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Mind Phantom

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My phone says that "talent " is;

A natural aptitude or a skill, An inner quality that emerges effortlessly.

When I watch a figure skater, I mean the best of them I say to myself " Man she's got a lot of talent " He or she has developed that skill by practicing over and over again and again.

I would say to newbies starting out in the craft it takes a long time to polish your routines ...that goes for those doing card tricks to mentalism.

So, you might as well just enjoy the process. The key to success is HOW you approach practice. That figure skater has mastered the technical elements of each move as well as the artistic presentation of the routine. When combined into their final skating program, it's a powerful expression of their skill and grace.

The real work is practice.

Any thoughts you have I would love to read them.

Rick-




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Jack Deschain

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A little backstory:

When I first started out as a musician in grade school my percussion teacher was adamant that all you needed to do was 20 minutes of serious concentrated practice every day and you will see fast gains. Don't try to cram in a weeks worth of practice on Sunday before your lesson on Monday. It will be obvious and you will actually hinder your progress. And guess what, he was absolutely right. I've adapted that idea to just about anything that requires long term practice to get good at.  20 minutes goes by fast and you are less likely to get frustrated by trying to learn too fast. Can you do more than 20 minutes? Absolutely. Years later I was practicing for hours but I was older, had more discipline, and knew HOW to practice properly. I would not recommend it initially. 

It used to infuriate me when people would call me "talented." People perceive it as some great compliment but to me it dismissed the countless hours I put into it. I was just as bad as the next person when I first started. Nothing came for free. I simply loved the act of learning and practicing and was willing to put in the work. 

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RayJ

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Deschain

A little backstory:

When I first started out as a musician in grade school my percussion teacher was adamant that all you needed to do was 20 minutes of serious concentrated practice every day and you will see fast gains. Don't try to cram in a weeks worth of practice on Sunday before your lesson on Monday. It will be obvious and you will actually hinder your progress. And guess what, he was absolutely right. I've adapted that idea to just about anything that requires long term practice to get good at.  20 minutes goes by fast and you are less likely to get frustrated by trying to learn too fast. Can you do more than 20 minutes? Absolutely. Years later I was practicing for hours but I was older, had more discipline, and knew HOW to practice properly. I would not recommend it initially. 

It used to infuriate me when people would call me "talented." People perceive it as some great compliment but to me it dismissed the countless hours I put into it. I was just as bad as the next person when I first started. Nothing came for free. I simply loved the act of learning and practicing and was willing to put in the work. 



I like that response Jack. How many performers cringe when they are deemed an "overnight success" despite years of paying their dues.
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Paco Nagata

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Reply with quote  #4 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mind Phantom
The real work is practice.

And Passion [smile]

I was too busy being in love with Card Magic to think about weather or not I had the talet for it.

I think that if you do your best in something you really like, I'm pretty sure that your best would mean enough talent to be good at it.

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TheAmazingStanley

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I think it was John McEnroe who said he had more talent in his pinky than Ivan Lendl had in his whole body, but Lendl beat him because he worked harder. I also remember seeing footage of Larry Bird running through the aisles in the empty arena where the team just arrived. He never stopped working. Talent won’t get you to the NBA.
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Socrates

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Reply with quote  #6 
Jack's thoughts remind me of the Jazz Pianist Kenny Werner and his wonderful book 'Effortless Mastery' - I enjoyed reading this book and applying it to the study of magic, he recommends committing yourself to a 5min practice routine everyday, little and often being key... plus you will almost always go over the 5 min mark, whereas if you commit to an hours or more per day, you soon find it a chore if you're like most people. 

Keep it strong and simple, for a while now I've been working on only performing one piece of magic - treating the magic like a special effect in a movie, or one element of a short story... in my experience one piece of strong magic will suffice! 
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Mind Phantom

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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheAmazingStanley
Talent won’t get you to the NBA.


Look at Michael Jordan, the greatest NBA player of all time, and it wasn't because he was the most talented player, but because he practiced and trained intensely or as much as he did. Nobody wanted it as bad as he did.

When I got back into magic after a long time away I went to the local magic shop in the bay area of California and bought me some tapes of  Martin Nash..I had the book Gambling Scams from Darwin Ortiz which I used as a outline to perform a Crooked Gambling Show with.

