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Buffalo McKinley

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Hello!

When I started practicing magic, some disciplines I developed practicing guitar were helpful with learning sleight-of-hand techniques.

Which hobbies, activities, experiences, etc. that have nothing to do with magic have helped you be a better magician and why?

Thanks!

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Anthony Vinson

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Storytelling and acting. Both activities put me on stage and taught me how entertain audiences. Acting required blocking, rehearsing, and memorization. So did storytelling, but that's a solo endeavor, whereas acting requires learning to move and flow with others. Storytelling taught me the importance of scripting and rewriting and refining material over time until it fit. Both activities taught me the importance of thinking on my feet, and being prepared for the unexpected. All of those have made me a better magical entertainer.

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Bill Guinee

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Synchronized swimming.
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Harry Lorayne

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     Reading the good stuff while swimming.
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luigimar

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One would think that being in front of a group would help avoid stage fright but it doesn't. I've been an English teacher for more than 30 years and have been into magic for more than 35 years and yet, I get nervous whenever I perform. I guess what helps the most is just to keep performing and that gives you the necessary confidence to do magic for others. 
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arthur stead

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My experiences performing music in front of crowds of all sizes obviously helped.  Plus the discipline and focus involved in years of classical piano studies.  And I also benefited from exposure to theater at an early age, attending and acting in plays.


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Mike Powers

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I second Arthur's reference to music. Both being in front of people and developing a "practice ethic" are valuable lessons learned from being a musician. I wish I had gotten into theater or improv but I think my innate shyness makes that difficult. Somehow being on stage as a musician or magician isn't a problem at all. I never get stage fright. But acting seems daunting. 

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chris w

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Reply with quote  #8 
This will likely be an unsatisfyingly non-specific answer, but my general idea is that everything about the person I am... everything I've thought about, been interested in, been through, etc., whether it has resulted in practical, measurable skills or not... should be somehow reflected in the magic I do and the way I do it. The closer I get to that, the better I think I'm doing. In that sense, everything helps me be a better version of the magician only I can be. Everything goes into it; nothing is excluded. I don't want to be generic Magic Guy, nor should there be a magic me and a rest-of-the-time me.

Less obliquely, I'm sure that interests in reading and stand-up comedy have helped make the idea of writing/performing from a consistent, identifiable voice or perspective one that appeals to me.
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #9 
Interesting topic.  I'll take another approach and focus on the Experiences component.  I would say to watch a performer that you
particularly enjoy.  Don't worry too much about the magic at first.  Watch the way the performer begins his/her set from the introduction on.  Observe how they interact with the audience.  Pay attention to the pacing.  How do they "finish" a trick?  Getting out of an effect and beginning the next one is not as easy as it sounds and needs thought and practice.

On the magic end, study how they routine the whole performance.  Does it seem to follow the standard pof a fast, surprising opener and finish with a strong "can't top that" finale?  

Finally, look at the mechanics of the performance.  Notice if there is a conscious effort to control the audience's attention.  Does the magician take advantage of "off beat" moments to help cover sleights or other maneuvers? What kinds of reactions are being generated?  Are people clapping, laughing or both?   

Much more can be said, but I think exercises like this are fun and you can learn much.  You will probably begin noticing things you never did before.
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John Cowne

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Reply with quote  #10 
Avocationally: puppetry (timing), playing cards with friends (familiarity with one section of magic tools), guitar and uke (timing and controlling nerves before a crowd), wide reading (fiction - sense of story-telling); non-fiction - considering the logic of how ‘facts’ are presented), grand-kids (constant opportunities to explore what makes ‘magic happen’), long-ago participation in martial arts (‘deceit’), long-ago squash (misdirection; see martial arts), drawing (aesthetics).

Vocationally: past - nursing (distraction, especially for uncomfortable procedures; general problem-solving), store management (storing/retrieving info/ items economically). Current - preaching (evaluating the reason to do whatever I’m doing; KISS), kids ministry (motive, opportunity, means [not considering murder!])

Thanks for the question: started a 360 analysis.
Never tried synchronised swimming: might try it with wife and grandkids.
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John Cowne

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Reply with quote  #11 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harry Lorayne

     Reading the good stuff while swimming.


I can see it now: Harry Lorayne’s ‘Classics’ re-issued in water-proof pages! That would give me an opportunity to get Volume 1. Not sure about the tactile, olfactory experience, though.
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Tom Kracker

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Reply with quote  #12 
I've used electrical engineering for helping when I work on creating some magic items.

I've also used items that I worked on for magic to help me with some stuff at work, and vice versa.

I can't think of a specific hobby that I have used to help me be a better magician.  Maybe weight lifting, to help keep my hands strong, limber, flexible. 

