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Inner circle
Kalamazoo, Mi.
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Profile of Jaxon
This is just something I thought about recently. More like a let peeve of mine. Let me see what you think of it.

It's just kind of funny to me that when someone asks another magician how long they've been practicing magic. They often add many years onto how long they've actually been practicing. For example I know one guy who has been practicing magic for a few years but he doesn't like to admit that. When someone asks he always says something like, "Since I was a kid" or "For about 12 years".

I know of many that are fairly new to magic who do this. It's just strikes me as funny.

Let me explain why this annoys me a little. Imagine you saw someone do a classic of magic. one you know to be fairly diffacult. For sake of discussion let's say they did a cups and balls routine. They did a good job and you where impressed. Maybe it wasn't the best you've ever seen but it was done very well.

Now, later you're in a conversation with that magician and you ask how long they've been into magic.

If there answer was something like 10 years. You might start to think, "He didn't do bad at all, but it could have been better. it seems like after 10 years he might be a little better at it then that. Well, maybe he's just kind of new to cups and balls".

On the other hand. if he said he's only been into magic for a couple of years, 6 months or some fairly short period of time. You might think, "Wow, only that long and he's already doing this good. I'm very impressed. Imagine how good he'll be in a few years. I'm gonna keep an eye on this guy and I look forward to seeing how far he goes".

See the difference?

I can understand a little about being around other magicians at a magic convention and wanting to feel like they're part of the crowd. I don't find the length of time they've been studying to have much of an effect on this though. When I'm hanging around at a magic gathering I want friendly people who share the same interest as I do. Doesn't matter how good or advanced they are.

I admit, I fell into it too for a time while I was a teenager. Then I picked up a trick that takes a lot of practice. Went to my first magic club meeting a few weeks later and they where impressed that I could do it already. So that made me realize that how long I've been a magician isn't really gonna impress anyone.

Just thought I'd share that.

Ron Jaxon

After regaining my ability to hear after 20 years of deafness. I learned that there is magic all around you. The simplest sounds that amazed me you probably ignore. Look and listen around you right now. You'll find something you didn't notice before.
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Profile of thumbslinger
Somewhat related, September of 2003 is when I actually became interested in magic to study. A few tricks as a 10-12 year old, but nothing ever serious.

Fast forward to September, we move to LA in October the following month and after three months of having the bug I get ready to try out for the Magic Castle.

Well, through the help of a friend who told me to concentrate on only three effects until I got in, I auditioned and made it as a regular/magician member in January of 04.

So, it's been a full year now and though I've definitely learned more and have improved in different aspects, I also have lost any real "attitude" after seeing the best of the best week after week and realize how much there is yet to know.

Those who say they've been 'doing magic' for years or since they were a kid should easily be able to back it up with entertaining perfection.

I don't think many people get what it says about one when they say something like that.
Chet Atkins, Jerry Reed and Tommy Emmanuel are all you need to study to learn to play guitar.
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Utrecht (the netherlands)
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Profile of pepijn
Hey Jaxon,

I have been in magic for a year now. I have not yet been to a magic convention or a shop basically because I haven't been in magic that long and in the area where I live there just arn't that many conventions. (if anyone knows any in Holland please let me know)
but now to get back to the topic I guess I can understand why somebody would make it sound as if they had been in magic for a long time because of the fact that people are probably going to respond differently to them.
I agree with the story about sombody performing for 10 years and half a year and the different credit you may give them.
But what I could also imagine is that if you talk to sombody who you hadn't seen a performance of you may talk to them from a different perspective then that you would if you knew/thought that it was a regular who knows the art for over 15 years.
And to that may also come that there is a big difference between sombody who has practiced his behind of for the last six months or sombody who bought three gimmicked decks and that's it. maaybe if you have really worked hard you would like to be credited a little more,

just a couple of thougts

sorry if it doesn't make sence all the way and about all the spelling mistakes but I have been working a little to hard for collage and I am just basically pretty burnt out (and that doesn't increase the mentality in picking up a dictionary and looking up all the words I don't know in english, sorry)
Laughing Otter
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Pepijn, no need to apologize for your English. I'm sure I speak for most of us here when I say that your English is far, far better than our Dutch, and that we appreciate your input.

Ron, you make a good point; one to which few people seem to give much thought.

New folks, if you are looking for credit, credibility, approval, acceptance, etc., all you need to do is be yourself. Especially at conventions or other gatherings, be a part of the give and take that goes on, and be open to any critique or suggestions that folks might offer. Granted, some of the advice you receive may be useless, but at least listen and give it a think.
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Utrecht (the netherlands)
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Profile of pepijn
Thanks laughing otter,

I really appreciate it.
And I think that the point you made is so true, I have read through posts here at the Café which made no sense to me at all and then for instance the next day in class you just get a flash like ahhh that's what he/she probably means.

I really like that

thanks again!
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Profile of prettylady1990
1 1/4 yrs
Brad Burt
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Profile of Brad Burt

This is actually a fascinating discussion. Consider the following. Let's say that you have been 'into' magic for 10 years, but you have only practiced a little bit per week. Perhaps even an hour a day. Now, consider another who have been 'into' magic for 2 years, but averages 5 hours a day practice time. The fact is that the latter magician will (or should) show a much great degree of expertise and knowledge of the craft.

