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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » New to magic? » » The unteachable essentials (7 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Terrible Wizard
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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?
Tom Fenton
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Timing is another.
"But there isn't a door"
silvercup
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Quote:

Am I wrong?


Nope.
Learning physical things can gain you confidence.
Learning life can gain you charisma.
silvercup
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I believe if you can tell a joke you can perform magic.
Not that magic is a joke but same skill set.
Theodore Lawton
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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.
Terrible Wizard
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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.
george1953
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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.
By failing to prepare, we are preparing to fail.
Terrible Wizard
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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!
harris
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Harris Deutsch
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Timing... yes

Time on stage ...also yes
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
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1KJ
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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
Terrible Wizard
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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?
harris
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Harris Deutsch
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You can

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

or
C. use both
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
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Terrible Wizard
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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 ...
Tom Fenton
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Experience is an excellent teacher.
"But there isn't a door"
harris
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Harris Deutsch
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Experience is related to act your way to different thinking. (what you referred to as self help)
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
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Terrible Wizard
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True. And both are required ... But the first few steps, how to make them ...
harris
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Harris Deutsch
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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?
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
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Terrible Wizard
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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.
davidpaul$
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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!!!!!!!
If you can't help worrying, remember worrying can't help you!
MGordonB
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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.

I’m not especially confident in my magical abilities and I’m 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 I’ve 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 aren’t 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 I’ve been able to do tricks for ordinary folks using this control, I wouldn’t dare use it in front of my uncle who is a magician.

The bottom line is, that it shouldn’t 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. I’ve gotten away with a 1 way force deck on numerous occasions – some of you might think this is cheating or not real magic, but I wasn’t trying to impress another magician and since I didn’t need to worry about where the desired card was I was able to focus on my presentation.
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