I wrote this post because I wanted to share some of my practice regiment. These are some of the steps I take in order to accomplish my goal when performing. I hope that you can take something out of this and apply it to your magic.
Magic is something that is more than just a hobby to me. It is a way of life. I constantly strive for perfection. I work constantly to improve, not just my technical skill but my performance as well. It takes much more than just practicing in front of a mirror.
When I first decide I’m going to practice something the first thing I do is make sure that I understand the details of what I’m doing. I read, re-read, or watch and re-watch and try to follow along.
Sometimes I get frustrated as we all do. At that point it’s time to stop and take a breather. Once you get frustrated it becomes hard to retain information because instead of paying attention to what you’re doing you feel like ripping apart your book or destroying your cards.
Don’t let the anger take control of you.
Take a step back and take your mind off of it. You’d be surprised how much you actually learned when you decide to go back to practicing.
Now that I’ve gotten the moves down it’s time to stop looking and practice again. When you first practice it’s ok to look at your hands. However when performing if you’re looking at your hands it’s not a good sign. It will tell your spectators that you’re doing something. If you have to look at your hands to do a move chances are that you don’t know it well enough.
Everything you do in your performance should be “automatic“. You shouldn’t have to think about your next action. So after I feel that I’ve gotten the “tech” side of the trick pretty much down, I begin to think about how I’m going to “deliver” the trick. What meaning am I going to put to the effect or vice versa. Just doing a trick is just doing a trick. I’m a professional magician and because of that I don’t just do tricks. I perform miracles. I want people to walk away with something they’ve never experienced before.
I NEVER want to hear the words “That was a nice trick!”
Now comes what I consider to be the most important part of practice. Practice performance. This is the part that I feel SO many magicians leave out. They go from practice in the private straight to the show! There’s no rehearsing or practicing or figuring out if it’s even good for a show.
I can always tell when a magician has really practiced and rehearsed his routine because he has more to say then “Ok so we put your card in the middle. And now it’s on top.”
To me the difference between a trick and routine is how “complete” it is. Is there purpose to what you are doing? Have you taken away possible solutions to the effect? How engaging is it?
There are countless effects that are beautiful to us, but are just too confusing to a lay person. Is this effect one of them?
In my professional set I do mentalism. Mentalism in practice is technically much easier than a lot of magic because there’s almost no slight of hand. The true art to mentalism is routining and scripting. However it is just as important to EVERY type of magic.
Just because you’ve gotten the trick down and you think it’s up to par doesn’t mean that it’s quite ready. This is the point that I take my practiced routines and do them for real people and use the experience to tweak the routine future. I try to pay attention to what the spectators are looking at and when to help me develop better misdirection and to see what if what I’m saying is helping to generate the reactions I’m looking for. It can take me up to 6 months before I decide to put a routine into my working set.
Don’t take shortcuts, don’t settle for anything but what you want. Being the best takes time.
Below are a few videos. Both of the same trick. One is a video of what I believe is a complete routine and one is not. Watch them both and tell me what you think. Also share your practicing tips.
This is Tommy Wonder who to this day has one of my favorite Ambitious Card Routines.
This is an ambitious card routine that need some work