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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » New to magic? » » How good can an hobby magician become? (18 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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adrianrbf
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I am an amateur magician, and also an amateur cello player. I know that both an instrument and magic needs a lot of practice. Doing both as a hobby, the time I can find is limited.

In music, an amateur may be pretty skilled, but he will never reach the perfection of the professional, he will always have a limited repertoire, and he will need more time to learn a new piece of music. I think it must be the same in magic.

How good can an amateur magician become? Are there, on the other hand, tricks, routines, sleights of hand that are, in general, too difficult for an amateur and are best left to professionals?

And are professional magicians able to read an explanation of a (not too complex) trick and just perform it, with little or no practice, just like a professional musician can take a sheet and sight-read?
kShepher
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The difference is presentation and stage presence. Some of the greatest card men were amateurs. The pros have the whole package. That's why they're pros. Just like music. When you're a pro....no room for error.
Signet
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The answer to your question is destined by your determination. With practice, dedication and time, you can become as good as any professional. It's really up to you. Realistically, very few of us are going to be Penn&Teller. As a close up magician, you can really entertain people. There are many tricks that are not too difficult to learn that will blow people's minds. These will also usually put a smile on their faces. What's that worth you?
For me this makes all the effort I put into learning magic worth the trouble. This past weekend, I attended a hockey game. During intermission, I noticed a man in a wheelchair all by himself. Two people had arrived with him, but they left him in the handicapped area. They had seats closer to the ice. I went up to him and asked if he'd like to see a magic trick. He nodded yes and I did five minutes of vanishing and reappearing a silk in odd places. He was thrilled. This was evident by the smile and look of wonder on his face. For those couple minutes, he forgot his troubles and enjoyed himself. I bet he enjoyed my impromptu show more than the game. He thanked me and I was on my way. I bet he had a story to tell his caregivers. I do stuff like this all the time. This is why I do magic.
kShepher
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Signet...inspiring post. You have motivated me.
55Hudson
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John Ramsay was an amateur magician. I suggest you look him up. That will answer your question.

Hudson
somethingupmysleeve
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Quote:
On Feb 8, 2019, Signet wrote:
The answer to your question is destined by your determination. With practice, dedication and time, you can become as good as any professional. It's really up to you. Realistically, very few of us are going to be Penn&Teller. As a close up magician, you can really entertain people. There are many tricks that are not too difficult to learn that will blow people's minds. These will also usually put a smile on their faces. What's that worth you?
For me this makes all the effort I put into learning magic worth the trouble. This past weekend, I attended a hockey game. During intermission, I noticed a man in a wheelchair all by himself. Two people had arrived with him, but they left him in the handicapped area. They had seats closer to the ice. I went up to him and asked if he'd like to see a magic trick. He nodded yes and I did five minutes of vanishing and reappearing a silk in odd places. He was thrilled. This was evident by the smile and look of wonder on his face. For those couple minutes, he forgot his troubles and enjoyed himself. I bet he enjoyed my impromptu show more than the game. He thanked me and I was on my way. I bet he had a story to tell his caregivers. I do stuff like this all the time. This is why I do magic.



Wonderful story. If you can entertain someone, no matter how long, then that's a win in my books.
funsway
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There is no reason why an amateur magician cannot be as technically good as any professional and even excel in some effects a professional would avoid.
As you noted, the number of effects mastered might be less. One big difference might be the essential audience engagement factor.
The ability to change pace, eliminate a favorite effect or pad another comes from exposure to various conditions and audiences over time.

Thus, the idea of "how good" is relative. A professional is also someone who makes a living (or large part) from performing.
They therefor must occasionally make marketing decisions over "good magic" ones. So, you as an amateur have a chance to be "gooder."

Over the decades I have created effects and sleights - and am better in their performance that anyone else now using them.
Not just hubris - no one can duplicate the years and hours of thinking and experience that led to their development.

That is a good thing.
"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
paradix88
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I think magic is like music. I perform magic professionally and I play the piano as a hobby. I can technically master both but for the piano I’ll only ever master a few pieces and the mastery will fall away as the number of people watching me play increases! Without constantly exercising your skill in the real world, projecting it to others and engaging an audience in wonder will be very difficult to learn and develop. I have a friend who is a MASTER of the classic pass - I showed him once a few years back and he just practised and practised until he has it down light years better than mine. But can he hold an audience for more than a few seconds of surprise? Nope.
danaruns
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There is no substitute for performance time. Pros get much, much more of it than amateurs do, as a rule. It is the rare amateur who performs 8 shows a week or more (or, like at the Magic Castle, 21 shows per week).
"Dana Douglas is the greatest magician alive. Plus, I'm drunk." -- Foster Brooks
adrianrbf
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Quote:
On Feb 10, 2019, paradix88 wrote:
I have a friend who is a MASTER of the classic pass - I showed him once a few years back and he just practised and practised until he has it down light years better than mine.

This sounds a lot like me! I learnt certain sleights of hand, not because I needed them for a certain trick, but just because I was fascinated that this can be done, and I wanted to be able to do it. BEst example is the cobra cut: a flourish, completely "useless" for card magic, but fascinating, so I learnt it. Took me quite some time, but it proves that an amateur like me can learn some advanced techniques.

