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Comte de Saint Germain

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Reply with quote  #1 
Hello all,

I hope everyone is doing well if even if you're getting a little stir crazy.

I'm getting to a point where I can read some tricks and have a basic understanding of structure and mechanics in a shorter period of time.  When I first started card magic, that could take real, time-consuming and sometimes frustrating effort.

Now that I can read through explanations with cards in hand more quickly, I have more opportunities to widen my repertoire. I've read the caveats about taking on too much, and I don't intend to be the one who knows 129 card tricks but can perform none.  

But I was wondering what others do.  Do you learn something and say, it doesn't fit me, and move on?  Do you read an item and say, nobody would buy that and not try it?  Do you have close friends and relatives you try everything on and just see what gets what reactions? Or do you push yourself trying more challenging material?

I'm sure everyone has their own working idiosyncrasies, but I'm curious how more experienced members work through these issues.

I always appreciate the feedback and am looking forward to the replies.

Stay safe ...
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #2 
Yes, everyone is different.  For me it depends upon the type of show.  If it is a formal close-up show, then I pretty much do the same set every time.  If I worked for a client a lot, I might "freshen" things up by adding a trick here-and-there, but I tended to stick with my "workers".  

For trade shows, I followed a set group of tricks.  I might change things up every now and again, for myself and my sanity mostly, but again, I had what I considered the right tricks for the environment and stayed with them.

New tricks have to be really good or must really "fit in" with my other routines in order to be given consideration.  I don't just add tricks without there being a compelling reason.
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Medifro

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Reply with quote  #3 
I spend alot of time reading and tend to go through material fast (I think), and need to assess tricks without performing them (life is too short to perform everything) and hopefully do it accurately on my first read-through without going back. It also helps me to read between the lines quickly. My brain now works as a system akin to reading a scientific paper. Btw My real job involves reading scientific papers so if this is too much don't worry about it.

The first step, and this only comes from experience and knowledge, is to know who the author is. Remember that each author writes and creates tricks based on his/her needs and interests such as Performing needs, money, or need for other magician's recognition (happens ALOT in ebooks and video downloads). Generally, I view magicians by three perspectives: Method and technique (some are technicians, some aren't), then presentation (some perform great, some don't), then performing environment (close up worker, stage, retired or a hobbyist for friends). This helps me not to neglect a trick if the presentation sucks because I know the strength and weaknesses of an author, so I know what to take away and what to leave out. For example, Allen Ackerman isn't exactly the best performer in the world but the methods and techniques are solid. Darwin Ortiz has great plots and methods but as a formal close up performer, I'm expecting more close up pieces with elaborate presentations as opposed to flexible modular restaurant workers. Roy Walton (RIP) worked in a magic shop so he worked for customers and magicians as opposed to strolling in a cocktail party. if you don't know the author well, there are some generalizations that I use (which can be wrong sometimes): Tricks using full stacks with no way to get into them or reverse faros suggest author enjoy performing for his magic clubs more than laymen. People who use fancy tight riffle shuffle techniques probably perform for other magicians more so than laymen. With a working pro, I expect practicality and small but important improvements as opposed to grand originality or cleverness. This step alone saves me a lot of frustration and vomiting if I come across a good card trick with a good method that the author presents as cards as magnets attracting each other. 
 
That's about authors. Now when cracking a book or a video, I think of the four trick components: Effect, Method, Presentation, and Effect Design. Then depending on my interest level I think of the Intended audience (magicians vs laymen), Venue and accessibility. In detail:

-What is the effect and what is an external reality/how does it look like (Ascanio's term)? Sounds silly but many books dont tell you the effect right up, like Harry Lorayne's or Roy Walton's. 
-What's the presentational premise, if any? e.g a demo of skill, an observation test, or just a quickie "check this out", or just not included in the write-up.
-What's the CORE of the method/move(s)? Is it control + a ditch, a palm, or some switches? .. etc. Thinking about the core method Helps to clarify your head in between all those confusing card sequences. 
-How's the effect design? (Best discussed in Darwin Ortiz's Designing Miracles book: temporal distancing, spatial distancing, conceptual barriers, the critical interval, and Initial and final conditions and distance between them). 

