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Gawin
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Hey folks - I have a problem!!
One of my best friends is now trying to start up with magic - and naturally wants to know tricks from me! I for my own person think he really wants to start - well he is working hard on some mis-direction and so on.

How far should I (we) help a beginner and how much has he to learn the hard way?
My way so far is to help him with technique, but not to tell him any tricks - is this the right way?

THX in advance,
Gawin Smile
Peter Marucci
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Because I don't know what you do -- and I don't know what your friend can do at this point -- it's a bit difficult to say exactly what to do.
But you seem to be going in the right direction.
I wouldn't be TOO strict about not revealing secrets, though; from what you say, your friend sounds genuinely interested.
Why not recommend some basic books, many of which are available at a library?
cheers,
Peter Marucci
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Dennis Michael
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Peter is right.

From experience, what you say happens often. And when you take them under your wing, down the line you find they have lost interest.

If they want to do magic, have them invest into books like Peter wrote. An investment is a commitment. Start with Tarbell Course in Magic Volume 1, and ask him to learn the coin sleights. If he does, show him a basic routine with those moves and see how he does. This way you'll find out quickly his sincerity, then go from there.
Dennis Michael
Burt Yaroch
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I agree with Peter and Dennis here but I think it might have been overlooked that this person we are discussing is your best friend.

You should know then how he commits himself to new endeavours and if he is really serious about this one. If he is serious I think you should go as far as possible to make his "hard way" an easy one, with your primary concern being preserving your friendship ie. counseling someone is different than teaching someone.

Enjoy his newfound interest while it lasts and if it eventually wanes I don't think magic will be any poorer for it but you will certainly be richer.
Yakworld.
Philemon Vanderbeck
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Quote:
My way so far is to help him with technique but not to tell him any tricks - is this the right way?


I would hazard to say that all magicians start by wanting to know as many tricks as possible. (Some never outgrow this.)

Perhaps it's because we erroneously believe that the more tricks we know, the better a magician we'll be.

However, this thinking is in error. If I had the last 30 years to relive with the knowledge I have now, I would have instead learned no more than a dozen tricks and worked on perfecting the presentation of them.

So my advice is to go ahead and teach your friend ONE trick that he likes. Then have him work on it until it's "performance ready." Once he's mastered that first effect, then you can teach him another and repeat the process. Eventually he'll have enough to put together his first show.

Also, make sure to encourage him as he's selecting tricks to learn that he considers the overall theme of his prospective full show. That way he's not presenting just a collection of tricks, but also thinking of how to flow from one effect to another.
Professor Philemon Vanderbeck
That Creepy Magician
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David Fogel
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Great comments by everybody. Let me add my two cents about your problem.

If my friend ever asked me what yours asked you, I'd ridicule him endlessly for being a "copy-cat". Then I'd cruelly tell him to
"forget about it," because he "doesn't have what it takes."

*just joking*

I would loan him a beginner's book on magic and tell him to concentrate on 1 or two effects. I agree with Philemon -- it's so much better to be able to do 2 tricks really well, rather than 10 mediocre effects. Tell him to concentrate on *both* technique and presentation. Once he's learned the effect-on his own - feel free to give him loads of feedback.

Books are the way to go, because he'll need to put some time into learning the tricks. Videos are, in my opinion, too easy. And simply showing him how to do a trick is the worst of all.

-David Smile
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Burt Yaroch
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Quote:
On 2002-03-08 12:51, David Fogel wrote:
Videos are, in my opinion, too easy.


What's wrong with easy? If you're going to teach your best friend to paint are you going to begin with something forgiving like acrylics or see how he does with oils because they're harder? Smile

Recommend to your friend both a beginners book and a beginners video. Whichever medium he finds easier to learn from, use that. Just because your magical journey was difficult doesn't mean his has to be.
Yakworld.
David Fogel
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I guess I'm somewhat protective (or over-protective) of our craft. I see a difference between teaching somebody to paint and teaching somebody to perform magic. Painters -- even if they are lousy -- don't hurt the painting 'profession.'

But, IMHO, people who get into magic for the
'wrong' reasons (e.g., because they are dying to learn how tricks are done), or people who butcher classic tricks that they have no business performing, *can* hurt the magic profession. That's why I believe there should be *some* amount of dues paid before one is handed Michael Ammar's entire set of
'Easy to Master Card Miracles'.