The "stage presence" and "performance time" considerations are very valuable, I think. I work in adult education and as a parish priest, thus I am quite used to standing in front of other people who watch me expect me to "perform". I have "scripts" and "routines" in my professional life, and I know how important "stage presence" is in adult education. What I need most, I presume, is to integrate my non-magical performance experience into my magic. Thinking less along the "how skilled can I be" line and more along the "how can I create a magic experience for those watching (and what are the skills that I need to do it)" line.
funsway
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"Thinking less along the "how skilled can I be" line and more along the "how can I create a magic experience for those watching (and what are the skills that I need to do it)" line.

Words to be engraved above the entrance to YouTube and every online Magic Store.

While the adage "know your audience" may be more difficult today, both the professional and amateur can be flexible to adapt "on the fly."

I don't mean yielding to demands or taunts, but of know ing when you "have the audience" and when they are drifting away.
Perhaps you only need the confidence that you already have the practiced skills. The audience will sense your doubt/fear.

I question the phrase "non-magical performance." To engage another human person in any manner that inspires awe and wonder, or challenge their concept of "impossible" is magical.
Leading them to accept after a performance, that something inexplicable occurred not attributable to divine intervention is a "must be magic" step to be pursued.
That will happen in their mind with you but the tour guide.

Any magic routine has several scripts: what the audience expects, your technical skills and flexibility, the planned flow of events, the dialogue both verbal;non-verbal,
the 'secret stuff', what the audience perceives is happening, control of focused attention, the 'story told after' being created - and your review of what happened after the show.

Each of these require attention on the way to being a competent magician. Being a professional or amateur is separate choice.

In your mind you may never be "good enough." What matters is that each spectator remembers the magic experience over 'you' at all.

Perhaps just remember that for someone in each audience this will be their first experience with a live magic effect. For another it will be their last.
How do you make the moment real for both?

Just opinions, of course - with 60 plus years as a performing amateur to mold my thinking. (I chose not to "go pro" at seventeen and have never charged for a perfomance since)

There are some special effects that you can do as a priest, others as an AE instructor. Write me at ken@eversway.com if you wish.
"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
Dick Oslund
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WOW Ken!

YUP That first sentence says IT!!!
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
diamondjack
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Ed Marlo was an amatuer. Dai Vernon considered himself a hobbyist. If your refering to sleights, the amatuer usually has more time to practice those things because they're usually not practicing a full act.
incanes
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I was also thinking as an amateur if you stick to one area of magic, for example cards / coins etc wouldn't that be better?

My guess is that if you do so one can really concentrate on the techniques in that particular area and become good. Basically work on your stronger sides and just ignore the rest. Maybe then one can really become close technique-wise to a professional.

Performance-wise I guess it would be impossible to be close to a professional.
Mindpro
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You should not lose sight that every famous or well-known magician started as a hobby magician, so the answer to the original question is - as good as the top professionals - or in other words as good as you choose as we are only limited by ourselves and our own beliefs.
adrianrbf
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Quote:
On Apr 1, 2019, Mindpro wrote:
You should not lose sight that every famous or well-known magician started as a hobby magician, so the answer to the original question is - as good as the top professionals - or in other words as good as you choose as we are only limited by ourselves and our own beliefs.

That's nicely said, but actually not true. I am very much limited by the ressources I am able to invest.
Mindpro
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One of the greatest appeals of magic is that one can both begin and actually perform with little or nothing at all. Look at the great card guys - for a couple of dollars deck of cards they can create miracles. Presentation and personality costs nothing but creativity, imagination, dedication, and commitment.

I know many guys that have a "pack small, plays big" show that fits in a 5" x 11" zip/money bag that fits in a purse or briefcase taking up literally no room and it's contents are typically less than $10-$15. Pens, paper, cards, marker, coins, currency, rope, blindfold, thumb***, and they can do a full 60-75 minute stage show. Learn 4-5 tricks and you can do closeup/walkaround all night. Business cards can be purchased for about $10 too and there is so much you can do with them as well.
adrianrbf
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Quote:
On Apr 1, 2019, Mindpro wrote:
One of the greatest appeals of magic is that one can both begin and actually perform with little or nothing at all. Look at the great card guys - for a couple of dollars deck of cards they can create miracles. Presentation and personality costs nothing but creativity, imagination, dedication, and commitment.

"Ressources" is not so much about money, but about time. In order to become good like a pro, you have to practice really, really a lot. That's why I compared magic to music: It is NOT the fact that I do not own a Stradivari that makes Yo-Yo Ma a better cellist than me.
Mindpro
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Yeah, time is the one thing only you can create. I guess it becomes more a matter of priority and preference. You must also remember much of magic requires skill and proficiency, but other areas of magic do not or require less, which can be what many choose to start with.
magicianbrady
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Quote:
On Feb 7, 2019, kShepher wrote:
The difference is presentation and stage presence. Some of the greatest card men were amateurs. The pros have the whole package. That's why they're pros. Just like music. When you're a pro....no room for error.


I agree with this. Skills don't matter. Only your stage presence and audience management is what differentiates a pro from an amateur.
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