, and not serve to confuse you further.

Are you too old? Of course not. If you are interested in magic, and want to learn about this great field, then get busy!

One suggestion that I would make is to visit a local magic shop if possible, and introduce yourself to the people working there and explain why you are there. Ask them to show you some good effects for a beginner. Now the problem that you might have with this approach is that you could possibly be overwhelmed by all the things that they show you and want to buy everything you see demonstrated for you. RESIST THE TEMPTATION TO DO THIS! If not, you will see exactly how expensive the hobby is, you will have too many tricks to work on, and when you get home you will look at half of the stuff and think, "Why did I buy this?"

It would be a good idea before you go to think about what area of magic you are interested in and ask to see some tricks in that area. It sounds like cards may be what you are interested in. Ask the dealer to show you some card effects and they will be more than happy to help you, and you will be on your way.

You could get a Svengail deck, and the dvd that teaches 25 effects with it for probably less or right around $20.00. This would be a great way, in my opinion, for you to get started in magic in general and cards in particular. The dvd will show you many different effects you can use with this deck, and they are not too terribly difficult to learn. And the icing on the cake is that people are amazed at what you can do with a Svengali deck.

Another low-cost introduction to magic suggestion that I will make is this: Get a thumbtip and Patrick Page's thumbtip dvd and you will have about $17.00 invested. There will be enough stuff to learn on that one dvd alone to keep you busy for a year if you learn one effect at a time until you get proficient at it. Or get a set of spongeballs and Patrick Page's spongeball dvd and for about $17.00....So, you can experiment with different effects for a reasonable amount of money.

Does it take practice? Absolutely. I am married with four children. I do not practice nearly as much as I would like or need to, but if you want to learn, you will make practice time.

Your wife will learn the secrets, that is almost a given. She will be your test audience, but will also be your critical reviewer, so that she can watch you preform the trick and watch for any flaws that you might have in your performance.

Figure out how you learn best. Books or by watching videos/dvds. There are a ton of good instructional dvds out there. I say dvds because I am partial to learning by watching, not reading. But that is just me.

Another thing that you could do, would be find out where the local SAM and/or IBM meetings are in your area, and attend one of the meetings. The guys and gals that attend are all very helpful and very friendly. This is just another source of help for you as a beginner.

If you start out with cards, you may find that you want to go in another direction. That is another reason I suggest the Svengali/25 trick dvd. You will learn some great effects at not a whole lot of money. Find what kind of magic you enjoy and concentrate on that type of magic. Whether it is cards, cups and balls, spongeballs, whatever. You don't want to do something if you're not having fun with it, and if you're not having fun with it, odds are you aren't practicing, either. But I do think one thing is true. If you do start doing a little bit of magic, you will find yourself wanting to be good, and wanting to practice, and you will see that you will become devoted to making yourself a better magician.

Lastly, use this forum. There are many excellent magicians in the Café who are more than willing to help you. If you have a question, all you have to do is ask. These guys and gals are great.

If you are interested, GO FOR IT. You won't regret it. You'll only regret it if you don't.

I hope this helps.

Mark
"Go Browns!"
Josh Riel
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I didn't read any of the posts all the way, because there are too many words, But for the original post: Do or don't as you see fit, But whatever you do, learn to keep secrets. Really, don't be the guy that makes other magicians, who's livelihood may depend on the secret, suffer because you wanted a hobby, please. Learn to keep secrets. Everything else is up to you.
Magic is doing improbable things with odd items that, under normal circumstances, would be unnessecary and quite often undesirable.
Frank Tougas
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You sound like a guy who needs new things constantly to keep from getting bored. Not a good sign. While magic is a fantastic hobby getting there and being half-way decent at it can be rather tedious. My guess is if you have to ask you probably don't want to commit at some level. I just don't think you'll get the rush from magic you require.

Your inability to keep a secret sounds like you can be impulsive. That would certainly fit with your bored comment. Trying to learn magic on an impulse may be disappointing, and giving up the secrets would take away what rush there is in magic, the satsfaction of a great performance.

I hope I am wrong. You'll take up the hobby and become one of the greats and show me I don't know what I'm talking about. Then again, maybe you won't.

Frank Tougas
Frank Tougas The Twin Cities Most "Kid Experienced" Children's Performer :"Creating Positive Memories...One Smile at a Time"
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