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TeddyBoy
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In Mastering the Art of Magic Eugene Burger stresses the importance of focusing on the performance skill of the magician, and writes as follows:

If you have already been into magic for a year or more, you already know too many tricks. And this knowledge-coupled with the endless desire for still more, more, more- is surely one of the great enemies of good magical presentation.

I am a newbie hobbyist who loves learning new material and has no plans to turn performer. However, for amateurs and professionals that do perform, do you agree with these comments or are they too severe with regards to learning new material? I would never simply ignore the advice of an artist of Eugene Burger's stature, but I would think performing the same stuff time after time becomes quite monotonous. How do you go about incorporating new material and how often?
So many sleights...so little time.
Cheers,

Ted
Russo
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Been doing the SAME show for 60 years (?) - BUT - if you had a tape of 1st performance and last performance - QUITE DIFFERENT - I think it's because I don't OVER THINK It - gradually, year by year, new ideas - old ideas - dropped ideas. Did what the Audience and Self, was comfortable with. RR
TeddyBoy
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Wow!! Sixty years and the only thing to change was the delivery? Didn't you ever, at least, get interested in new material?
So many sleights...so little time.
Cheers,

Ted
Mark Williams
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Eugene's words ring true if you read this article...
https://getpocket.com/explore/item/how-t......to-learn


Like Russo, I have been performing the same show for over 48 years. Sure, I enjoy learning new magic...yet I keep tweaking it so it will fit my style.


Best Magical Regards,

Mark Williams
"Once is Magic!! Twice is an Education!!"
funsway
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Quote:
On May 17, 2020, TeddyBoy wrote:

Didn't you ever, at least, get interested in new material?


Having met Eugene, I would say he was very interested in new material. Not to find something new effect to perform,
but to better understand the expectations and perceptions of his audience. Nothing wrong with exploring new things to fuel innovation and creativity.
But, the choice of what to perform is another matter based on communication with the intended audience (even if imagined).

No magic effect is inherently entertaining, boring - or magic. These result from audience engagement generally called "presentation," but beyond
dress rehearsal of skills and timing.

Laurence Olivier was asked after his 2000th performance of Hamlet, "Doesn't it get boring to same the same lines over and over?"
He replied (paraphrased), " Never! Each performance is unique. The audience is different. I am different from experience. For someone in the audience
this is the first time to see me perform. For another, it may be their last of many. How do I make it alive for both?"

Dick Oslund would select about eight effects for a planned show based on scant knowledge of the school (from perhaps 20 on a mastered list)
He then would adjust the show from 15 minutes to an hour depending on audience, setting and unforeseen events. The word "boring" is not in his books and writings.

Always remember that "must be magic" occurs in the mind of the observer. Your task is to create the conditions under which that might occur.
Do you rely on mastered effects that allow flexibility of engagement, or continuously try something new.

I applaud your interest and support your desire to learn and explore and expand your knowledge and enjoyment.
Just don't confuse that with what being a magician is all about - an experience of magic, not an observation of mystery or a skill demonstration.

Just opinions, of course. I choose not to perform publicly any more because of hand disabilities and because I have no clue as to what today's audience expects.

Find what works for you and follow ...
"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
dustrod
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I'm also a guitar player and there's a joke among us guitarists who are always buying new gear. The ones who are always buying new gear are the ones that play the least.
I guess the psychology is we dream about buying that next guitar or that new pedal that sounds amazing, rather than actually playing with what we already have.
I think the same can ring true with magic to an extent. I find myself (as an amateur) making bad habits. I have so many effects I have learned and instead of perfecting them, I'm always getting excited about learning more. Buying and reading another book or DVD. I focus so much on more, more, more that I don't concentrate enough on what I already have. When I find myself doing this I try to address it and correct it. I still love reading and I don't plan to stop or slow down.
mlippo
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Darwin Ortiz calls it The Next Book Syndrome...
We all suffer from it...

Mark
Wilktone
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Quote:
On May 17, 2020, TeddyBoy wrote:
In Mastering the Art of Magic Eugene Burger stresses the importance of focusing on the performance skill of the magician, and writes as follows:

If you have already been into magic for a year or more, you already know too many tricks. And this knowledge-coupled with the endless desire for still more, more, more- is surely one of the great enemies of good magical presentation.


I don't have this particular book, but my guess is that Burger is offering advice for the professional magician putting together routines for formal performance.

