Focus & Creating Routines

All beginners in magic should address their questions here.

Postby Guest » 07/25/01 08:13 PM

When just getting started in magic, do you think it's important to focus on a particular area (cards vs coins vs kids magic), or to experiment with everything until you find what you like? There's a lot to learn and I find myself sometimes abandoning tricks too quickly before I've perfected them.

Also, is it recommended to begin by learning other people's routines and then fitting them to your own style, or learning basic sleights and developing your own routine? How do you think you learn the most? I'm starting magic a little later than most magicians I think, and am trying to focus my learning for maximum impact.

Thanks,
Miranda
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 07/25/01 11:11 PM

Each person approaches magic differently because each person is attracted to it for different reasons.
It's also very important to ENJOY the tricks you are going to do. You'll have to do them thousands of times in your life, so you'd better really like them!
That said, pick the type of magic you like to perform. Some people really like mentalism, and so they perform mentalism. I happen to really like difficult card tricks. Books like the new one by Simon Aronson might be great for many people, but to me it is not the least bit interesting. I don't want to do tricks that involve calculation or memorization. I greatly enjoy doing difficult sleight of hand when performing magic. That decision leads me to certain types of tricks.
Think about what you have seen magicians do that you think you'd enjoy doing. Then, think about whether they fit your performing persona, and how you might alter them so they do fit.
There's absolutely nothing wrong with copying another perfomer as a way of learning. It is a natural step in the evolution of all performers. :)
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Postby Guest » 07/26/01 02:05 AM

Just thought I'd weigh in on the "do someone elses" vs "create your own" routine issue. I had a long debate about this with Whit Haydn, and after disagreeing with him in print elsewhere, I have to confess that I have been won over to his point of view.

When you are getting started- learn someone else's published routine. Not only do you know what it is supposed to look like when you do it right, it has all the "bits" and jokes already built in. When you are performing it, you can then make little changes to make it fit your personality. That is when you will discover what about the way it is put together makes the routine work. There is probably a reason the magician tells a joke at a certain point, or makes a gesture. You may not know why until you are performing the routine regularly.

Take advantage of the work other people have done and published! Learn from their experience. You don't have to reinvent everything. :)

And about picking material- I tend to perform what I like to watch. Think about what pieces you have seen that you like, and why you like them. That always helps me pick material.

Best wishes,

-Strompf-
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Postby Rafael Benatar » 07/26/01 05:04 PM

Yeah, knowing the whys is very important. If you see a trick you like and learn it, fine. But if you strive to learn why something works, why is it impressive, why something makes someone laugh, why does it fool them, and why is it done the way it's done, then you should be able to apply that knowledge to other material and prove to yourself that you have learned something substantial.
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Postby Guest » 07/31/01 03:46 PM

This is really tough for a beginner to consider but...decide where it is you want to go.

Is magic going to be a studied pursuit or an entertainment for you? Both are fine if done with respect for what they are.

Look at other pursuits you have undertaken. Do you cook, play music, sing, play a sport, etc....

Do you get the most reward from copying others, or do you make up your own recipies, songs, etc...? The answer may provide you invaluable insight into how to learn.

I find that too many creative people get trapped in recipies. This restrains them from realizing their full potential as artists.

Tom Cutts

PS A more complete (lengthy) reply was sent directly to Miranda.
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Postby Guest » 07/31/01 04:42 PM

For what it is worth, I started out approximately 10 years ago (in my mid 20's) and I bought every prop, trick deck and trick coin I could afford. I always liked card magic and eventually I was convinced to buy "Royal Road to Card Magic". A month later, I saw Jack Birnman at John Bannon's lecture and I was hooked on cards. I focused on cards from that day on.

I selected card magic because I personally like cards above everything else. Find what you like to perform and take it from there.
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Postby Guest » 09/01/01 12:52 PM

I agree with Richard and Strompf. Do someone elses as a way of learning, but start working on your own as time goes on. There is one exception to this. I've seen Mike Close perform Tom Mullica's Cards Across. He uses a lot of patter ideas from Tom's, but has interjected a lot of himself into the routine. I have one similar to that. I do Robert Harbin's Card in the Bottle, and use Martin Lewis' basic routine idea, which he did give me permission to use, but redid the whole thing to fit me better. I don't think there is anything wrong with using someone else's presentational idea if it fits your personality, as long as you give them credit (among other magicians), and don't perform it word for word like they do.
Any feedback on that?
Rick
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Postby Brian Marks » 09/01/01 02:24 PM

I agree in using certain presentational styles provided 1. Its what makes the routine work and 2. THat you put your self into the presentation.

I dont believe every trick requires complete originality in what you say. Most presentaions just announce whats going to happen or what just happened anyway.
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