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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » New to magic? » » Keeping it all straight...rookie looking for sage advice (7 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Hoppini
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Hello everyone. I'm a long time lurker here, and am beginning my journey into magic.

I'm 46, and have actually been a professional kids entertainer (as a clown) for almost 20 years, but only with limited magic in my act...basically dove/cake pan, change bag, blooming bouquet....all the old kidshow chestnuts. (my act isn't an all magic one) About the only "magic" magic I can lay claim to is a pretty good multiplying sponge ball bit, and a pretty decent Miser's Dream that I usually close with....basicially a slightly goofier version of Chris Capehart's.

Anyway, I'm coming here to the Café with performing experience, but very little magical experience. Not long ago, I made the decision that I wanted to do something different, and try and recreate myself as a straight, more elegant "jacket and tie" magician, and not focusing so much on being a kidshow entertainer. I'd like to do shows and events aimed at adults.

So, I've been working my way through Tarbell, the books, accompanied by the Dan Harlan Penguin series, and have been treating it seriously, much like someone going to night college. I've also bought a few small walkaround effects and tricks...but am really trying to focus on Tarbell.

My problem, and the reason I'm writing, is that I need a little bit of guidance on how not to have my head explode with all the different things I'm trying to accomplish. Most of the Tarbell chapters have quite a number of tricks, and there's no way to do them all, in addition to the other stuff. And I'm only on lesson 5. I'm sitting here with a copy of Daryl's Odd Quad 4 aces trick, a Turbo stick, and about 3 tricks out of Tarbell that I'd like to do. All these tricks - even the small ones, need the effect practiced, the patter written, the whole thing rehearsed (I refuse to go out unrehearsed again....it always falls flat when I try it) and in a couple of spots, there's some stuff I need to find and or make to be able to perform them. Al this with a full time job, family, and my clown appearances.

I'm absolutely blessed in my life. My family is great. I work in the business as an entertainment booker in a costume shop/entertainment agency...in fact we have a maze downstairs at work that doubles as a haunted house attraction in October - I put up a big mirror and a workbench in one corner of the maze that I use for my "magic classroom" I clown on the weekends. Life is good.

But maybe its an "artistic mind" problem. At a given moment, I'm not knowing whether to practice, write, rehearse or create...or where to focus at all. It freezes me up in such a way that ends up becoming counterproductive, and I have to stop and do something brainless like watch a episode of something on TV just to make my head stop spinning. I'm afraid of burning out.

So I'm coming to the established veterans here at the Café, with my hat in hand, and asking if anyone can give a magic newbie some sage advice on keeping it all straight and organizing your stuff, and time, when you're just starting out.

Thanks for your time.

James
Karli
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You can always try to accomplish the same thing with an easier method....

Have you thought about tarot cards, palm reading, personality tests?
funsway
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Enjoy the process! By immersing yourself so completely in the mystic arts you will become one with the reals secrets of magic.

Anyone can learn a trick or two and confound their friends. But a finer level of performance magic if grounded in communicating your appreciation of magic with the audience.

You cannot expect them to find greater awe and wonder in themselves than you can bring to the table. You cannot "burn out" except it "doing tricks."

Yes, you will work on mastering a new effect and find the courage to exclude all else from your focus -- supported by the knowledge that tomorrow will be anew adventure.

You seem to have curiosity, imagination and a capacity for self-appraisal. Cherish these talents for I fear the younger cohorts will never embrace them.

I pity those who do not have your problem. "Audience engagement" doesn't come on a DVD or even in a book.

It comes from the moments you set the book down and role-play an effect in your mind, then mentally step out into the audience and watch it from afar.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



ShareBooks at www.eversway.com * questions at funsway@eversway.com
55Hudson
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James,

Since you are already doing kids shows, I recommend you start adding tricks that cross over all ages - like the misers dream and spong balls. Then focus on events that are a mix of adults and kids - think company company picnic. These types of events allow you to grow your show slowly, transitioning from heavy kid to heavy adult focus.