I will say that I have used skills I've learned from doing magic to help me with stuff at work, one example is when I'm presenting something in front of a small or large group, the audience management has helped, speaking clearly, engaging the other people.

Tom

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Robin Dawes

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Reply with quote  #13 
From Tai Chi - the ability to focus on precise sequences of movements and alignments, while being acutely aware of what is going on around me.

From Dinner Theatre - the ability to blend improv with scripted theatre.
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Bizzaro

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Reply with quote  #14 
Juggling. Helps hand eye coordination and fast thinking/acting as well as doing multiple things at once with both hands.
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #15 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bizzaro
Juggling. Helps hand eye coordination and fast thinking/acting as well as doing multiple things at once with both hands.


Good one!
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Matt G

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Reply with quote  #16 
Yoga/Meditation helps me stay calm and centered when performing. Perhaps more suited to life than specifically magic...
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #17 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheYGC
Yoga/Meditation helps me stay calm and centered when performing. Perhaps more suited to life than specifically magic...


Anything you can do to calm yourself is a huge plus.  There are many performers, even professionals that suffer from nerves.  Some try all sorts of things to combat it.

So a little meditation prior to performing is not a bad idea.  Deep breathing also goes a long way to calming oneself.
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Paco Nagata

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Reply with quote  #18 
I'm with Anthony.
Storytelling and acting have always been the most influencial hobby activities in my amateur magic performances.
I used to write little stories when I was a child. I even won a little prize at school for a tale I wrote when I was 11.
Regarding card magic I was bent on adapting any card trick to a metaphorical tale, some of them from my own original tales. I think that such a motivation helped me a lot to improve my card magic shows and to get the attention of my people, specially when I was a "child card magician" not taken very seriously.
Acting too; when I used to play some role in some game with my siblings, cousins and friends I learnt how to "misdirect" in different ways and how to apply them in magic performances.


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Andrew

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Reply with quote  #19 
Hi, guys.

This is an interesting topic and one that I've been considering recently after watching some of Michael Vincent's wonderful posts on his YouTube channel - specifically this one:



He endorses thinking about how we communicate with our audiences; how we build instant rapport, a safe environment for our audiences, and, through this, trust. This trust, in turn, can lead to an experience whereby the audience allows you into their world, opens up, suspends their disbelief and actively enjoys being fooled by a gentleman (to paraphrase Mr Vincent). It's an interesting theory and possibly intuitive for most, but sometimes it's great to have someone put into words what you are feeling. It can clarify things and allow you to see the woods for the trees, and act on it. And it can only be good for those who maybe don't think that way naturally.  You only have to watch Michael in action to see the warmth and openness he radiates and the results he gets. Of course, there is a lot more going on in his performances that add to this atmosphere of magic than just his communication and audience management, but it's still a point worth noting. As a result of watching these videos - and to finally answer your question - I am reading on the subject of communication, psychology and personal development. To be fair, I have yet to put it into practice in the context of magic - but I'm working on that. I think it'll be beneficial in all aspects of my life, but it'll certainly be interesting to see how it affects my magic.

Thanks

Andrew
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #20 
Andrew, that is a great video and goes right in line with what Buffalo was asking about.   Michael Vincent is a wonderful performer, partially because he projects a wonderful persona and takes time to build rapport.  This video has been linked in other threads but warrants posting again for those that haven't seen it.  This is a primer on how to establish rapport.



And it will repay you many times over to go to Vincent's youtube channel and watch 'The Vincent Academy' videos. 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqJoecUmp0s6xncf9OXH3cQ
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Andrew

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Reply with quote  #21 
Thanks, RayJ.

I wholeheartedly agree with you. His channel is well worth visiting, both for his great performances and his insights. One of the finer examples of when YouTube CAN be a positive force in magic.

Thanks, again.

Andrew
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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #22 
Quote:
Attending meetings and staying awake helps develop concentration levels.


Never was good at that.

M
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Robin Dawes

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Reply with quote  #23 
I hear you on that!  I can't remember the last time I was able to stay awake for the duration of a seminar - it must be 20 years ago.  Most academic talks are incredibly boring - either so advanced that only 1 person in the audience understands, or so elementary that the audience is leaps ahead of the speaker (and my own research seminars also fall into either of these two categories).
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EndersGame

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Reply with quote  #24 
Magic does have a lot of cross-over to other disciplines.  They can inform and improve magic (especially things like acting and theater).  But how about flipping the original question around: how might magic inform other hobbies/experiences/disciplines, and make you better at them?  For me that's definitely been the case.

For myself, I do a lot of preaching and teaching, and I'm by far not the first with an interest in theology to also have an interest in magic as a hobby.  Our master Rudy Tinoco is of course another wonderful example of this, and author and writer Warren Wiersbe is another - he wrote books on magic as well as Bible commentaries.

