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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #1 
I'm really stoked.  There is a member of my local church whose son is learning magic.  I've known the father for a couple of years but he had no idea that I knew any magic.  I saw his son doing a trick for some kids and mentioned it to him.  In about two weeks we are getting together.  I told the father that at first I just want to see his son perform some effects and gauge where he is at.  I will show him a few effects that I think are age-appropriate.  This is not the first time I've had the privilege to work with a student, but it has been a long time.
Wish me luck!
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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #2 
Luck? To what end? Seems to me that your obvious enthusiasm is more than enough. How's about this: Here's hoping that the relationship turns out to be mutually beneficial and that you both learn from one another!

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RayJ

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Vinson
Luck? To what end? Seems to me that your obvious enthusiasm is more than enough. How's about this: Here's hoping that the relationship turns out to be mutually beneficial and that you both learn from one another!

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Thanks for the kind words!
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arthur stead

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Reply with quote  #4 

Congratulations, RayJ.  And good luck when you get together with your student!

I never had a mentor, although I did take some lessons from Danny Tong a long time ago.  And I learnt a lot from attending lectures and conventions, plus once in a while I gained valuable tips from a few magic legends whom I managed to encounter in one-on-one situations.  The rest of my knowledge came from books and videos and personal trial and error.

But I wonder what it would have been like to have a real magic mentor; someone I looked up to who was willing to put in the time to share their ideas, skills and experience.

One thing I do know, having taught at a music college for two years, is that the experience of teaching teaches you a lot about yourself and your subject(s). 


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RayJ

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Update:  Well, the first session was this past Sunday after our church's 46th anniversary luncheon.  I didn't know it beforehand but my "student" was asked to do some strolling tricks at the event.  This gave me a great opportunity to watch him perform.  So I watched him off-and-on as he did some tricks for small groups.

Afterwards we got together and I was able to discuss what I had seen.  I kept everything very positive, but did offer to show him some moves that are more "reliable" especially concerning his Ambitious Card routine.  His DL needed a lot of work.

There was also a sequence he was using where he had to get a break on the bottom card of the pack and what he was doing was awkward so I gave him a couple of options that work more easily.  One thing I complimented him on was how he had the spectator sign their card to make it "special".  He also had them identify their favorite card and he used that for the ACR.  At the end he offered to let them keep the card.  It seemed to play very well.

I then moved on to a couple of tricks that I judged were within his grasp and it went pretty well.  I found out a couple of things right off of the bat.  First, teaching isn't easy.  Things that I've been doing for 30 to 40 years or more just "happen" in my hands.  To stop and explain can be quite difficult.  

I also found that Jargon isn't universal.  I may have to write up a list of "magic terms" along with brief explanations to assist in our dialogue.  

Another thing I learned is to not try to do too much.  I had packed a bag with props and we never got to most of them.  I guess it is like packing for a trip and you come home only to realize you have half a suitcase full of clean clothes leftover.

In the end it was great fun for me and I trust very helpful and fun for him as well.  He seemed very excited.

I think next time I'll pack fewer things and we can concentrate on some basic stuff.  I also want to see what he has been working on and how it is coming along.

Until next time...


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Dave Campbell

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Reply with quote  #6 
Sounds like fun times!

I had seen some kids at church doing magic tricks as well a couple years ago.

I hit one of them up and talked for a bit with the youth group leader. Had planned on some sort of meeting with the youth group leader and the one main boy.

Turns out he was just interested in doing easy stuff he could learn on YouTube... didn't have any interest in really learning anything.

Took the wind out of my sails

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RayJ

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Campbell
Sounds like fun times!

I had seen some kids at church doing magic tricks as well a couple years ago.

I hit one of them up and talked for a bit with the youth group leader. Had planned on some sort of meeting with the youth group leader and the one main boy.

Turns out he was just interested in doing easy stuff he could learn on YouTube... didn't have any interest in really learning anything.

Took the wind out of my sails


Well you never know when seeds are planted.  Although there are a lot of "flash-in-the-pan" people in the world that get interested in something and start out like a house afire and then burn out.  You just never can tell.  There are some well known magicians that moved on eventually.  
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Bill Guinee

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This all sounds great, Ray. I do have one comment for you about teaching - I was a professor for many years. I always had more lecture notes than I could get to in a single class period. It made me feel comfortable that I wouldn't run out of material. That works fine EXCEPT when I began to feel pressured, to feel that I had to get through a lot of stuff. When that would happen, I would speed up to cover more material. The result was that the students were exposed to a lot of information that they did not learn or understand as well. It was always better when I slowed down, even if it meant that at the end of the semester I had not covered everything. They would still have learned more. So, I wouldn't hesitate to pack more than I need as long as I can resist the urge to feel that having planned a lesson, I have to complete it.
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RayJ

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Guinee
This all sounds great, Ray. I do have one comment for you about teaching - I was a professor for many years. I always had more lecture notes than I could get to in a single class period. It made me feel comfortable that I wouldn't run out of material. That works fine EXCEPT when I began to feel pressured, to feel that I had to get through a lot of stuff. When that would happen, I would speed up to cover more material. The result was that the students were exposed to a lot of information that they did not learn or understand as well. It was always better when I slowed down, even if it meant that at the end of the semester I had not covered everything. They would still have learned more. So, I wouldn't hesitate to pack more than I need as long as I can resist the urge to feel that having planned a lesson, I have to complete it.