Quote:
On May 17, 2020, Mark Williams wrote:
Eugene's words ring true if you read this article...
https://getpocket.com/explore/item/how-t......to-learn


I don't see that at all, Mark. The actual paper is behind a paywall and I'm not interested enough to get the actual paper through the college library where I teach, but both the link you provide and the abstract to the paper (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-017-0048) clearly state that they were testing visual processing (not development of motor skills combined with presentation/verbal memory, i.e., performance of magic). It was also done short term (over the course of 2 days total). Nor were the researchers testing for how the amount of information being learned (e.g., many tasks compared with just a couple of tasks) affected learning. We need to be very careful trying to take something out of context before we determine whether or not it applies to something different.

It's interesting, but all that research suggests is that when you're practicing something you should continue practicing it after you've initially mastered it in order to maintain your skills. I think we already understand that.

Quote:
I am a newbie hobbyist who loves learning new material and has no plans to turn performer. However, for amateurs and professionals that do perform, do you agree with these comments or are they too severe with regards to learning new material? I would never simply ignore the advice of an artist of Eugene Burger's stature, but I would think performing the same stuff time after time becomes quite monotonous. How do you go about incorporating new material and how often?


Ted, what are your goals? Use those to determine whether or not Burger's advice applies to you.

You say that you have no plans to "turn performer." If that means you just want to play around with magic on your own and generally not perform for people, then you can easily ignore Burger's advice. Personally, I've spent a lot of time and derived a lot of pleasure from practicing things that I will never perform for anyone. No need to overtrain and perfect that material unless you feel like it.

Perhaps you mean that you have no plans to "perform formally." In that case, consider your audience (probably mostly friends and family?). If you're going to perform magic for relatively few people then the advice to learn just a few tricks really well may not serve your purposes so well. Personally, I'm finding it more helpful to learn a lot of tricks "well enough" so that I can get into some magic in many different contexts and locations.

I'm not a professional magician, but I am a professional musician. I can't imagine having only a repertoire of only a dozen compositions that I build my career around. As a music teacher I understand and agree that it's extremely important to really master fewer tunes at first. Not because you base your show on those tunes for the rest of your career, but because really mastering a few tunes will allow you to more quickly learn and master new compositions after you've assimilated the musical "language" and learning process so that you can apply that knowledge to a different context.

I really don't understand how magic is different when it comes to learning new routines. If you choose your repertoire carefully, you won't really need all that much practice to maintain many routines. For example, think of how much magic you can do with a couple of false shuffles. Once you have certain sleights down it shouldn't take long at all to learn a new trick that uses the same (or similar) moves.

Ultimately, if magic is your hobby you should do what you want, not what someone else tells you is better.

Dave
TeddyBoy
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Quote:
On Jun 3, 2020, dustrod wrote:
... I find myself (as an amateur) making bad habits. I have so many effects I have learned and instead of perfecting them, I'm always getting excited about learning more. Buying and reading another book or DVD. I focus so much on more, more, more that I don't concentrate enough on what I already have. When I find myself doing this I try to address it and correct it. I still love reading and I don't plan to stop or slow down.


This is me in a nutshell. I love learning new stuff...but perfecting it to perform it? Not interested.
So many sleights...so little time.
Cheers,

Ted
TeddyBoy
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Thanks Dave. I guess I'm just hobbyist who likes to learn. But I cannot tell people I study sleight of hand w/o being harangued into showing them something. I also think there is a hint of performance anxiety in my "choice" to not perform. But that is a whole other posting.
So many sleights...so little time.
Cheers,

Ted
Nikodemus
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I read a quote from a professional pianist once -
The amateur practices a piece until he gets it right; the professional practices until he can't get it wrong.

And a quote from a magician (not sure who) -
An amateur magician performs lots of different tricks for the same people; a professional magician performs the same tricks for lots of different people.

My opinion is you can be a hobbyist, but still try to think more like a professional. Focus on doing a few things really well, not on doing lots of things to a merely adequate level. Then gradually expand your repertoire.
TeddyBoy
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Good advice, but I get bored too easily.
So many sleights...so little time.
Cheers,

Ted
TomB
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If you are trying to be efficient with time and money, you want to focus on buying a few props and learning a few secrets and then master them. Then earn from your investment. Davenport was a proponent of this and explains his thoughts well.

If your crowd is having a good reaction and you are getting paid, you are doing something right.

How many tricks does Gazzo do, besides the cups and balls?

Is it better to have many small diamond rings or one really nice shiny one?

For the rest of us, any time reading and collecting is a fun hobby. We spend a couple weeks learning and practicing a trick, then we show our friends and family. After that, its stale and we move onto the next trick.

In contrast, a professional will work on a routine for several years before introducing it to an audience. Each audience builds and refines his routine a little more. You may record the reactions and try to improve the reactions. Some of the best patter is introduced by listening to what the audience says.

