Practice routines (or not)

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.

Practice routines (or not)

Postby Guest » November 5th, 2001, 6:18 am

I'm directing this to the card men really, as I do cards only.

I've never had a regimented routine to practising. Some days I wouldn't touch a deck, others I might do 6 hours straight with no breaks. Recently, I've been trying to go through my entire repertoire in each session. Very recently though my practice levels have dropped off drastically. I'm practising less now than I have for years so I know I need to change something. That's why I would like to know how everybody handles practising.

How long do you practice? How often? Do you go through your routine? Do you use any aids like video cameras or mirrors? Do you practice things while watching TV or lock yourself away in darkened room?(!!) These are the kind of questions I would like to hear your answers to but I just want to know your habits really.

I would really appreciate any input into this as I need to change my current ways pronto and I need all the ideas I can get.


Pete McCabe
Posts: 2200
Joined: January 18th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Simi Valley, CA

Re: Practice routines (or not)

Postby Pete McCabe » November 5th, 2001, 1:43 pm

I'm wondering if by "practising" you mean working on sleights, moves, etc. as opposed to "rehearsing" in which you perform each trick exactly -- with full script, blocking, movement, costume, etc. -- as you would in performance.

I have met many, many magicians who clearly do practise enough but even more clearly don't rehearse enough. I don't think I've ever seen the reverse.

I am not assuming that you are in either of these groups, but if you are dissatisfied with your current regiment, you may wish to try spending more time rehearsing and less time practising.


Re: Practice routines (or not)

Postby Guest » November 5th, 2001, 1:56 pm

Ok, for clarification. By "practising", I mean the whole deal. How long do you spend with the cards? (not performing)

I wanna know people's practice routines and habits. I'm not looking for straight advice as such, more an insight into how other people operate.

I can't make it any clearer than that.

[ November 05, 2001: Message edited by: Kris ]


Re: Practice routines (or not)

Postby Guest » November 5th, 2001, 3:28 pm

Yes. you could make it a lot clearer, so, props to Pete.

As important as total time in contact with a deck is the break down of rehearsal vs practice vs idle exercise.

I used to spend an hour a day just doing one handed flourishes. It is absurd and very contrary to my performing style, I don't do flashy card stuff for the public. If, however, I told you that hour was commute time and the cards were able to keep me from going bonkers in stop and go traffic, then it might make sense as well as have some bearing.

So, how you spend your six hours is equal if not more important than the volume of time spent.

And if you've read this far I might as well give you something you can use. Decide on an amount of time YOU will stick to and a schedule you will stick to. Consistency is more important than quantity. You might only find an hour every night. You might find two hours four nights a week. What ever it is, stick to it!

I am chaotic and work on different projects throughout the day. I have little schedule except the time spent in traffic. I like to run routines cold many times a day so whenever I have the time to do so I launch into a routine. The unstructured form is made up for by the consistency throughout the day.

I also find that the routine is constantly in the back of mind that way, always being worked on.

I guess that means don't follow my example :p


Tom Cutts


Re: Practice routines (or not)

Postby walkinoats » November 6th, 2001, 5:05 am

I practice daily. Whenever I get the chance. Usually a couple hours a day. I either pracice slights or routines. I enjoy working with the cards daily and watching the stress of the day melt away.


Re: Practice routines (or not)

Postby Guest » November 6th, 2001, 5:34 am

I went through a spell when i was seventeen,eighteen where i was easily practicing 7-8 hours a day,it was an obsession.Im nineteen now nearly twenty i still practice everyday alot but not quite as much,,,,it ruins your social life!

I to suffer from sitting in front of the tv thinking i must learn this move,but end up doing idle flourishes without concentration.

My biggest piece of advice,, though you all know this,,is to read carefully about the move(or watch), then when youve studied it only then begin practicing it.To many times ive read a move and began to practice it,then re-read it and found out i was doing it wrong and then its hard to get rid of bad habbits.


Re: Practice routines (or not)

Postby Guest » November 6th, 2001, 6:22 am

To Pete & Tom:
Please don't take offence to what I'm about to say because the last thing I want is a hostile situation, however, I'm sorry if I bothered you by asking what I thought was a straight forward question about your habits. Obviously, we continually misunderstand each other, I wasn't looking for advice of any form, I don't understand why you feel obliged to give it, maybe I really didn't make myself clear enough. It's good advice, I feel it's just "off topic" if you like.

Anyway, thanks to the other 2 for their replies. I merely thought that hearing how people prepare, practice, rehearse, discipline, etc. would be interesting. Obviously, nobody wants to play with me. :p

Anyway, lets forget it because it's not worth people getting upset about.

Larry Horowitz
Posts: 431
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: L.A.

Re: Practice routines (or not)

Postby Larry Horowitz » November 6th, 2001, 11:58 am

Obviously, what you want is exact responses to your exact questions. As I have deck in my hands every day, I can answer.

I practise every day. The length depends on my mood and goal for the session. Sometimes I go through the routines, sometimes it's just moves. I use mirrors. I practise while watching T.V. and alone late at night in a quiet room. I practise in the car and at the movies. I practise the pass while strolling down the aisles in the book store or waiting for an elevator.
To avoid my sessions becoming boring or static, I constantly practise moves and routines which I never use in performance. It's a sort of cross training to keep my interests up and all my muscles working and in tune. Not to mention a vast array of weapons that can be called upon to solve a new problem. I hope this answers what you really wanted. Although you should remember, that how people practise is dependent on how they see practise.