After the Nash tapes I got Allan Ackerman's False Deals and then after that I got Jack Carpenter's Gambling Routines tape.

I had left a job in the bay area of Cali to work in the valley as a security guard logging in trucks for a local company, sitting in the guard shack five days a week. 

So, with all this time on my hands in the guard shack, I practiced the things on the tapes over and over again until I got it. On saturdays and sunday nights I practiced 8 hours per day and on the other days I would put in at least 4 hours a night of practice. I worked graveyard shift..so I made use of my time there. After that I would practice at the local Starbucks to get the experince of performing in a public setting.

I did this for 3 years and then I used the Ortiz book Gambling Scams as my outline to do a Crooked Gambling Show with. So, that's how I got back into magic. It would be later on that I would get into mentalism because that would fit my personal personality a lot better, I am sort of a new age guy lol. I am not a hippie or anything like that it's just that I have metaphysical interests that I've had my whole life i.e like trying to move objects with my mind as a kid..and I knew who Uri Geller was at the time.

All that practice gave me confidence that I could perform under fire the moves and the routines needed to be done in a show like that.

Rick-


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RayJ

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Interesting discussion.  When we're kids, we often hear someone say, "you can achieve anything you set yourself out to do."

Sidney Friedman's quote is similar, but more detailed.

You can achieve anything you want in life if you have the courage to dream it, the intelligence to make a realistic plan, and the will to see the plan through to the end.”

The bold highlight is my addition.  To me, it is the crux of the quote.  Be realistic.

The fact is, it just isn't so.  People will have limitations, based on a number of factors which will ultimately cap their progress or ability to realize their goal.  Not in all cases, mind you, but I believe it is true for many.
For example, I played baseball, coached baseball and now I'm an umpire at a local organization.  Unfortunately I've only officiated one game this year due to Covid and currently all games have been halted.

Being involved at multiple levels means I've seen players of all stripes, natural athletes and those that achieved a level of performance through hard work.  Some are simply born with more talent.  If you are a baseball fan, you've undoubtedly heard the saying "A 90 miles per hour fastball is born, not made".  And I believe that's true.  Some simply have an innate advantage.  Sure, they still have to work hard, lift weights, do their long throws, etc., but they can get there.  Others can do the exact same workouts and never get through the 80's.  I had a nephew who pitched college ball.  He maxed out around 84 MPH.  He tried everything.  Weights, supplements, etc., but never could gain any more speed.  In order to win his position in the bullpen he had to totally change his delivery.  He went from a "conventional" style delivery to a "submarine" approach, hoping to fool batters rather than overpower them.  So the lesson is he used the talent he DID have and maxed it out in order to achieve his goal of being on the team.  However, his true passion was to be a starter and that just wasn't to be.

OK, so what does that have to do with magic?  Well its the same thing.  Some are born with more innate ability to use their hands to accomplish complex maneuvers.  That's not to say that those who weren't can't also learn complicated sleights, but it will be more difficult for sure and there might be some they just never can master.  Hand size, by the way isn't a limitation.  There have been many outstanding magicians who had small hands and big hands and even one famous on that had no hands.

The example above about tennis was an interesting one and one I could relate to because back in the day I played and watched a lot of tennis.  The Jimmy Connors era was the best, in my opinion.  But having said that, John McEnroe was an extremely gifted athlete.  He was also an outstanding soccer player, perhaps even more than tennis.  And yes it is true that he could be beaten by Lendl and others that weren't as talented.  But, and there's always a but, had he focused on training as hard as Lendl, then Lendl would never had stood a chance against him.  Even with talent you shouldn't neglect training, diet and recovery.

I've only focused on physical talent.  You could also discuss differences in the mind.  Some have an innate sense of drama and story.  Some are blessed with charm while others are withdrawn.   There are any number of abilities in play and I believe they all are subject to the same rules.

 

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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheAmazingStanley
I think it was John McEnroe who said he had more talent in his pinky than Ivan Lendl had in his whole body, but Lendl beat him because he worked harder. I also remember seeing footage of Larry Bird running through the aisles in the empty arena where the team just arrived. He never stopped working. Talent won’t get you to the NBA.