For me personally, magic has helped me think more clearly about the difference between what we perceive (in magic: the effect), and what is reality (in magic: the method).  I've been able to use that as an example when teaching kids, that there's often a lot more to life than what they see, and they shouldn't judge people and life hastily.  Often there's more going on than meets the eye, just like in a magic trick.  Believing in God is part of that.

Magic has also helped me in learning how to present things in preaching and teaching.  Although I don't think preaching should be a matter of entertainment, working carefully through Ken Weber's book Maximum Entertainment helped me with a lot of practical advice about how to speak in public and prepare for a presentation.

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Michaelblue

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Reply with quote  #25 
I like to practice dancing, ballroom and ballet mostly. wakes my mind up and gets me moving. Then everything else is fun. Like magic.
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Rudy Tinoco

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michaelblue
I like to practice dancing, ballroom and ballet mostly. wakes my mind up and gets me moving. Then everything else is fun. Like magic.


I was a ballet dancer for for years. I have an appreciation and respect for the art.

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John Cowne

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Reply with quote  #27 
Quote:
Originally Posted by EndersGame
Magic does have a lot of cross-over to other disciplines.I do a lot of preaching and teaching, and I'm by far not the first with an interest in theology to also have an interest in magic as a hobby.  Our master Rudy Tinoco is of course another wonderful example of this, and author and writer Warren Wiersbe is another - he wrote books on magic as well as Bible commentaries.


Enders, you got me digging into my autobiography of Wiersbe, ‘Be Myself’. He wrote that first book on magic, ‘Action With Cards’, in 1944 when he was 15 years old! He occasionally met Ed Marlo and Laurie Ireland at Ireland’s Magic Shop in Chicago. Ed took him to “The Magician’s Round Table’, at a nearby restaurant to meet up with other magicians. Aren't they stories you wish you could have been part of? I know some of our TMF have been.
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EndersGame

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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Cowne
Enders, you got me digging into my autobiography of Wiersbe, ‘Be Myself’. He wrote that first book on magic, ‘Action With Cards’, in 1944 when he was 15 years old! He occasionally met Ed Marlo and Laurie Ireland at Ireland’s Magic Shop in Chicago. Ed took him to “The Magician’s Round Table’, at a nearby restaurant to meet up with other magicians. Aren't they stories you wish you could have been part of? I know some of our TMF have been.

That's fascinating, thank you so much for sharing that! 

I didn't know he wrote an autobiography.  I've been using his Bible commentaries for years with much profit, and only recently came across a reference to his name online in connection with magic.  I was stunned to discover that it was the same person, and that magic was a hobby of his, to the point that he even authored a book on it!  

It was really surprised, but I was pleased to discover a kindred spirit in a fellow pastor! 😉

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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #29 
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Cowne


Enders, you got me digging into my autobiography of Wiersbe, ‘Be Myself’. He wrote that first book on magic, ‘Action With Cards’, in 1944 when he was 15 years old! He occasionally met Ed Marlo and Laurie Ireland at Ireland’s Magic Shop in Chicago. Ed took him to “The Magician’s Round Table’, at a nearby restaurant to meet up with other magicians. Aren't they stories you wish you could have been part of? I know some of our TMF have been.


Thanks for this information.  Now I'm going to hunt down a copy of his autobiography.
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GregB

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Reply with quote  #30 
Wait hold on, what?
Warren Wiersbe wrote a magic book!? I've been collecting his commentary series for the past couple of years, they have been a great help. I have to find this book. And hey what do you know, they sell it on Amazon!
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #31 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GregB
Wait hold on, what?
Warren Wiersbe wrote a magic book!? I've been collecting his commentary series for the past couple of years, they have been a great help. I have to find this book. And hey what do you know, they sell it on Amazon!


He wrote 3 books on magic.  Two on cards, one on thimble magic.
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GregB

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Reply with quote  #32 
Haha no way, well I bought Actions with Cards. Although to be honest, I think I'm more excited to show off the book to others than to learn whats inside haha. Now the delimma is going to be which bookshelf to place it on, the magic bookshelf, or the theology bookshelf?
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Alan Smithee

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Reply with quote  #33 
I had all three booklets at one time. Two have vanished, the way they do. I still Have "Mental Cases With Cards".
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Bill Guinee

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Reply with quote  #34 
I spent 27 years teaching in a small college that was oriented towards teaching.  Twelve hours in front of a classroom (audience) every week giving lectures and leading discussions, and a great deal of the rest of my time creating and developing those lectures. Mostly my students were taking my courses because they fulfilled a general education requirement, not because they arrived with a genuine interest in the topic. So, the goal was to gain and maintain the student's attention, create interest, and make sure that they left the class understanding topics that were often difficult or initially uninteresting. I believe that that experience has had a very significant impact on my presentations of magic.
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