Re: Practice routines (or not)

Postby Guest » November 6th, 2001, 2:15 pm

Thanks Larry. I used to think that practising moves you don't use was ok but not the best way to spend "practice time" but I've changed my opinion after reading your point of view, I think you're right. I also think that you are definitely correct in your final sentence. Much appreciated.


Re: Practice routines (or not)

Postby Guest » November 6th, 2001, 4:40 pm

Originally posted by Kris:

I would really appreciate any input into this as I need to change my current ways pronto and I need all the ideas I can get.

I would surmise from the above statement that you were open to advice. First thing you did was reject the first ideas because they were not what you wanted to hear. I wish you had said you just wanted to play before I took time trying to help you.

How's this: I practice two hours a day. :p How much advice, help, ideas did you get from that? OK so I'm being bombastic. You can't tell but I'm standing on my desk. :eek:

Let me lay it out for you. You need to rethink your approach of practice being something done in volume, rather than focused intent. That is the point I made and I believe what Pete was trying to tell you.

Efficiency in practice, getting the most return on your time, seemed to be your intent in posting. Did you just want people to tell you they practice longer, or they listen to ABBA when practicing, or... OK, not ABBA how about Captain and Toniel (I'm proud I can't spell that). :cool:

Learning to effectively and efficiently do something is key to excelling in it. So, do you just want to play or do you want to learn to perform magic?

Your choice, just let us know up front if you're just playing around. It will make the answers you get more concise.

I'm jumping off my desk now. No harm no foul.

Thud... :cool:

Tom Cutts


Re: Practice routines (or not)

Postby Guest » November 7th, 2001, 6:03 am

Oh well, we've got to exactly were I didn't want to get to. This thread has had very little to do with cards yet because it's just turned into pedantic bickering.

Tom, I think you are trying to make your point while still being innoffensive and nice about it which I respect, I also accept your point. So as I said earlier, let's forget the bickering part and close this one. I respect you. No more please.

PS: And just for the record, (because I felt patronised, even though I believe it was inadvertent) I'm 23 and I've done cards for 13 years so I'm not playing around when it comes to cards, in fact, it's the extrene opposite. I "learned to perform magic" quite some time ago.

PPS. Please don't feel obliged to come back at me with something because of what I just said, I wasn't attacking you or trying to do anything negative, just giving you a perspective.

PPPS. No more posts on this one for Christ's sake. My nerves can't take it.


Oops!! I forgot to address your query. When I said I wanted input, I meant I wanted you to share your preparation habits with me. The advice is a lovely thought but I think that these kind of things have to be decided independantly to ensure that they'll work. Which is why I hoped to glean some info by hearing about how people practice, an insight which is seldom attainable.

[ November 07, 2001: Message edited by: Kris ]


Re: Practice routines (or not)

Postby Guest » November 8th, 2001, 12:59 am

No problem Kris,

Just find it odd; like asking "How long does every body take to make a cake?" without caring what kind of cake, size, oven, pan, etc.

To each...


Jim Morton
Posts: 178
Joined: February 7th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: San Francisco

Re: Practice routines (or not)

Postby Jim Morton » November 8th, 2001, 10:27 am

I spend at least one hour everyday practicing certain sleights (primarily false deals), and card tricks. When I'm doing something mindless, like watching TV, I'll practice pinky counts and coin palming. I too spend a certain amount of time practicing flourishy stuff that I don't ever plan to use in performance. Just for the fun of it.

Pete McCabe
Posts: 2200
Joined: January 18th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Simi Valley, CA

Re: Practice routines (or not)

Postby Pete McCabe » November 8th, 2001, 10:48 am


I hope this is more like what you were looking for.

One practice tip I've used successfully is to work on moves while taking a walk. It started when I was rehabbing my knee after surgery, and I was walking a couple of miles every night.

So I started carrying along a deck and working on my top change, half pass, double turnover, spread cull, etc. I also did a lot of work on the striking vanish in this way.

One benefit that I hadn't expected is that I learned to do each of these moves with my feet in different positions. It's very easy to practice a move with your feet in the same position all the time, and then have trouble in performance if your feet are not in the same place (because you've had to turn to a spectator, etc.).

If you practice while walking, you can do the move with your feet in a variety of positions, eliminating this problem.

As a side bonus, taking a long walk each night is an extremely healthy thing to do.



Re: Practice routines (or not)

Postby Guest » November 10th, 2001, 8:42 am

Just thought I would chime in here. I like to practice with a deck and half of cards(78 cards). I used to play sports in college and part of conditioning was using the "medicine ball" (an abnormally large and rather heavy leather bound ball) and in basketball we used an oversized ball(one that would just barely fit through the hoop). When I got into magic, which was after a career ending injury to my ankle, I thought that applying the same principles to my practice with magic I could increase my proficiency in the art. I also thought that in addition to using a "heavy deck" I should practice with a jumbo deck. Big mistake (no pun intended but clever don't you think? :p ) I couln't translate the moves the deck was just too big. For a while I used a bridge sized deck for performing but now I feel perfectly confident with poker size cards. Hope this helps Kris and I hope it is in context with what you are asking for.

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