I guess I'd make a lousy magic shop owner. If a rank beginner came in with $100 and wanted the best trick they could buy, I'd stear them toward a good book (I think Garcia's books have great entry level material for cards; for coins - Bobo, and for general sleight of hand, the "Now you See it, Now You Don't" books).

I might also sell them a "hot rod" or Svengali deck. I wouldn't sell them, say, a rising-card or matchbox penetration. Even though they could perform both tricks (as they are nearly self-working), beginner's shouldn't start with this type of material. IMO, they need to learn how to walk -- on their own -- before learning to run.

Of course, each person's motivations and level of commitment are different. Gawin is, obviously, in the best position to gauge his friend's levels in both regards.
davidfogel@attbi.com



"I'm not a praying man, but if you're up there, Please save me Superman!"

Homer J. Simpson
Burt Yaroch
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Point taken. Smile
Yakworld.
Steve Friedberg
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Yak and David:
I'd suggest giving him/her an easy gaffed deck like the Svengali... and showing them a simple, simple trick with a non-gaffed deck. That way, they understand both sides of the card magic universe... tricks that can be performed with a regular deck and the fun ones that can't.

And (I know I'll raise some eyebrows here), I'd recommend a tape for a beginner ahead of a book. Ammar, for instance, shows you so clearly how to do a move that you can't help but learn. Lorayne is an excellent educator in print, but for my money, I'd recommend a good tape ahead of the book. If the friend is truly interested, the books will follow. Lord knows, they have for me!
Cheers,
Steve

"A trick does not fool the eyes, but fools the brain." -- John Mulholland
Gawin
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Thanks for your answers

Gawin Smile
hobbymagic
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It seems the attitude is you have to spend a long time reading and studing to prove you are really interested before getting to learn how to perform tricks. The fear seems to be that the person may lose interest and therefore it is better that he not know the secrets of some of the classic tricks of magic.

Maybe one of the ways to help stimulate that interest is for him to learn some of the tricks (say from the Ammar- easy to master card miracles). You as his friend and coach could encourage him to develop his own patter and style and not to perform them in public until he is ready.
Burt Yaroch
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I agree there Hobbymagi. I think the days of holding our magical secrets close to our chest (in terms of making newcomers "pay their dues") has become an outdated sentiment. Any schomoe with $30 in his pocket can learn whatever secrets he wishes to.

A little guidance and tutilage will go much farther in protecting magics secrets by nurturing this interest rather than crushing them under Royal Road.
Yakworld.
Jeb Sherrill
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I couldn't agree more Yak. We are losing the mentor aspect of magic and it's being given to the almighty video. I think we need to help as much as we can by offering our services whenever possible.

Jeb (Sable)
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Alan Wheeler
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These kind of forums seem to be a great way to maintain the mentor aspect of magic. The consensus in the above discussion seems to be that presentation, technique, interest, quality, integrity, practice and study should come before trick collecting and secret gathering--but that a few tricks and secrets can be an inspiration to persevere.

The less experienced (like me) can perhaps give helpful feedback as we are not defamiliarized nor swamped by methodology. We might be a good bridge to find out what the audience is really seeing since we don't know as much yet.

--alan
The views and comments expressed on this post may be mere speculation and are not necessarily the opinions, values, or beliefs of Alan Wheeler.
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Eric Grossman
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I agree with most of the above points. Let me add this. I believe that books are the great resource that everyone claims them to be. However, when I started learning magic, I found it extremely difficult to learn from them. Videos opened everything up to me.

I still love to learn from videos, but the more my knowledge increases, the more value I am finding from books. For example, Bobo, and Expert Card Technique, were two books that I purchased, early on. They sat on my shelf, for more than a year. The info was too overwhelming, and confusing. I hope this is not because I'm a moron Smile

I built the foundation of my knowledge, by watching videos, performances, and befriending other magicians. As my foundation grows, I find books to be more within my learning scope. This was a process that I needed to go through.

I love magic, and practicing it. I am thankful for the oppurtunity to learn from videos, because if they were not available, I don't know if I would still be enjoying this magnificent art.

Also, I would encourage your friend, to invest in versatile props, instead of individual tricks. You can entertain for a long time, with just a deck of cards, or some coins, or a TT. You get the picture.

Best of luck, and keep being a mentor.
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Gawin
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I´ll try -as good I can!!!
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