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Finding a mentor

Posted: August 13th, 2018, 11:08 am
by Jason Ladanye
Here are my thoughts on finding a mentor. What are your thoughts?

https://www.cardmagicbyjason.com/finding-a-mentor/

Re: Finding a mentor

Posted: August 13th, 2018, 3:19 pm
by performer
I never had a mentor. In fact I never met a single magician for the first two years of my studies. And I am very grateful for it. I am not saying anyone else should follow this philosophy but it worked out very well indeed for me. In fact I thank God every day for it.

In fact if you wish to go this route you had better be very careful indeed as to who your mentor is otherwise you are liable to pick up all their bad habits and faulty philosophy. The blind leading the blind.

If you are going to go this route you had better be very selective indeed.

Re: Finding a mentor

Posted: August 13th, 2018, 4:32 pm
by performer
I will qualify my post above by saying that I think a mentor would have been very useful to me in other areas. But not for learning magic. Much better off without in my case. I do recognise that for others it might be a good thing.

Re: Finding a mentor

Posted: August 13th, 2018, 4:39 pm
by Brad Henderson
the danger of finding a mentor is you become such a clone of theirs that it becomes the only thing people know you for.

Re: Finding a mentor

Posted: August 13th, 2018, 9:07 pm
by performer
Brad Henderson wrote:the danger of finding a mentor is you become such a clone of theirs that it becomes the only thing people know you for.


But wouldn't your audiences have to know who your mentor is for that to happen? If you are performing for laymen I don't think it would be a problem. For other magicians then yes. But I do agree that it is better to find your own style as soon as possible. Emulate the mentor for a while at the beginning but as soon as possible go your own way and develop your own ideas. Build on the mentor's teaching and discard some of his ideas which you intuitively feel do not suit you. What is good for one person is not necessarily good for another.

I suppose all my "mentors" were all the astute people that wrote all those books. I took in what they said and followed what they said to the letter. Then later as I became more experienced I began to question some of what they said. It may have been right for them but not right for me. However, if I felt comfortable with at least 75% of what they taught I was happy enough. Alas, I would find other respected texts and couldn't relate to them at all. I found a lot of it twaddle so I simply abandoned the tome. I just didn't and still don't have the time or inclination to sort the wheat from the chaff. If I read a new book I had better agree with most of it straight away otherwise I will lose interest very rapidly.

Re: Finding a mentor

Posted: August 13th, 2018, 11:34 pm
by Brad Henderson
the audience of the OP is magicians. and among magicians what i say remains true, especially in this case

Re: Finding a mentor

Posted: August 14th, 2018, 12:33 am
by performer
Oh, I didn't know that! If this is indeed the case I recommend that he learns to work for laymen as soon as he gets the chance. A completely different approach and more important mentality is required when working for laymen.

However, I have read his mentor's book, "Strong Magic" and although I tried hard not to like it I have to admit that it was an excellent book with a lot of good thinking and intelligent observations. I have heard that the book was panned badly but am not sure why. I thought it was pretty good and I would be the first person to proclaim it was crap if I thought it was. But I didn't so I couldn't. If this is the sort of advice he was getting I don't think he can go wrong.

There were indeed a couple of things that didn't ring quite right to me but overall I thought it was an excellent book. Maybe I am going soft in my old age.

Re: Finding a mentor

Posted: August 14th, 2018, 7:52 am
by Edward Pungot
Aren't we all compilations of our various mentors? Magical and non-magical?

I think it's safe to say that anyone who is reading this--even someone far remote into the future--will have a little bit of Vernon in them.

Unless another asteroid wipes out all the magicians, I don't think we can ever exist in a vacuum.

Books have the advantage of being a lot cheaper and the mentor can be long gone while the thoughts remain.

Re: Finding a mentor

Posted: August 14th, 2018, 7:59 am
by erdnasephile
Edward Pungot wrote:Aren't we all compilations of our various mentors? Magical and non-magical?

I think it's safe to say that anyone who is reading this--even someone far remote into the future--will have a little bit of Vernon in them.

Unless another asteroid wipes out all the magicians, I don't think we can ever exist in a vacuum.

