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Duke

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With children 6,7,8 yrs old, what makes the difference whether they are delighted or skeptical? Aside from the obvious (to me at least) is how well you perform the illusions.

Beyond that, why do some young audiences become detectives, even verbally aggressive, while others are quite happy to be fooled.

Do you have some words of fantasy and fun that helps to set the mood?

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RayJ

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duke
With children 6,7,8 yrs old, what makes the difference whether they are delighted or skeptical? Aside from the obvious (to me at least) is how well you perform the illusions.

Beyond that, why do some young audiences become detectives, even verbally aggressive, while others are quite happy to be fooled.

Do you have some words of fantasy and fun that helps to set the mood?


Duke, I think you'll find that at the younger ages, most kids won't be a problem.  Getting them to sit still might be a challenge.  Some will have "ants in their pants", but verbally challenging I doubt.

My oldest daughter is a kindergarten teacher and a few years back when I was off work and recovering from cancer surgery she invited me to come into her classroom to read to the kids.  They thought it was cool that her dad was going to visit.  It was one of the most fun experiences I've ever had.  I got to watch my daughter in action and the children were delightful.  They were extremely attentive and afterwards we had some nice Q&A.

There are some books that focus on performing for kids.  If you don't have any, that might be something you want to check out.  Perhaps someone here will know of a good one.

Arthur Stead has a wealth of experience in performing to younger audiences and I'm sure he can help answer specific questions as they arise.  He is quite generous in sharing his experience.
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Duke

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Reply with quote  #3 
That you so much, Ray.
I may have been remembering magic for a little older group.

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RayJ

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Duke, you might find some good stuff here...he is very well known and respected.

https://www.sillymagic.com/
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RayJ

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Here's a routine of his.  It looks as though he is using some sort of su-table.

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marv long

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duke
With children 6,7,8 yrs old, what makes the difference whether they are delighted or skeptical? Aside from the obvious (to me at least) is how well you perform the illusions.

Beyond that, why do some young audiences become detectives, even verbally aggressive, while others are quite happy to be fooled.

Do you have some words of fantasy and fun that helps to set the mood?


In many cases shows for kids are designed to make the detectives. "Turn it around - no the other way" Sucker tricks create feed back on all tricks IMHO. Parents don't help either. "Well Johnny how do you think he did that?" - so the kid is impelled to come up with an answer.

The best advice I ever heard I think came from David Kaye.  "Hey Mr. Magic - I know how that is done!"
Mr. Magic replies " I don't care."

Full disclosure. I am not a kids performer. I tried it a couple of times and decided to leave it for those much better at it than I.
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lopabrc

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First, I'm not a kids performer,  so others might give you better insight. But in my experience, sometimes kids are "skeptical"  because their logic works different than for adults. For an adult spectator a chop cup routine works partly because adults understand the law of gravity. So, when you lift the cup, most adults asume its empty. But a kid might still want to see the inside of the cup.  It's not that they are challenging you, they just need to see the ball is really gone.  Trying to think from a kids perspective it's been helpful to me in that regard.
Just my 2 cents.
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Duke

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Ray,
that was a fun video!
I'm going to look at more of those for kids.

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RayJ

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duke
Ray,
that was a fun video!
I'm going to look at more of those for kids.


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RayJ

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I think more than anything, you just have to learn as you go.  When you get out there, any pitfalls or limitations will soon be evident and then you can learn and adjust.  The few kids shows I've done benefitted from getting some parents to help monitor the crowd.  That way it was them who urged the kids to be quiet, to remain seated, etc.  Worked for me.  That way I could focus more on the performance.

So when you get to the event, sidle up to a couple of moms or dads and see if they'd be willing to assist.  They want the kids to have fun, that's why you're there, so anything they can do to facilitate that result benefits all concerned.
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Waterman

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I do more kid shows than any other venue, and Ray's advice regarding parents being present during the performance is a MUST! I make it very clear when I accept a show that there will be no magic show without at least one parent being present. I learned early on that most parents hire a magician to give them a break during the party to huddle in the kitchen with a few cocktails and whatever else helps them deal with the chaos of 30 kids running around the house.

As a teacher I also incorporate many of the "quiet" signals that children are exposed to in the classroom. Since they can vary from school to school I ask them what signals their teachers use to get children to quiet down/listen and incorporate them if need be. They can feel a little corny when you use them, but they work!

It's been said before and worth repeating, if you talk down to children and make them feel as if you are somehow superior to them, they will eat you alive. Acknowledge them as curious and engaged observers of your performance and keep on your toes! I have had over 30 years of teaching experience and countless in-services on how to manage children in a variety of environments, HOWEVER, there will always be "that show" where things just go from bad to worse despite the expertise that's been acquired over the years. Those shows will become more few and far between as you become more confident and fine tune your show and presentation style. 

Again, like Ray mentioned...you learn as you go!