Types of effects that cross over well are ropes & silks - common everyday props everyone in the audience will recognize and when something changes (length of rope, color of silk) they are amazed regardless of age or venue.

Hudson
MichaelJae
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It comes from the moments you set the book down and role-play an effect in your mind, then mentally step out into the audience and watch it from afar.

The Jedi has spoken!! This includes all forms of art, and public speaking.
Jon Strum
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Life is made up of choices. We all choose which paths we're going to explore and which paths we're going to pass by. Then, we allocate our time, energy, and resources accordingly. You've got your hands full with your job, family, clowning, etc. Taking on magic didn't create more hours in the day or days in the week, so you have to decide where the trade-off will come from. What are you willing to do less of on order to do more with your magic?

As to your magic itself, put down that handful of effects (not to mention Tarheel & Harlan) and prioritize what you are going to work on first, second, and so on. Many might argue that going through the complete Tarbell course by itself is already a daunting task. Learning any craft involves disciplining ourselves. Doing so should help you feel less overwhelmed and more empowered. Not to mention, you will become a better performer.
"Do you like card tricks?" he asked.
I said no. He did five.
DanHarlan
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Stop watching TV.
Fall in love with ONE trick.
Devote your time to finishing that ONE trick.
Put it in your show and refine it.
Reward yourself with a little bit of TV.
Repeat.

The process becomes easier, and quicker, the more you do it. It's all about focus. You can do it.
--Harlan
Visit My Site @

www.danharlanmagic.com
Jon Strum
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That "Tarheel" should have been "Tarbell". *** auto-correct!
"Do you like card tricks?" he asked.
I said no. He did five.
DaveGripenwaldt
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Dan’s advice reminds me of the old adage, “How do you eat an Elephant? One bite at a time". With all you describe going on, if learning/polishing 5 tricks is stressing, cut back to 3...or Dan’s 1...and work on just that.

And, if it is an effect you can add into your clowning, all the better because you can road test it when you are ready by inserting it into what you are already doing (a lot of budding magi don’t have a built in venue for performing like you do).

And definitely keep in touch with the Café on your journey because the practical advice from seasoned performers you can get here is priceless.
Hoppini
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Thank you so much gentlemen for your responses. I can see I just have to go one step at a time, so I'm working myself around to that....one trick at a time.

I guess my biggest blessing is that I'm surrounded by people who understand the need to take this stuff seriously, and to devote the time to do it properly. I'm sure there are a lot of guys who can't say the same.

And I have to say I'm a little tickled that Dan responded. For the last month or two he's been my "Yoda" through the Tarbell series. Thanks Dan. Although "dropping it all to watch TV" was figurative, I will heed that advice. And I appreciate the effort you've put into that series.

Thanks again fellows

Respectfully,
James
SvenSigma
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Hi,

welcome to the Café. [Sorry for the missing accent, it got jumbled when I previewed the post.]

A word of warning before you read on: when it comes to magic I am a beginner myself, so please take anything that follows not with a grain but with a ton of salt.

I see some similarities in our situations. I knew some tricks -- and I mean tricks, not really good acts or routines -- from my youth and fell in love again with magic at roughly the same age you are. I also feel overwhelmed by what is available.

My approach to the Tarbell book(s) is that I see it as an educational basis to understand the general principles of magic. I got the original Tarbell as PDF from Lybrary and print out each lesson separately. Every ten days I read one and only one lesson, simulating the original correspondence course. If there is a trick I like, I give it a try to see how it feels for me. If I still like it, it goes into my practice program for a while.

I must admit Dan Harlans video Tarbell is more TV for me than a learning thing. So exactly not what Dan Harlan himself advises in this thread. Maybe this is because he is such a great entertainer and his humor resonates with me. There is one exception: Comparing the original with Dan Harlan, seeing his performance and explanations helps to get ideas how to adapt something to modern times and personal style.