Length of time past a couple of years should probably be gauged more in actual TIME spent 'doing magic' than the mere passage of days, weeks or months spent 'liking' that magic stuff. In the end magic demands a great amount of concentrated practice and thought to get anywhere near what most of us aspire to deception wise.

Personally, I look for the following in any magic performed: Does it just seem to happen without any 'SEEMING' manipulation on the part of the magician? A sleight that is perceived to have happened is not really a sleight at all. Magic to engage at the level of gut must not seem gimmicky. The cup is empty and sitting in full view the entire time...suddenly the spectator lifts the cup and a live chick, small ball, piece of fruit, etc. is just THERE! It doen't appear. It is just suddenly there where a moment ago the knowledge of the spectator said that not only was it not, but it COULD NOT be. Get a firm idea of what magic is as it appears and you will go a long way to getting there sooner.

As long as I have totally gotten off point: Beg, buy or borrow a copy of the Amateur Magician's Handbook by Henry Hay and read the two chapeters on theory at the beginning of the book. They are unparalleled in their clarity and poignancy. Have a merry Christmas and a smashingly successful New Year! Best,

Brad Burt
Brad Burt
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I dug 5,000 postholes, but I have only
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Profile of mormonyoyoman
Embarassing myself, I confess I've only been DOING magic "for real" since May of this year. Yes, I was into magic when I was a kid (did the "cake in the hat" for my big illusion) but hadn't really touched it as a "groan" up until May. So I may seem arrogant in (a) having much of an opinion on almost anything, or (b) actually working for bucks.

I will also confess that I'm not superbly confident with sleights - my pass may never pass muster, my double lift looks normal to the undiscerning eye, and my wife is able to catch me whenever I try to vanish the M&Ms.

In my own defense, I have discovered that I learned very rapidly through two lucky circumstances. (1) I lived next door to a magician who tutored me, and (2) I was "virtually" tutored through the 'net by Dan Turcotte ( Dan literally walked me step by step, and I learned presentation from his on-the-job videos rapidly. And I was voraciously digesting theory and practice from places like Ellusionist, as well as discovering the classics (Hugard, Downs, Hay, Annemann, Bobo, Tarbell...) --

And that's when I learned that my years in theatre served me well. I may not have the best double lift in the world, but I can tell a story better than most people. My customers usually don't look at the cards or coins; they're watching my face and caught up in the story.

I practice like an idiot, to try to get my skills up to snuff. Yet I'm finding that it's my storytelling skills (acting skills?) which creates the magic in my customers' minds. Or maybe it's because I like 'em so much that they like me?

This has been a long-winded way of agreeing with Jaxon. One can, evidently, be a good magician without having had years and years of experience.

I draw the line at giving advice though. There are too many sites and booklets from youngsters passing themselves off as sages; I don't have the experience to help anyone else become good. But I do have enough wisdom to shut up and listen.

#ShareGoodness #ldsconf

--Grandpa Chet
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Inner circle
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Profile of calexa
I´m now into magic for about 1,5 years. I don´t have the time to practice every day, but I think I´m good in storytelling. So maybe my sleights are not that good (I should say: they ARE not pretty good...), but when I show a trick, most of my spectators are impressed.

In my opinion magic isn´t only created with the hands, but also with the voice.

Optimists have more fun.....
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Toronto, Canada
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Profile of sugam
I wouldn't know what to say. I've only recently gotten more serious about magic a few months ago.

Before, it was only in my teenager years... practicing card magic and only performing for friends and family. Y'know... recording things like MacDonald's Aces and colour changes using a video camera. But nothing else. Then a break of 5-6 years.

And only now am I picking up Bobo and learning coins, so that's definitely new. As far as cards, I've probably developed bad habits that I need to correct, and am going back to square one with royal road.

I think that for many who had some skills when they were younger, they may be able to build upon that if they study at a later time.

So, I would say new to Magic... but not new to sleights. Because sleights don't equal magic, as performance and entertainment are needed to make that final jump.
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Bangalore, India
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Profile of nakulshenoy
Interesting query, Ron.

I am one of those in the 10 to 12 year range... having performed my first public show around that time. And having been consistently performing all through these years, that was a natural answer.

I agree with Brad here who says that practice makes the magician. Totally. And also agree on the recommendation of Henry Hay's Amateur Magician's Handbook.

Just writing in to say: Your question has got me thinking... And I am not too sure IF I will find an answer adequate enough.

Nakul Shenoy
The Mind Reader
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Moscow, ID, USA
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Profile of saxmangeoff
Sugam, your story sounds very much like mine. I've been "doing magic" for about 30 years now. But, to be honest, in all that time, I've only learned to do tricks.

I've read Hay. I've read Bobo. I've read Nelms. I've read Tarbell. But I've only recently "gotten it."

Magic does not consists of sleights and gaffs. Magic is a journey of the imagination, led by the magician. Sleights and gaffs are merely tools to help the journey along. No more, no less.

