• What I’m currently learning and how I’m practicing it

  • June 29, 2020

  • If there is one thing I have learnt as I teach my students magic, it’s that I don’t know nearly enough. Now I probably shouldn’t be bashing my own intelligence and abilities, but the one thing I’m learning about teaching is how hard it is to teach the subtleties of magic right out of the gate. The best method I’ve found so far is to teach as much information as possible and see what sticks.

    How we learn, or at least how I was taught

    I’ve adopted a method similar to the one we all experienced in school when we were growing up. Admittedly it used to annoy me as a student, and almost more-so now that I’m doing it myself. Hopefully, you remember what I’m talking about, but whenever I finished a “year” at school and would go into the new year, ready to increase my knowledge base on that subject, the first lesson was inevitably the teacher coming out and saying, “forget everything you learnt last year, it was all wrong.”

    Infuriating, but now on the other side of it, I can see why. You can’t go into full detail straight from the outset, and it’s too much information. So, for my students benefit, I have had to go and learn, or re-learn all those things I never wanted or needed in my act for one reason or another. And the one thing I’m working on at the moment is something that too many of my students want to learn for me to ignore it any longer.

    Firing a card into the air

    Making a card fly through the air is one of those moves that even I must admit, has more appeal than I initially thought. I always wanted to be the smooth and controlled card magician, appearing almost regal, and this move just never fit into that style for me. Now though, the more I look at other magicians performing it, it is one of those moves that is incredibly simple, but by no means easy, and can be learned quite quickly, but is more than worth the effort required.

    I’m lazy and reluctant to work too hard on things that I don’t think provide a decent payout for the necessary input. And having had another look at this move, I was wrong. I’ve only been working on it a short while and having some good results. By looking at other magicians who perform it in their routines, it is a big clear production of a card, that involves lots of movement, draws the eye, and be quite a showstopper when handled correctly.

    So, I have committed to learning it, so I can teach it to my students, and integrate it into some of my effects that could use a little dressing up.

    How I practice

    I used to always make the mistake of endlessly repeating my practice, running through the motion and just relentlessly repeating the correct moves. This is a form of training, and a great way to get started. But to really know a move, to be able to perform it accurately every time, requires deliberate practice.

    So having gone through the necessary steps enough times to get the gist of the move, to understand what needs to be where and how everything works together, I can move to the next stage.

    Now the key is to slow things right down, look at each individual motion. What is causing the card to fly out of my hand at a funny angle? What is causing some cards to fall out of my hand at the back of the pack? Should I be using my fingertip or my fingernail? Can I do it without looking?

    All of these questions have to be asked, and many more that arise in the process of trying out different variations. These questions may well be different for you, and that is a good thing as it means you are practising correctly and paying attention to what is in front of you rather than just relying on someone else’s work to get the job done. We are all different, and what gets me over the finish line, will not be the same for you.

    When do I practice?

    As I mentioned, I used to endlessly repeat my practice, doing it over and over again for hours at a time. Not anymore. I practice for no more than twenty minutes at a time and then stop. But, I will do that almost every hour or so. The one thing I have learnt when it comes to learning, is doing a little bit and doing it often, is far more effective at getting the information or muscle memory to be retained.

    There is also something to be said from exhausting your muscles first and then doing the exercises to ingrain the movements you want, and I highly recommend that. But once your form starts to slip, and you can no longer do the moves the “right way” it is time to stop.

    Remember, you’re only human.

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