How to open show for 10-12 yr olds?

All beginners in magic should address their questions here.

Postby Guest » 08/30/06 08:19 AM

Most of the info I read about opening a show (birthday party type) for kids seems to fit better for young kids - all the screaming and silly nonsense ("It's on the floor!" "It's on the door?").

In my experiences with older kids (10 to 12 years old, about 5th / 6th grade), they will give you *naked nothing!*in terms of respect or attention if you don't connect with them right out of the chute. Needless to say, I haven't done very well at this, or I wouldn't be asking.

What are some recommendations for a warm-up or greeting and first trick that will grab a party room full of these kids and make it an enjoyable event (rather than merely memorable!)?

Ed
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Postby Guest » 08/30/06 09:36 AM

Well when I get a request for this age group, I don't do magic -- this is the time when many kids are too cool for magic. I do a mentalism show for this age group. I tie in some Harry Potter stuff too. It' goes over well.

John R
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Postby Guest » 08/30/06 10:05 AM

Originally posted by Brown Hornet:
Well when I get a request for this age group, I don't do magic -- this is the time when many kids are too cool for magic. I do a mentalism show for this age group. I tie in some Harry Potter stuff too. It' goes over well.

John R
Thanks for responding, John. I can see that - then they're not screaming out about the fake thumb and trick cards and stuff. I've got a couple of book tests and some card stuff where I don't touch the cards, so I can pretty much hold them on that (at least it's worked in the past).

That is, I can hold them *IF* I can get them. But when they have decided right from the start that I'm not worth paying attention to, I have difficutly changing their minds.

So what do you do in the first minute or two that pulls them into your presentation?

Ed
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Postby Mark Collier » 08/30/06 10:17 AM

I have found the $100 Bill Switch gets their attention. They might not respect me but they respect the $100. ;)
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Postby Guest » 08/31/06 07:32 AM

It was about 10 years ago - I had a magician come for my son's 12th birthday. First live magic show I'd ever seen! The guy was fantastic - walked in, opened his briefcase, and just started going!

What I remember is that he had no problem in a room full of 12-year-olds. What I also remember is the first trick he did was for my wife and I (Ring Flight with her wedding ring - totally killed us!). He didn't have any problem with the kids after that.

Granted the guy was excellent - much better than I hope to be in 3 months or 3 years! But I wonder how much of his "kid control" came from the fact that he wow-ed the parents first? Could this be a good technique as an opener?

Ed
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Postby Jeff Haas » 08/31/06 10:52 AM

He did material you'd do for adults, not "kiddie" material. The typical kidshow repertoire works best for kids from 4 to 6. Older than that and they've grown out of the phase where they find "the adult who screws up" entertaining. That's why you get them looking at you like that - they feel insulted, you're playing for an audience younger than them.

So Ring Flite, the bill change, card tricks where you obviously have skill (flourishes help establish this) and so on are the right kinds of choices. Material should be simple and direct - no long exposition or abstraction. Gambling material, for example, is a bit over their heads, but producing the four aces works.

Also, your attitude needs to be appropriate...again, treat them like adults but don't necessarily expect them to pick up on all the subtle things you'd expect adults to get (if you do that sort of dialog.)

If you have a trick that is somehow transparent in method, you will quickly find out. They're actually doing you a favor...if they tell you what you're doing as soon as you've finished it, drop the trick forever.

And it turns out that demoing and giving away Svengali decks KILLS for this age group. Show them a routine (Andy Nyman's is the best!) and then hand out the decks. Then spend a few mins walking through how they work and how to do a basic trick. Close with that, you can't top it.

Jeff
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Postby Guest » 08/31/06 10:56 AM

If you are looking for a way to grab this age group, make sure you think about your look. This is not the time for the goofy looking ties and the colorful run rabitt run props...if they see this stuff you are in for an up hill battle. I find that if I think of this group as young adults instead of older children, the show goes much better. Also, while wowing the parents can help...if you don't get the kids involved right away you will lose them, not to mention it is their event, your best bet would be to wow both groups at once.

As to what you can use as an opener - Believe it or not I use the invisible deck to start out my show, my presentation of this trick gets the whole group involved and does wow both groups. From there on out I do mostly mentalism type tricks that make it seem like they are doing the magic, which helps deflect the "I am cool and will yell out how it's done" comments.