Stanley, please check out my lengthy contribution to the thread if you have time where I flesh out this a little bit.  I don't disagree with the main idea you present, but I do take it a step further for a little different perspective.
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GregB

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Reply with quote  #10 
Great thoughts Ray. I think the old saying goes like "a goal without a plan is just a dream" We can't just want to be good, we have to work at it. Some people have a born advantage, but that doesn't mean they will do anything with it.
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RayJ

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Quote:
Originally Posted by GregB
Great thoughts Ray. I think the old saying goes like "a goal without a plan is just a dream" We can't just want to be good, we have to work at it. Some people have a born advantage, but that doesn't mean they will do anything with it.


Very true.  And sometimes you can have all of the advantages in the world and lack the chutzpah it takes to do something with it.  On the other hand, you may seem to be lacking and still achieve at the highest levels.

Harry Lorayne, I think is a great example.  Given his upbringing and his dyslexia, a lot of folks would have bet against him.  But guess what?  He proved them wrong and would not be denied success.
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Dave Campbell

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Reply with quote  #12 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayJ


You can achieve anything you want in life if you have the courage to dream it, the intelligence to make a realistic plan, and the will to see the plan through to the end.”



Very interesting discussion, and glad you wrote that comment, Ray...

I played guitar for a living for a while - it paid my way through college. I was good, but not great. I also taught a lot of guitar students over the years. Most were just slogging their way through the lessons. The most advanced was one that had about 6 years of classical training on piano prior to coming to me, plus she had perfect pitch. One stand-out student could just do anything. After a couple weeks, I could play something and she could play it back to me.... lead work, not chord-work -- but I've no doubt that had she continued, she could have done that as well.

That talent was not taught or practiced, she was born with that talent. I think all great athletes and musicians are that way. Can we include magicians? maybe... I'm not saying it also doesn't include hard work. Talent has to be honed and perfected. But I'll guarantee you that no amount of practice could have me dribbling a basketball between opposing team members and jumping 4 or 5 feet off the ground to dunk a basketball -- that just would NOT happen!

At the same time, I might have the ability to understand everything that (pick a guitarist) can do/is doing, but I know from personal effort that there is a level I never would have attained. I could have supported myself… but would never have gotten beyond being 'good'.

I have been designing software for a living for 43 years. I've met a lot of people that have had the education and desire to do so, but they were no good at it.

I believe everyone has a niche they fit into, and the happiest are the ones that are able to find it, and hone that niche into a career. It would have done me no good to be designing software during the day and trying to practice dribbling a basketball for hours on end at night... I would never make it to the NBA. But for me, spending off-time learning new software techniques/languages helped make me better at what I did all day... essentially practice.

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RayJ

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Campbell


Very interesting discussion, and glad you wrote that comment, Ray...

I played guitar for a living for a while - it paid my way through college. I was good, but not great. I also taught a lot of guitar students over the years. Most were just slogging their way through the lessons. The most advanced was one that had about 6 years of classical training on piano prior to coming to me, plus she had perfect pitch. One stand-out student could just do anything. After a couple weeks, I could play something and she could play it back to me.... lead work, not chord-work -- but I've no doubt that had she continued, she could have done that as well.

That talent was not taught or practiced, she was born with that talent. I think all great athletes and musicians are that way. Can we include magicians? maybe... I'm not saying it also doesn't include hard work. Talent has to be honed and perfected. But I'll guarantee you that no amount of practice could have me dribbling a basketball between opposing team members and jumping 4 or 5 feet off the ground to dunk a basketball -- that just would NOT happen!

At the same time, I might have the ability to understand everything that (pick a guitarist) can do/is doing, but I know from personal effort that there is a level I never would have attained. I could have supported myself… but would never have gotten beyond being 'good'.

I have been designing software for a living for 43 years. I've met a lot of people that have had the education and desire to do so, but they were no good at it.

I believe everyone has a niche they fit into, and the happiest are the ones that are able to find it, and hone that niche into a career. It would have done me no good to be designing software during the day and trying to practice dribbling a basketball for hours on end at night... I would never make it to the NBA. But for me, spending off-time learning new software techniques/languages helped make me better at what I did all day... essentially practice.


Great stuff Dave!  As I was reading it, I thought of the old saying "those who can't, teach.  Not that you couldn't do it, you were obviously good enough to make a living, but I mean there are others that might not be performers themselves but can be a heck of a teacher.  Or perhaps they are the creators, the Jim Steinmeyers of the world.
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