Good points!  BTW, what subject or subjects did you teach?  When I first went to college I aspired to be a biology teacher.  I chose another path.
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Bill Guinee

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Quote:
Originally Posted by RayJ


Good points!  BTW, what subject or subjects did you teach?  When I first went to college I aspired to be a biology teacher.  I chose another path.


I was a cultural anthropologist.
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Senor Fabuloso

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Reply with quote  #11 
Not at all, related the the first post but replying to the topic in general.

Mentoring

It seems to be a labor of love for some. An additional revenue stream, for others. And still for many, an unappreciated form of education, in a time of instant gratification and the internet.

The times they are a changing and an old fossil like me remembers, how hard acquiring knowledge of magic was. I had a bit of an edge with my mom being in show business already but still, when I wanted self study specific to magic it was difficult.

Back in those days around 1969 to find information about magic one had to go to a library. You know those ancient building, filled with books. First you perused a file card system, found the section of the library a book might be in and then hopefully found your book, if it hadn't been borrowed by someone else. You had two weeks before being charged the astronomical fee of 5 cents a day if you failed to bring it back on time. Most magic books were in the kids section and that was ok because I was a kid. However some of the material was really old like Dunningers Complete Encyclopedia Of Magic.

There weren't many books and most were very basic. In one however was a list of magic shops through the country and living in New York had Tannen's very accessible. Mom brought me to the store on my 8th bday and gave me $50 dollars to spend. I bought a Double load dove pan and the first book in the Tarbell course, recommended to me by the counter person, whom I believe was John Blake.

For about two years I frequented the shop, buying all manor of tricks with absolutely no rhyme or reason, occasionally picking up a additional volumes of Tarbell. Honestly  though I did't really want to read. I wanted tricks. A few thousand dollars latter when at the shop and about ready to waste some more money, A very distinguished gentleman called me over to where there was a group of magicians talking and showing each other things. He said "kid I've been watching you and it's about time you start learning magic" That man was Frank Garcia.

You see I had "paid my dues" and was ready to be mentored, by one of the best in business. So we would meet regularly, have lunch and I would learn. The point being that only after a significant investment of both time and money, did my teacher appear.

Today things seem so much easier, for those interested in the craft. The internet and almost immediate availability of information, almost makes mentoring obsolete. But nothing and I mean nothing is a substitute, for personal instruction. The mentor not only teaches the skills but movement, inflection of voice, charismatic projection and so many other things, to numerous to mention. 

obviously I'm a proponent of mentoring and am so excited to here that the tradition continues of passing down the craft, from mentor to protege.

Keep up the tradition Ray and may the process of teaching be as rewarding to you, as to your student.

God Speed.

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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #12 
Thanks Senor.  Yes, things are way different now.  In St. Louis, we had one "real" magic shop and that was called Devoe's Magic Den.  Gene Devoe was a former professional magician that still performed professionally but his main income was now through the store.  He was one of the friendliest, most caring people you could meet, but he didn't show that side to everyone.  He didn't suffer fools greatly and if he sniffed out the fact that you weren't serious he could be quite cold and aloof.

Once he warmed up to you, totally different story.  When I was quite young, my mom took me into the shop and would ask Gene for suggestions on appropriate tricks, books, whatever.  He respected her for that and always steered me in the right direction.  I avoided all of the garishly-painted props and focused on tricks involving sleight of hand.  For one thing, many of them were cheaper!  No joke.  A set of billiard balls can keep you busy for life, long after you stop performing the square circle.  

The other thing Gene was good about was helping purchasers actually learn the trick.  If the shop was slow he would take extra time to demonstrate his presentation of the various tricks and often added way more value by showing tips and techniques that he had developed over the years.  That was way better than the enclosed instructions.  I remember I was looking to buy a Zombie Ball and we had a lengthy discussion over the foulard and which color would work best for me.
He was that into details.

So Gene was a mentor.  Harry Monti was a mentor, Danny Fleshman was a mentor and Chris Kenner and John Mendoza were mentors.  I was very lucky to have known them all.  A little of each rubbed off on me.
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #13 
Update:  I had another session with my student yesterday.  It was fun.  He asked me some really good questions based upon things he was working on.  He also asked about wanting to learn more magic with everyday objects.  He had a desire to product a coffee stirrer.  We attend church together and our church has a "coffee house" where folks gather and he takes advantage of that to work on his tricks and presentation skills.  He thought it would be neat to approach someone and ask if they needed a coffee stirrer and produce one.  We worked it out together.  He had the idea of palming it, in a sort of "cigar palm" where you hold it between the tip of your middle finger and the heel of your hand.  The stirrer is a bit long for that but you can hold it against your wrist and it works OK.  He wears a bracelet on his right hand so I suggested he could use that as a "holdout" and then work it into palm position from there.  He didn't know how he wanted to produce it and I suggested that he might act as though he is pulling it out of something such as a coin purse.  We also tried some barehanded methods.  In short, it was a fun exercise.  We brainstormed about other things he can work with that are found in the coffee house, such as sugar packets and creamers.  So he is going to try to work something out on his own.  

I showed him some simple rope things involving vanishing knots and some ring-and-rope stuff.  He was very happy to learn them.

So another fun and profitable session.  BTW, his mother is very patient.  She waited, along with their other kids while we worked on things.  Parents are awesome.
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Bmat

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Reply with quote  #14 
Sounds like its going great!  Good news. 
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