Too Far ??

All beginners in magic should address their questions here.

Postby Guest » 08/06/07 09:47 AM

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?
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Postby Brandon Hall » 08/06/07 10:36 AM

You raise a great question. I would be surprised if most of the pressure on the boy wasn't self imposed. Perfectionsm is a trait we pick up at a very young age. It's not a bad thing to desire to please ones mentor. He seems to be taking his magic seriously and is lucky to have someone teaching him the ethics along side of the techniques.
"Hope I Die Before I Get Old"
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Postby Guest » 08/06/07 10:45 AM

I don't think this is wrong at all. The self-tying shoelace is a quasi-professional trick. If the boy opens it up in front of the rest of the people at the party and strings all the parts out for all and sundry to see, even though he may not give them enough information to reconstruct the trick, he will certainly be showing things that he shouldn't.

Parents are the first audience for almost all magicians, and they are bound to see the workings of at least the first few tricks. Then the young magician begins to get the idea that magic isn't magic to those who know the secret. By instilling in him the importance of keeping the secret to himself, he has given him a good start down the road of ethical magical behavior.

Some people never get it.
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Postby Guest » 08/06/07 10:48 AM

First of all 11 isn't really all that young. 11 year olds usually think in a much more grown up way than given credit for. Sure they're not grown up yet but they're not little kids either.

Also, I don't know the tone or the full facts of this case, but when I was younger I loved having little private conspiricies with my Grandad. I probably wouldn't have seen this as pressure, I would have really enjoyed it.

I really don't know how much, if any, pressure this fella is putting on the lad. It may be the case that the young man just doesn't want to 'let Grandad down' - not because there's pressure there from Grandad but because there's pressure from the Grandson himself to impress his Grandad. I can understand that, and I don't think it's especially harmful.

Finally maybe Granda is just looking out for him. If the youngster opens STS in front of people, it doesn't matter if they know how it works - they know it's a bought and paid for trick. When he performs it at some point in the future, no matter how well he does it the reaction will simply be confined to 'oh that's the trick you got as a present'.
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Postby Guest » 08/06/07 11:33 AM

I have to agree with Dextrous Joe above. If or when people see a magic trick confined in a wrapper, they may give credit for a great performance of said trick to the package, not the performer. "oh, he's doing that thing that came already prepared in his gift box...."

Not so if the present were a book given to the lad in front of other people. If he did a trick later that he learned in a book rather than a packaged trick, HE would get the credit for reading, learning, practicing and performing the trick.
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Postby Guest » 08/06/07 12:15 PM

If the package is wrapped as a gift, then opening it would be removing the wrapper to show the product package. No exposure so far as I can see.

What's the question?
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Postby Guest » 08/06/07 01:45 PM

Playing the devil's advocate for a second and thinking from a layman's point of view, a magic trick package may give the impression that "hey, if I got that package, then I too could do the trick". Kind of like people thinking they too could perform magic if they just knew the secret.
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Postby Guest » 08/06/07 02:03 PM

Originally posted by Randy Gastreich:
Playing the devil's advocate for a second and thinking from a layman's point of view, a magic trick package may give the impression that "hey, if I got that package, then I too could do the trick". Kind of like people thinking they too could perform magic if they just knew the secret.
Um Randy?... that sort of thinking is not limited to layman
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Postby Guest » 08/06/07 03:02 PM

Jonathan, you are right of course.

Back to the original question. Taking the above scenario out of context and none of us knowing the tone, delivery, etc., I'm going to give good old Grandpa the benefit of the doubt and say he was looking out for the best interest of both his Grandson and the art of magic in general. Either that or we call Child Protective Services and have the old man locked up.... I'm good either way. ;)
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Postby Guest » 08/07/07 06:26 AM

Originally posted by Brandon Hall:
You raise a great question. I would be surprised if most of the pressure on the boy wasn't self imposed. Perfectionsm is a trait we pick up at a very young age. It's not a bad thing to desire to please ones mentor. He seems to be taking his magic seriously and is lucky to have someone teaching him the ethics along side of the techniques.
I totally agree with your statement, here. My main question about the Magician's Code of Ethics still remains. In the case of this young man, perhaps he interpretted in his own mind what his Grandfather was trying to teach. When mentoring any student, how can we as Magician's present our Code of Secrecy...so that they are viewed as a benefit, rather than an edict?
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Postby Guest » 08/07/07 07:01 AM

Years ago, I was in a similar situation.

It started when my son was a few years younger than eleven, probably about seven, and continued into his mid teens. He would often give me opinions on my sleights, presentations, etc, and I found them extremely useful. (I was sorry when he drifted away from it years later.)

And during that time, if he wanted to know how I'd done an effect, I'd tell him. And there was a strict understanding that he never ever told anybody else how any of it was done.

It wasn't the same situation as that cited - my son only performed a few basic effects. But I observed that, while keeping it secret was an onus, it was one that he bore with pride. Spectators would ask him whether he knew how I'd performed some effect, and he'd reply that yes, he knew, but that he'd never tell anybody. The spectators were usually impressed by that, and that pleased me (and pleased my son too, I think).

I'm just making the point that, at that age, keeping secrets can be difficult, but it can also be a source of justly-deserved pride. My son was (quite rightly) proud of he fact that he never told anybody how any effect was achieved.

Dave
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Postby Guest » 08/07/07 07:23 AM

Magician's code of ethics...

Surely you are attempting a jest?
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Postby Guest » 08/07/07 01:10 PM

As a grandfather of 23 children and involved in magic for over 66 years I would like to express my personal opinion. I too have taught some of my grandchildren how to perform certain effects. It was never intended that they would attempt to "fool" their parents but rather to entertain their friends. Does a magician practise in order to "fool" his wife or to entertain others. Children will one way or another get their parents involved in the "secret". No harm is done by that, in fact, the parent may be able to help the child perform. A magical birthday gift does not have to be expossed beyond saying that it is for magicians only. Every child likes to open all of their gifts at their party and should never be prevented from doing so.
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Postby Harry Lorayne » 08/07/07 02:33 PM

Teach the kid sleight of hand, give him books as presents. Much better for the kid, better for everyone, problem solved. hl
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