Books have the advantage of being a lot cheaper and the mentor can be long gone while the thoughts remain.


Fair point, but as much as I love the written word, it cannot react to you, nor tailor itself to teach you what you in particular need to know at exactly the right time, in exactly the right way.

I'm also convinced there are some skills that cannot be taught adequately except in person (cf. Ken Krenzel's thoughts on learning the pass in his Videonics videos).

Re: Finding a mentor

Posted: August 14th, 2018, 8:54 am
by performer
Somehow I managed without being taught in person. I don't think I have ever learned a trick in person from another magician. I haven't the patience or attention span. With a book I can take my time. I rarely watch videos as I find them an awful way to learn. I will on occasion see something a magician is doing and learn from that but I never ask him to teach it to me. I just can't be bothered. An odd bit of advice I might take from someone but never technical advice or how to do an actual trick.

Sure, you can manage from personal tuition. But it is not imperative. I know I never did--it just wasn't necessary. And somehow I think it worked out better.

Re: Finding a mentor

Posted: August 14th, 2018, 8:56 pm
by Jonathan Townsend
Edward Pungot wrote:I think it's safe to say that anyone who is reading this--even someone far remote into the future--will have a little bit of Vernon in them.

That will seek out the finest resources... and assemble what works... that bit, right? :)

Re: Finding a mentor

Posted: August 15th, 2018, 8:01 am
by Edward Pungot
It's just the "family romance" syndrome. I like I'm sure many others have, look at these old magicians as father and grandfather figures. What we may have lacked in the real world we made up for in the magic world. And I like to think that foreign exchange was therapeutic for me.

Re: Finding a mentor

Posted: August 15th, 2018, 3:21 pm
by Q. Kumber
I think people may be confusing mentors with teachers. Two different things, though they may sometimes overlap.

Re: Finding a mentor

Posted: August 15th, 2018, 6:13 pm
by performer
Over the years I have had quite a few people thrust the title of "mentor" upon me whether I want them to or not. I find it slightly embarrassing since it is not intentional on my part.. They attach themselves to me and learn by osmosis. However, I never try to mentor or teach anyone anything. They seem to just help themselves.
Good luck to them I suppose. No skin off my nose.

Re: Finding a mentor

Posted: August 15th, 2018, 10:21 pm
by erdnasephile
While I am glad there are those who can develop to the fullest all on their own, I believe a mentor can be very helpful.

The analogy is not exact, but imagine if you were going to try to be a medical professional by just reading about surgery, anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, etc.

You might eventually become a half way decent healthcare provider by trial and error, as you certainly can learn a lot from your failures. However, a whole lot of patients are probably going to pay the price for your edification.

Therefore, IMHO one of the primary functions of a mentor/teacher is to help flatten the learning curve by steering you towards the correct path/books/effects/practice habits, etc., as well as warning you of the rabbit holes to avoid. They help you develop personal discernment and make you ask questions you otherwise would not have. This can certainly help most of us grow faster and better that we would have otherwise, provided the mentorship relationship is used properly (i.e., as a guide, not an idol).

While this is great for beginners, even when you've been around for a while, having an expert give you a nudge to help solve a magic problem you've been stuck on for years, is an amazing experience. This recently happened to me, and being unstuck is liberating!

Still, as in most things, it's horses for courses in this area.

Re: Finding a mentor

Posted: August 15th, 2018, 11:24 pm
by performer
The trouble with a mentor is that you are putting all your eggs in the one basket and if that basket is a bit iffy as most of them seem to be you can end up worse off than when you started. Not that I am cynical of course...............

In other words if you are going to go that route then choose carefully. You don't want the blind leading the blind.

Re: Finding a mentor

Posted: August 16th, 2018, 1:01 am
by Bill Duncan
performer wrote:However, I have read his mentor's book, "Strong Magic" and although I tried hard not to like it I have to admit that it was an excellent book with a lot of good thinking and intelligent observations. I have heard that the book was panned badly but am not sure why. I thought it was pretty good and I would be the first person to proclaim it was crap if I thought it was. But I didn't so I couldn't. If this is the sort of advice he was getting I don't think he can go wrong.