By this stage a trick's new ideas, strengths and weaknesses become apparent quickly and I can see if I like it, if it will fall short or play well. My mind usually stops there or goes further depending on my interest.

-Whats the venue for this? Formal close up (doing a show with a table), social situation ("show me a trick", needs to be quick and accessible), or after-dinner/social/private party (where there is time and space to present something longer), or a flexible worker (low-performance demands such as good angles, easy to get into, fairly direct as opposed to a performance piece with multiple beats, utilizes gimmicks I use already in my pocket space) .. This is a personalized take-off of Larry Hass's seven venues from his book Inspirations. 
-Who's the audience for this? Laymen or magicians? It makes a big difference. ATFUS's, multiple Elmsley-style counts or reverse faros, long dealing, transfer moves needing a table, lapping, and such  things are more indicative of a magician-trick than a laymen trick given the venues I perform at. 

Then I like it I can get to think about it more deeply, does it need extra gimmicks, analyze the effect design more deeply, magical moments, make personalized handling changes, basic scripting, try it on friends or wife, fix, adopt tighter script and handling, rehearse, and perform and fix along the way.

Sounds like alot but it took me 10 yrs of reading books and thinking about these things. It all occurs together subconsciously without much thinking. If you know the author already then this goes fast because you know what to expect. This is how I do it, would love to know how others go with it. 



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Andrew

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Reply with quote  #4 
Hi,

I have never been very systematic with my approach to this. As an amateur I guess I can afford to be like this. I generally go with what I think my audience will like, what effects appeal to me, what I will feel happy and comfortable performing and - if it's going into a small routine - whether or not there is a similar effect already in there.

I've always been happy enough with this approach, but recently I have been thinking about how I can change this. Medifro's post has given me a lot to think about. So, thanks.

Andrew
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TheAmazingStanley

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Reply with quote  #5 
Here the difference between an amateur and a professional is quite stark. Not that I know what it’s like to be a professional magician, but if I was, I think I would have “this will blow their minds” at or near the top of my criteria for picking which tricks/routines/sleights to learn. I would see potential tricks through the eye of the audience a lot more than I do as an amateur. If I see a trick that will blow minds but lacks inherent interest to me as the performer, I’ll probably pass. I look more for any inherent beauty, symmetry, ingenious solutions, “I never would have thought of that,” etc.

Since I don’t have to maintain a routine to put bread on the table, I don’t feel like I have to have every trick I know performance ready at all times. Some I do continually work on, others I just have in my back pocket. Every so often I go over the old stuff just to make sure I don’t forget it. I know, a notebook...

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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #6 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheAmazingStanley
Here the difference between an amateur and a professional is quite stark. Not that I know what it’s like to be a professional magician, but if I was, I think I would have “this will blow their minds” at or near the top of my criteria for picking which tricks/routines/sleights to learn. I would see potential tricks through the eye of the audience a lot more than I do as an amateur. If I see a trick that will blow minds but lacks inherent interest to me as the performer, I’ll probably pass. I look more for any inherent beauty, symmetry, ingenious solutions, “I never would have thought of that,” etc.

Since I don’t have to maintain a routine to put bread on the table, I don’t feel like I have to have every trick I know performance ready at all times. Some I do continually work on, others I just have in my back pocket. Every so often I go over the old stuff just to make sure I don’t forget it. I know, a notebook...


You are right that a professional will look at this differently.  Pop Haydn has commented here that he works on new routines for years before finally deciding they are ready to add to his performing repertoire.

There will always be topical tricks, or tricks that are "in vogue" and you might find pros using these types of effects now and again, but for the most part, they stick with what works and only add new tricks sparingly to keep things fresh.
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