"You must practice your material until it becomes boring, then practice it until it becomes beautiful." -- Bill Palmer
Kent Wong
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Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
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Profile of Kent Wong
This is a really interesting post. I've been practicing magic for the last 30 years. Probably the last 20 years have been on a semi-professional basis. I'm quite embarrassed to tell people this for two reasons: First, it sounds like I'm bragging. Second, it may raise people's expectations to an unrealistic level.

That may sound strage to some, so let me explain. If I tell a layperson or a beginner to magic that I've been practicing for the last 30 years, they may expect that I am proficient in almost every major effect out there. The fact is, when you start performing magic beyond a "hobby", you just don't have the time to perfect and perform every trick under the sun.

Instead, you develop several routines or acts and you perfect them. Anything that doesn't fit into the act or add to it gets ignored. So, although I continue to go through the "scavenger hunt" for new effects, many of them sit in my drawer because they don't fit into any of my acts. Also, because I am running a business, I have to be very selective of the effects I do buy in order to keep the overhead down. That's the unfortunate reality of running a business.

In contrast, a hobbyist (and I don't mean anything negative by that term) doesn't have to focus on the business side of magic. Instead he/she can enjoy all of the new tricks of the trade that his/her budget will allow.

Many hobbyists will therefore have a greater repertoire of effects than the professional; but the professional should be able to perfect the handling and presentation of any and all effects in his routine.

Sorry to be so long winded. I hope that made some sense.
"Believing is Seeing"
Brandon Delgado
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St. Louis, Missouri
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Profile of Brandon Delgado
Oops. I think I've done that before, probably saying I've been doing magic for several years. I guess I should be saying that I've been interested in magic, and have considered myself a hobbyist, for several years (almost 13 now). It has only been recently, within the past year, that I have become more serious about it and practicing a few tricks whenever I have time. I think since finding the Café, I have definitely started working much harder to develop my skills, particularly my sleight of hand. Now, if I can just tap into my creativity to come up with some decent patter for my magic, I'll be set. Smile
Interesting topic, Ron. Made me think a little about myself as a magician.
Frank Tougas
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Minneapolis, MN
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Profile of Frank Tougas
While I've been doing magic and even an occasional show (free) since I was ten years old, I tell people I got serious about it in my mid 20's and have been going strong since that time.
Frank Tougas The Twin Cities Most "Kid Experienced" Children's Performer :"Creating Positive Memories...One Smile at a Time"
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Ft. Myers, Florida
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Profile of SOHartist
I really got bit by the bug about 1 1/2 ago. Since then, I did my first real show about two months ago. Before that I would perform almost everyday for someone at school or at church......still do. Smile

Tom Stevens
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Profile of Tom Stevens
I have been doing birthday party magic shows for 2 years now. When people ask me after a show how long I've been performing they are always impressed to hear that I've only been doing magic for a short period of time. But it's not beneficial to talk about how many years of experience you have BEFORE a booking unless you have 10 years or more.

And that's my first post on this forum. (sorry if my grammar is sometimes screwy, I learned French grammar before learning English grammar. But I'm not French. I'm actually born in Germany. Dad's American. Mom's Dutch. I live in Australia. There, now you know a little about me.)
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Profile of rmoraleta
Started at age 8.

But became serious in highschool then stopped due to higher studies.

Became serious again in 1994 until now.
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Inner circle
Kalamazoo, Mi.
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Profile of Jaxon
Some interesting responces here.

I'd just like to add taht I don't feel there is anything wrong with someone being a hobbyist magician for there entire life (No one has suggested this either but I just wanted to point that out).

As for me. I've been practicing magic for about 15 years. That means I knew a few tricks back then. I did my first real show at about the age of 21 so and have been doing them ever since. So it's been about 12 years.

Ron Jaxon

After regaining my ability to hear after 20 years of deafness. I learned that there is magic all around you. The simplest sounds that amazed me you probably ignore. Look and listen around you right now. You'll find something you didn't notice before.
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Olive Branch, Mississippi
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Profile of rikbrooks
This reminds me of something that happened to me years ago. I was a Si Hing in my kung fu class. Our style didn't have belts so the Si Fu, or master, would simply walk up to us one day and start referring to us by another name. That's how we learned that we had been promoted. A Si Hing is an advanced student, something like an assistant instructor. Once the Si Fu starts calling you that he will start asking you to work with this student or that one on his horse stance or something like that.

A new student came to class one day and my Si Fu asked all the typical questions, among them if he had any experiences in other arts or styles. He said that he had practiced Kykoshinkai Karate (A Japanese style) for 5 years. I worked with him, showing him the basics of Praying Mantis Kung Fu, the stances, basic blows and blocks, footword, etc. Of course the Si Fu was carefully watching. The poor man didn't have the most basic of the basics down. All martial arts have some things in common and well, it didn't seem possible that he could be a fifth year student when he was off balance in a basic horse stance.

My Si Fu walked up and asked him again, how long he had practiced. When he got the five year answer my Si Fu said, "Have you really studied for five years, or have you studied one day, 15,000 times?"

That was a lesson that never left me.
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