So you have read a book that's less than 40 years old. May I recommend Darwin's follow up Designing Miracles? I liked it even better than Strong Magic.

I think it might be worthwhile to distinguish between a mentor, and a teacher. I was fortunate to be mentored by Steve Dobson. He pointed me in the right directions, shared the Ramsay material with me, and showed me some things without telling me how or where I could obtain the information. He never tried to teach me anything except to respect the material.

Re: Finding a mentor

Posted: August 16th, 2018, 5:39 am
by performer
My cut off point is around 60 years rather than 40. However, i have indeed cursorily read many books written more recently. The trouble is that they are mostly full of crap so I don't take them too seriously. I cringe at some of the opinions expressed since in my infinite wisdom I KNOW they are wrong. And I never read the tricks since I have too many as it is.

I think Strong Magic is an exception although I do see a few flaws in the thinking but overall it is a pretty good book. As for Designing Miracles I did not read it properly but on cursory inspection couldn't get excited over it. I think I read something that although it sounded really good in print I knew to be wrong in practice. Still, I will reserve judgement until I read it properly which I probably never will.

Re: Finding a mentor

Posted: August 16th, 2018, 10:06 am
by JustinM
Mark,

Other than Strong Magic, which other books on magic theory would you recommend?

Re: Finding a mentor

Posted: August 16th, 2018, 12:02 pm
by fausstroll
I have learned a lot from :
- Magic of Ascanio book Vol. 1 The Structural Conception of Magic, by Arturo Ascanio
- Juan Tamariz Books (All)
- The books of Wonder, by Tomy Wonder
- Al Schneider Magic, by Al Schneider

Re: Finding a mentor

Posted: August 16th, 2018, 3:02 pm
by Jason Ladanye
I agree. The Ascanio and Tamariz books have taught me quite a bit as well. I'm exited to finally meet Tamariz at Magi-fest next year. We are both performing along with a bunch of other amazing performers. ( https://www.magifest.org )

Someone else here mentioned Designing Miracles. That is a great book to pair with Strong Magic. I highly recommend picking up both books if you're serious about improving your magic.

Re: Finding a mentor

Posted: August 17th, 2018, 10:00 pm
by MagicbyAlfred
I still have so much to learn, but I don't think I would have gotten as far as I have in magic without having the great fortune to find an incredible mentor who helped me beyond my wildest dreams. That being said, I now have many, many mentors, who are my best teachers - the laymen for whom I perform.

Re: Finding a mentor

Posted: August 20th, 2018, 7:36 pm
by performer
JustinM wrote:Mark,

Other than Strong Magic, which other books on magic theory would you recommend?


Above all, the Presentation section in Expert Card Technique. It has been like gold to me particularly the first few pages.

Re: Finding a mentor

Posted: August 20th, 2018, 8:33 pm
by JustinM
performer wrote:
JustinM wrote:Mark,

Other than Strong Magic, which other books on magic theory would you recommend?


Above all, the Presentation section in Expert Card Technique. It has been like gold to me particularly the first few pages.



I remember you mentioning that on another forum before. multiple times... Thanks for refreshing my memory!

Re: Finding a mentor

Posted: August 21st, 2018, 10:42 am
by performer
It is the most important part of the book but nobody ever seems to mention it except me! Mind you there have been other snippets of valuable advice dotted across other books----just odd paragraphs here and there----which I have found very useful. Or at least resonated with me. I see so many books full of theoretical tosh that I just can't relate to. I suppose I learned one way when I was young, found it valuable and stuck to that. Alan Alan once accused me of having "fixed opinions". He was of course correct but I have discovered that they are damned good fixed opinions learned through hard experience. Results have shown how effective they are.

Re: Finding a mentor

Posted: August 21st, 2018, 8:55 pm
by performer
Come to think of it I personally believe the most important sentence (or was it two sentences?) ever written on magic theory are contained in that presentation section of Expert Card Technique. I have always tried to live up to it. When I have time and energy I will reproduce it. It is such a shame to see it hidden away in obscurity since I believe it is the most important advice a magician can follow.