What I decided is the following: of each category of close-up magic I am learning one thing per month at most. So I apply "Eating the elephant one bite at a time", as DaveGripenwaldt wrote. My plan is to get a list of basics running like:

Three or four great card routines, not Tarbell, but Roberto Giobbi, of different categories like "Pick a card", Ace assembly, ...
One torn and restored rope
One coin routine
One mental magic or mentalism routine
A simple cups and balls routine, but not what you get from kids' magic sets
A four ring linking rings routine, probably with 5 inch rings
...

The overall idea is to have a skeleton, not in the closet but at the close-up table, in about half a year from now, meaning a year after restarting magic. And then I'll look what direction will be mine.

And to keep up motivation, I perform some small thing for friends and family when the situation arises. You might be in a more comfortable situation because you can add appropritate effects to your kids' act one by one. Maybe you could throw in "one for the parents" per show that is pulling their leg in a nice and family friendly way so that the kids enjoy it as well. Like the hidden jokes in good children movies that only the adults understand, but the other way round.

Finally: enjoy the process and trust the process. For me this is the most important thing. If you love the process and continuously improve in small steps, the good results will come. Ask me again in half I year from now what I think about it then. Smile

Best regards,
Jen
It takes a baby in the belly six months to learn how to put the thumb in the mouth.

The rest of life is essentially the same problem.

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Dick Oslund
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Just "found" your thread, "Hop". I'll come back when I get a free minute, and comment, eh! (I'm in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I can drive 350 miles SOUTH, and enter Canada!) BTW, you speak good English for a "foreigner". hee hee
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
plink
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I'm sure a person of your age knows the worth of experience. In every phase of life preparation and practice is very important, but experience has no substitute. Perform as much as you can as soon as you are practiced and rehersed, but expect to learn by doing.
supertoad12
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Quote:
On Apr 4, 2016, DanHarlan wrote:
Stop watching TV.
Fall in love with ONE trick.
Devote your time to finishing that ONE trick.
Put it in your show and refine it.
Reward yourself with a little bit of TV.
Repeat.

The process becomes easier, and quicker, the more you do it. It's all about focus. You can do it.
--Harlan


Good stuff Dan! I must admit that kids and TV times are cutting down on my magic. Sometimes, it is so much more easier than just sit down with a cold one in front of the TV and Chill...I really like your work and rewards and will try that!
Steph

"The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it"...J.M. Barrie
SvenSigma
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Quote:
On Nov 23, 2016, supertoad12 wrote:

Good stuff Dan! I must admit that kids and TV times are cutting down on my magic. Sometimes, it is so much more easier than just sit down with a cold one in front of the TV and Chill...I really like your work and rewards and will try that!


Still, in front of a a TV you can practice your sleight of hand, which I do from time to time Smile Helps in developing your skills to a level where they work subconsciously without looking at your hand. But kids, yes, that's a different thing.
It takes a baby in the belly six months to learn how to put the thumb in the mouth.

The rest of life is essentially the same problem.

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Comedy Writer
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Perhaps look for a teacher, director or mentor?
Dick Oslund
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Perhaps, before this thread becomes too loooooong, it would be wise to define a few terms!

Before I even start, I should mention that I've "worn the motley" a bit, and, my shoes are of the Karl Marx type! It has been a few years. The last season under canvas, was with Wayne Franzen's little mud show in the late '70s. I actually started the season on the advance, but, when Danny Chapman left, early in the season, we NEEDED a clown. (I think it was the late Fred Allen who said, "Clowns are the pegs that circuses are hung on!")

I was mentoring a young lad of 18. He was learning magic, and had dabbled a bit with clowning. I nick named him, "Chester the Jester".
He had just graduated high school, and, didn't have a summer job. He was eager! I loaned him some of my clown props, make up, and some simple wardrobe. He had no act, however.

Franzen's show was the usual little family operation. There was never enough people. Wayne, the show owner, an animal man, was in the ring 5 times!
He had no one to sell the "garbage" (balloons, monkeys on a stick, vinyl inflatables, etc.)