Also for a good understanding of how each age group reacts to tricks and what type of magic will play well to each I suggest that you get "Seriously Silly" it really breaks down each group of children so you can better understand what you are working with.
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Postby Guest » 08/31/06 11:40 AM

Thanks for the input, Brian.

If you are looking for a way to grab this age group, make sure you think about your look. This is not the time for the goofy looking ties and the colorful run rabitt run props...if they see this stuff you are in for an up hill battle.
Yeah - I used to wear a big huge goofy hat and bow tie. Suddenly it dawned on me that I looked like a clown to this age group (no makeup or other stuff, though), and they weren't going to give me anything but a hard time!

Also, while wowing the parents can help...if you don't get the kids involved right away you will lose them, not to mention it is their event, your best bet would be to wow both groups at once

As to what you can use as an opener - Believe it or not I use the invisible deck to start out my show, my presentation of this trick gets the whole group involved and does wow both groups.
Good thoughts! I have the Invisible Deck (it's buried somewhere!), but haven't worked much on a presentation other than following the instructions. It didn't seem like a "party"-type trick, so I put it aside. WOuld you be willing to share some tips on using it more effectively?

Also for a good understanding of how each age group reacts to tricks and what type of magic will play well to each I suggest that you get "Seriously Silly" it really breaks down each group of children so you can better understand what you are working with.
I've got that, and just re-read it cover to cover. It did have some good ideas. But most of the directions seemed to go towards dealing with the younger kids, except for maybe two sections dealing specifically with this age group.

Thanks again for all your help, Brian.

Ed
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Postby Guest » 08/31/06 11:57 AM

I appreciate the help, Jeff.

He did material you'd do for adults, not "kiddie" material. The typical kidshow repertoire works best for kids from 4 to 6. . . . That's why you get them looking at you like that - they feel insulted, you're playing for an audience younger than them.
Yeah - that's why I'm going back after about a year off and re-examining everything. My show was probably aimed at about 8 years old - couldn't keep the older ones interested, and had a 5-yr-old walk up in the middle of a routine and call me boring!

Material should be simple and direct - no long exposition or abstraction. . . . treat them like adults but don't necessarily expect them to pick up on all the subtle things you'd expect adults to get (if you do that sort of dialog.)
I'm thinking it might be good to run through my stuff and write down my dialog, then look it over for age-appropriate wordings. (I'm a writer on my day job, so I'll catch more if it's written than if I hear myself say it.)

And it turns out that demoing and giving away Svengali decks KILLS for this age group. Show them a routine (Andy Nyman's is the best!) and then hand out the decks. Then spend a few mins walking through how they work and how to do a basic trick. Close with that, you can't top it.
I hadn't thought of the Svengali, but I was thinking of opening with a simple signed card revelation pulled on the parent, then just before the closer teaching them the trick. (With that, I was also thinking of sending the parents out of the room - "to get the cake and ice cream ready" or such - so the kids have the secret and the parents don't. Give 'em a bit of a power trip?)

My closer was probably going to be Tag or (with parent's permission) In a Flash. How well do book tests go over?

Ed
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Postby Guest » 08/31/06 12:35 PM

That age group is really tough. They aren't children in their minds, but they aren't adults by a long shot. They are starting to discover things like the opposite sex, but are still shy about it.
The first thing you cannot do is talk down to them. Don't do balloon animals or hippity hop rabbits.
I start my "Young Adult" show with a short speech about myself and magic. It basically says "Hi, I'm a magician, you may not think magic is cool but let me show you something."
Then, like a previous poster I do the Bill Switch, with patter that leads up to "Any trick that that can do this can't be all bad, in fact it's pretty cool."
The rest of the show has some coin tricks, mentalism, card tricks and, you are not going to believe this, the Vanishing Bandana. (It's a great trick no matter what age you are.) I end with a hand chopper. (Kids those age like gross things.)
What's important about the show is not to embarrass anyone. Kids that age embarrass easily, so you can't say things like "And who here is your girlfriend" or say anything about their physical appearance (like how they dress.) I know this seems obvious but even saying something like "That's a nice dress" can be embarrassing to them.
But like anything it may take you a few shows before you get good. Don't give up. Remember, there aren't a lot of magicians who work that age group so if you can tap into that market you may be the only one in your area.

Hope it helps.

Gord
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Postby Guest » 08/31/06 12:49 PM

If you email me directly I will be more than happy to discuss my routine with you. magic@brianscottproductions.com
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