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RayJ

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Waterman
I do more kid shows than any other venue, and Ray's advice regarding parents being present during the performance is a MUST! I make it very clear when I accept a show that there will be no magic show without at least one parent being present. I learned early on that most parents hire a magician to give them a break during the party to huddle in the kitchen with a few cocktails and whatever else helps them deal with the chaos of 30 kids running around the house.

As a teacher I also incorporate many of the "quiet" signals that children are exposed to in the classroom. Since they can vary from school to school I ask them what signals their teachers use to get children to quiet down/listen and incorporate them if need be. They can feel a little corny when you use them, but they work!

It's been said before and worth repeating, if you talk down to children and make them feel as if you are somehow superior to them, they will eat you alive. Acknowledge them as curious and engaged observers of your performance and keep on your toes! I have had over 30 years of teaching experience and countless in-services on how to manage children in a variety of environments, HOWEVER, there will always be "that show" where things just go from bad to worse despite the expertise that's been acquired over the years. Those shows will become more few and far between as you become more confident and fine tune your show and presentation style. 

Again, like Ray mentioned...you learn as you go!




Waterman, you make some great points and you obviously speak from experience.
I had a psychology professor in college who always reminded the class that kids aren't stupid, they're just young.  Children are often extremely bright and in today's information age, likely a whole lot more educated in some respects as compared to us older folk.

In any event, the admonishment to show them respect is spot on!

BTW, one example of a "quiet" signal that was used in my kid's elementary school was a series of claps.  It was clap...clap...clap,clap,clap.  All the kids did it along with the teacher or administrator and then they were totally quiet.  Worked like a charm.  A magician could certainly use that device.
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TheAmazingStanley

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Reply with quote  #13 
The one time I did magic for kids, the youngest was a bit older than the group in question here but the thing that strikes me looking back is that I did a card trick and she was enthralled. So don’t rule out card tricks with kids. Just make them ultra visual, participatory, and quick. Like the hand sandwich transposition. That works with kids.
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Duke

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I like that, too!
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Duke

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thanks!
sound ideas.

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arthur stead

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Hi Duke,

Modern media (video games, text messaging, the Internet) has produced a younger generation with a serious lack of attention span.  And children can be ruthless!  They will sense if you’re uncomfortable, and if you lose control of your audience you will not be hired again.  I personally did a LOT of research into child psychology, and specifically into how to control groups of excited kids, before attempting to perform for them.

That said, the “Little Detectives” will only become a problem if you let them.  I won’t go into structuring an entire show here, but if your performance is well-paced and interactive, maintaining momentum without any awkward pauses, the kids will have less of a chance to disrupt you.  Regarding performing for kids in general, here are some excepts I’ve paraphrased from my lecture notes:

KID-CONTROL 

There is an extremely important aspect of performing for kids which you should not ignore:  Built-in audience controls!  You cannot afford to let a group of excited children take advantage of you.  So add some kid-controlling techniques to your routines.  Here are a few examples: 

  • 1.  Ask them questions. 
  • 2.  Get them to raise their hands and yell the Magic Words. 
  • 3.  Involve them in a game. 
  • 4.  Instruct them to tell you if they see something happening while your back is turned (the kids love that!) 

WARM-UP 

This useful device gets the kids in the right mood and sets the tone for the rest of the show.  It also allows you to instruct them on how to behave and respond during your program.  It’s very important to establish these guidelines at the very beginning.  The author/magician David Ginn has a whole series of warm-ups that he’s shared with the magic community in his books and lectures. 

For my own shows, I sometimes use Trevor Lewis’ Blooming Bouquet as an opener for the younger kids.  For the older children, I usually jump right in and “coach” them on how to respond when they see something they like during the show.  I highly recommend that you utilize a Warm-Up which works for you. 

FUN, FUN, FUN! 

Kids want to have fun!   Your show has to be interactive and fun.  It must be interesting and amusing to the kids.  Use dazzling magic tricks to grab their attention.  Tell a funny story or sing a silly song.  Get the audience involved by using volunteer helpers onstage.  Ask them funny questions.  Use a rare musical instrument or a puppet to rouse their interest and make them laugh. 

You’ll find that for the younger kids, “funny business” is much more important than the actual magic.  Keep them entertained with corny jokes, gentle teasing, “magician-in-trouble” routines, sucker tricks (where you bear the brunt of the joke, not the children), etc.  Trevor Lewis and Terry Herbert are experts at this kind of “funny business.”

INVOLVE THE ADULTS

All my shows include two or three “groaner” jokes directed at the parents in the room.  This is important because, as RayJ and Waterman said, you want adults to be present during your show.  Their presence will (usually) help to avoid pandemonium.  And involving the parents will make them remember you, which could lead to future bookings.

There are many other techniques I could share, such as in-show-marketing, promotional hand-outs, name recognition, the use of music as a contol device, etc.  But then this post will go on forever.  Hopefully what I’ve written so far will be helpful.  I’d be happy to share whatever I can, Duke.  Just post here or PM me.

Arthur

 


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Duke

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Reply with quote  #17 
I am going to save this fine outline!
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