"Garbage", Elephant rides, sno cones, cotton candy, novelties, etc. MOVE THE SHOW! (i.e.: cover the operating nut) Ticket sales money should go in the bank for capital expenses.

I became producing clown. We worked out "commercial" gags, that helped sell the refreshments, and novelties. Chester "paid his salary" with profits from his "act"!

I mention this, so that you will know that I've been "around" in this business.

I'm hungry, and "the flag is up"! To an old circus man, that means the cook house is ready to serve supper! I'm gonna go eat. I'll try to return tomorrow, and help you understand some of the terms that the guys above have been mentioning. Some of them have used some of those terms a bit loosely, and may have innocently caused mild confusion. I shall return! (General MacArthur said that in 1941!)
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Dick Oslund
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I've returned! (Fair warning!)

"MAGIC" is 5% sleight of hand skill, 5% sensory illusion, 5% esoteric principles of science, AND, 85% PSYCHOLOGY! (I don't know how to 'italicize', so, I use CAPS.)

You cannot "buy" MAGIC. Magic "happens" in the mind(s) of the spectator(s).

You cannot "buy" TRICKS, or EFFECTS. TRICKS, like music, only exist WHILE THEY ARE BEING PERFORMED. EFFECTS are only what the spectator(s) perceives. So, you cannot practice EFFECTS, either.

You can buy PROP(S) and/or SECRETS (in a book or dvd). (Note: I said PROPS, NOT "APPARATUS" APPARATUS was what the buskers called PROPS, in the 1700s, when they put on a clean shirt, pressed their suit, became "professors" and/or "doctors", and, moved "inside" in wealthy homes to do "parlor" shows. It was the beginning of the "age of science! "Apparatus" was used by scientists, and the buskers, as mentioned, gained respectability as "doctors"!

They would have a big center table, often draped to the floor, and suitably fitted with black art wells, servantes, etc. The table "displayed" nickel plated tubes, painted boxes, crystal glass vases, and, "red velvet bags on a stick".

Two "plant stands" (tripod tables) suitably velvet draped with gold fringe, art wells, servantes, etc. were spotted "downstage) left and right. One at a time the "apparatus" was removed from the big table, placed on the little tables, and a trick would be performed with the "apparatus", then it was replaced on the big table. All this moving of "apparatus" caused a rather slow moving show!

In the theater, we use the term, PROPS. I can always "tell" a beginner by his/her misuse of terminology.

The flag is up! I'll do a "MacArthur" again tomorrow.
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
SvenSigma
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Hi Dick,

I must admit that I'm slightly confused by your last post. It sounds like it addresses topics discussed in that other - infamous - "Buying Magic" thread.

Jens
It takes a baby in the belly six months to learn how to put the thumb in the mouth.

The rest of life is essentially the same problem.

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Dick Oslund
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Guten Abend freund Jens!

Sorry if I caused confusion. I preach that sermon as needed, in many different fora. I'll continue it tomorrow. Far too many don't know the difference between a gimmick, and a feke, a trick, and an effect. etc. This place can easily become a "Tower of Babel", if we don't all speak the same language!

I don't think that you are intellectually dishonest, or worse, invincibly ignorant. I do realize that you may be confused because you've heard these terms used far too loosely. E.g.: The OP speaks of "practicing effects" --That can't be done! (See the definition of EFFECT in my post just above. Jon Sturm speaks of a "handful of effects" Impossible! Dave Gripenwaldt speaks of "adding an effect" No!

One PRACTICES a SLEIGHT, or the performance of a TRICK; One cannot have a "handful of effects! An EFFECT is intangible! One cannot add an EFFECT (An EFFECT is something that a spectator perceives. One can add a TRICK (which, if performed with a good PRESENTATION, can PRODUCE an EFFECT.

One of my college professors insisted that define our terms!

If you will tell me, specifically, how I've confused you, I'll do my best to clarify!
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
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