I recently spoke to my very good friend, who...like myself...has been performing Magic for a very long time. He is currently helping his 11 year old Grandson, to learn Magic. My friend has started out with the basics and this youngster is progressing remarkably well. So far, this young man has practiced and performed Ring on Rope and The Professor's Nightmare. My friend is extremely proud of his Grandson, as he has shown a natural ability and is well on his way to having great passion for our Conjuring Arts.
So, what's the problem?...you may ask. In a nutshell, my good friend has bought a Magic Trick for his Grandson and will be giving it to him on the young man's Birthday, in a few days. Ok, so? The trick that the youngster will be receiving is "The Self Tying Shoelaces", Cool! Right? Well, yes and no....Here's the deal...
My good friend has asked the young man not to open his gift in front of others. Telling his Grandson, that people will see the "work" behind STS. My friend has taught his Grandson The Magician's Code of Ethics and has said that by opening the STS package... it will reveal it's secret for others to see.
I'm all for The Magician's Code of Ethics and have honored them for numerous years. But, I question my friend's tactfulness towards his Grandson. Is my friend putting too much pressure on this 11 year boy? Asking him to open his gift in private, so that others will not see the secret contained within the package? Suppose the package was opened for all to see, would they really know what it is, they were looking at? By merely seeing what was inside, would they be able to devise the secret?
I believe that this is too much pressure for a youngster to handle. To prove my point...this same young man, while learning Ring on Rope, showed his talents off to his parents. Yet, they saw some of "the moves" invovled, as he was still in the practicing stages. The young man asked his folks not to tell his Grandfather (my good friend), as he was afraid of what he might say. So, are the Magician's Code of Ethics...scary?? Or is it...how, they are presented to impressionable youngsters?
I certainly agree that practice makes perfect...and then once we think it's perfect, we practice some more. But, with a young man, 11 years old...it seems he too, is proud of what he is learning. So, he will naturally want to show off what he has learned. It just concerns me that this youngster was more worried about what his Grandfather had taught him about the Magician's Code of Ethics. He obviously felt ashamed for unwittingly revealing a 'secret move' during his performance. Yet, instead of thinking about putting in more practice time, this young man was scared his Grandfather might be disappointed.
It's almost like my good friend...although teaching the proper Ethics, was using our Code of Secrecy as a Bargaining Chip. So, much so that the youngster has some fear of reprisal.
Obviously, in this case The Magician's Code of Ethics was perhaps presented to this youngster in the wrong way. How could we, as Magicians, present it better? Mentoring others to perform is great, but where do we draw the line?