Mentors

All beginners in magic should address their questions here.

Postby Muse M » 10/23/10 04:38 PM

Forgive me if I've breached etiquette and posted in the wrong section. I'm willing to remove/rephrase as appropriate.

I've started off down what I've found amusingly like the rabbit-hole in Alice in Wonderland. Magic is amazing, and I've found I really do enjoy learning.
However, I'm rather confused as to one of the subtle differences between the UK and the USA. When I first mentioned to some friends that I was interested in learning, someone offered to be my mentor. I know from some American friends that mentoring a junior mage is pretty much the done thing there...here in the UK I was met by baffled glances, often with 'How much are they charging you'-type questions.

How relevant is it to have a mentor? Is it a rite of passage, or is it just a varient of book learning?
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Postby Joe Mckay » 10/23/10 08:39 PM

I live in the UK as well. And I agree that mentors are less common here than they are in the US (from what I can tell).

I am a book guy and really enjoy the freedom to wander off on any path I want. So - for me - mentors wouldn't work for me. But I don't perform much, so my needs are probably different to yours.

We are lucky that there is so much great literature around these days. In the olden days - when information was more scarce - I think having a mentor would have being a really good idea.

So - for me - it kinda' comes down to geting access to the stuff that isn't in print. And for that - I can imagine certain mentors would be amazing. For instance to study under Frank Thompson would be great since he hardly published anything. At the other extreme I quite like the idea of having someone like Roy Walton as a mentor. If only because he creates so much great material that I can imagine alot of it would never see print. Harry Riser, Juan Tamariz and Dai Vernon are similar examples...

As you can see from my examples - you would need to be incredibly lucky to have access to a mentor of the quality I have mentioned. The people mentioned above are pretty much geniuses. As such I am rather unsure what can be gained from a more 'run of the mill' mentor which wouldn't be gained from diving head first into as many books as posible. And don't forget - that magic forums such as this can help provide some of the roles that a mentor might fulfill. In that you can throw out any question you want and most of the time you will get an intelligent response...

Just my two pence,

Joe
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Postby Muse M » 10/24/10 04:57 AM

Thanks, Joe! I agree, having an extraordinary mentor would definitely be a plus - the guy I'm currently being mentored by is pretty special, though. (I asked around casually and though he's not one of the first names that trip off people's tongues when they talk about currently mentoring mages, he's had quite a good response.)

The main thing that I feel I personally get from having a mentor is being able to see tricks in action rather than trying to work out some of the illustrations in the Mark Wilson (I can't be the only one who finds it near-impossible to work out those illustrations, or maybe ((as I suspect)) I'm just dim...)
I borrow all of my books from the public library, so I'm rather limited as to what I can put my hands on. If only there was an equivalent for magicians...but then that wouldn't make us as exclusive, would it? ;)
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Postby Joe Mckay » 10/24/10 07:36 AM

I didn't realise you already have a mentor - good luck with that...

You know it has being about 15 years since I became interested in magic. And I often forget how confusing I found things back then. So - perhaps a mentor is a good idea for a beginner.

I was trying to consider things from the point of view of a more experienced magician...

By the way - you may want to check out KNACK MAGIC TRICKS by Richard Kaufman. He is the guy who runs this forum (and GENII magazine). I am going to pick up a copy soon as well - and I can't imagine a better qualified person to write a good beginner's magic book.

I have seen the table of contetns and it contains a whole bunch of sneaky ideas which were previously buried away in print. Including a few that I used to jealously hide from other magicians. It is of a much higher standard than I have seen in other 'books for the general public'.

Other beginner books that I like (that contain a bunch of great material which will fool even the most knowledgable magician) would be the Karl Fulves' card trick books that he has published for DOVER PUBLICATIONS. And another great one is 'Charles Jordans' Best Card Tricks' also by DOVER PUBLICATIONS.

I read the Mark Wilson book a couple of years ago - and I didn't think it was particularly well written. And the photos seem more for show than for actually helping to teach the trick. But then I am pretty dim as well - so I can't be sure it is the book's fault...

All the best,

Joe
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Postby Joe Mckay » 10/26/10 06:35 AM

One last point. Aaron Fisher has a blog which talks alot about mentors. It is an interesting area and Aaron is very passionate about it. Here is the LINK.

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Postby Ablanathanalba » 10/31/10 12:53 AM

I'm here in the States and have been giving this topic some thought as well. I've always been a book guy, and enjoying reading some of "the classics" but feel it'd be nice to watch someone do some of the stuff and tutor a bit on the subtleties. I agree that the diagrams aren't always easy to follow and there's something to be said for being able to observe the fluidity of a move from beginning to end.

The guy who owns the magic shop about 20 miles north of me seems to have been plying the trade for 30 years and recognized in various organizations. I think I may ask him about this.
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