Fitzkee was not fond of swallowing razor blades but the audience loved it. In the end, you need to decide why are you performing magic.
funsway
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Quote:
On Jul 2, 2020, TeddyBoy wrote:
but I get bored too easily.


I recall being in a barber shop in Salt Lake City decades ago. One man offered ...

"I am so bored with scrambled eggs for breakfast - same old thing, I hate it."

An older gent replied, "I used to be head chef for the Union Railroad. There are 94 ways to prepare eggs
and my cooks had to know every one."

Another man offered, "I guess they wanted to be prepared for any request - to send a guest away happy."

to this the man replied, "Yes, certainly. It isn't about eggs at all. It is being prepared for someone being bored or needing something special.
But mostly the training was for the cooks. When they got an order for scrambled eggs they were so happy to not having to prepare them another way
that they took special care and made those eggs the best they could be."
"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
Mr. Woolery
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If you just want to play around, ignore the Burger advice. If you want to perform, take it to heart.

I was recently rereading George Anderson’s Magic Digest. In this book, he talks about different types of magic hobbyists. One is, of course, the amateur performer. That’s the guy who always has a trick and enjoys sharing it. But there’s also the magic collector. He is the guy who keeps magic shops in business! He might never perform, but can be a valuable resource because he knows what book or dvd to look in for almost any trick, even if he hardly ever does a trick himself.

I think it is fair to say that this sort of collector isn’t really a magician, but it isn’t fair to look down on him.

I personally enjoy performing, but find it hard to just do tricks in a social situation. I also tend to collect so much more than I need. Really, Mark Wilson’s CCIM has enough magic tricks for a lifetime, if one is actually putting in the effort to make the presentation good.

Patrick
MultiSlacker
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I'm just now starting to slow down and really focus on a few simple effects and the intimate details that I often overlooked. Thanks for this thread.
Luke Wolf
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I have finally found the perfect show for me, a show I see myself do over and over again for years to come. I still read books for the sheer pleasure of reading magic books, but very rarely do I change anything. The most extreme change I ever do is adding a new effect to my ever growing list of "fill up effects" for these occasions I'm booked by the same company
Wilktone
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Quote:
The most extreme change I ever do is adding a new effect to my ever growing list of "fill up effects" for these occasions I'm booked by the same company


As an amateur, ALL my performances are the "same company." That goes for when I perform casually for friends and family (most of my performances) as well as the fewer times when I perform a formal show (it's still the same group of people). Burger's advice is rotten for amateur magicians who are like me. Most of my repertoire is "fill up effects" because it allows me to transition into a quick and fun experience more frequently than having a set of 9 multiphase routines.

Please note, I'm not suggesting to perform effects before they are ready, I'm suggesting that the selection of routines and the number of routines that an amateur needs compared to a professional is quite different.
Nikodemus
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Obviously it's a matter of personal preference.
Picking up Dustrod's music example - I would prefer to play a few tunes well, rather than lots of tunes badly.
Also - in music, and lots of things, you can get away with an occasional mistake. But in magic, your performance needs to be spot on.
Wilktone
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Quote:
On Jul 22, 2020, Nikodemus wrote:
Obviously it's a matter of personal preference.
Picking up Dustrod's music example - I would prefer to play a few tunes well, rather than lots of tunes badly.
Also - in music, and lots of things, you can get away with an occasional mistake. But in magic, your performance needs to be spot on.


Of course it is a matter of personal preference, but also the context.

To continue with the musical example, as a professional musician I can't get away with occasional mistakes because I'll loose the gig to someone else who doesn't make those mistakes. I learn a few tunes really well so that I'm able to apply what I know and play many other tunes well. On a musical gig I can play the "greatest hits" and people will be happy to hear familiar music.

If I'm showing friends and family magic tricks in a casual environment I can't keep repeating the same tricks - at the very least because I'll begin to give away the method. Knowing only a few tricks really well doesn't serve my personal needs as an amateur magician and I suspect that most other amateurs have situations that are closer to my experiences than to professional magicians like Burger and some of the folks posting their thoughts in this topic.

In a previous thread here someone had asked about how to handle being asked to perform magic in a casual situation. While some of the professionals replied that they were usually prepared to do something quick and fun, and awful lot of them responded to the effect that when they weren't getting paid to perform they tended to deflect those requests. I bring that up to point out to the other amateurs that if your goal is to perform for people you know in casual social circumstances you might consider the advice of professionals to not suit your circumstances so well.

Amateurs, do what you want. Professionals, consider the context when you give advice to amateurs.

Dave
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