Mystery Material – Practice
Welcome to this month’s mystery material
This month’s mystery is all about good practice for practicing.
This week we wrote about practice. Anybody who is in magic understand the necessity of practice. But often we just pick up the cards and flip some things around for a couple hours and feel like we’ve accomplished something.
We have compiled some tips and ideas from ourselves and other magicians along our path that we have found very helpful in talking about practice
We hope you like it:
When practicing, it’s so easy to revert to whispering your performance to yourself, or saying it in your mind but not out loud. Here’s why thats a problem:
Yes, it feels a little silly to be speaking to nobody, but thats the point! Emotions are a big help in this procedure. For all of our lives we’ve been practicing speaking out loud to other people and expressing thoughts and ideas clearly. When you speak out loud you listen to yourself to make sure you don’t sound stupid. When you speak to yourself under your breath, you don’t listen for that.
If you are trying to make a premise that your audience can follow clearly, you ought to be speaking when you practice. Not whispering, or mumbling, but speaking and performing like you usually would.
If you cared enough about practicing to set aside a chunk of time, go to an isolated area, and commit to speaking out loud, you might as well record it!
Audio or video?
While there’s obviously a case for video recording which we will get to, I want to point out why I (Jonah) like audio better.
- It’s really easy – With video recording for the angle of the camera to be relevant you usually need a tripod of some sort, or jimmy some weird solution with books and other nearby objects to get an angle that resembles one real people will look at you from. With audio, I’m willing to bet everybody who is reading this has a smart phone with an audio recorder that can be turned on in a moments notice. If not you can buy one for like $10.
- Angles just aren’t that important – Okay I lied, they are important, but unless you’re practicing for Instagram you have to worry about more than one angle. which makes the single eye of the camera not entirely a good help.
- We perform for people, not cameras – When we perform for a camera we automatically perform to the camera. But, when there’s a phone sitting on the table recording the audio we speak to the room, and not the phone. I think we as magicians need to practice more speaking to the room, and projecting, and being open with our movement, rather than closing off for a camera.
Camera or mirror?
Again here is some advice that might be controversial (as far as magic practicing theory controversy could be) but I think practicing in front of a mirror is something that should be done for the sake of a move, and not a performance.
The problem is we need to be present mentally to look at ourselves in the mirror. It’s hard enough to come up with new interesting presentations, the added distraction of watching yourself while you do it makes it even more challenging. With a camera you get to offload the responsibility of watching yourself until after you’ve performed, and you can focus on performing for yourself.
Ps. math and science lovers. When you perform for a mirror you see the length of you to the mirror and then the reflection of that, which means you see it as 2x as far away. So when you perform for spectators you need to perform 1/2 the distance that was between you and the mirror, to have the same effect as what you were seeing.
Practice to classical (or other instrumental) music
This is incredible advice that I have been given by Miguel Angel Gea and Eric Jones that has been incredibly helpful. Practice to classical music. Let me be clear, this doesn’t mean that the performance itself is to music, but just the practicing.
What ends up happening is like a well edited promo video, or an awesome dance, the major magical moments of the performance are tied to the pacing of certain climaxes of the music. It is a mental forcing to think more about pacing in an effect.
Who knows, maybe you will want to perform it to music after you have done the routine so many times.
If you aren’t convinced watch one of them perform (I don’t care if you don’t speak Spanish for Miguel), and pay close attention to their choreography.
Chat with other Artists
Magic has so much in common with other art forms. Theatre, dance, art, storytelling, scrapbooking, wearable art, design, photography, videography, sales, teaching, directing, songwriting, and anything else I didn’t mention.
For me, I share my utmost philosophical and practical issues about magic with other artists. I seek them out. Many of the things that we have to figure out in our arts are similar. So many of my toughest magic problems have been solved other artists. I promise they will inspire you to do bigger and better things with you magic.
Make a deck of tricks
Here is an idea that we first saw from our friend Jason Dean, but originally is from Robert Giobbi.
Take an old pack of cards, and on each card write the name of a trick, and where you found it (book, page #) incase you forget the details. By the time you have filled out 52 or if you want to write on both sides 52 x 2 (104), there is a ton you can do with them.
You can use them to try to create or experiment with a new routine. Cut it 3 times, and now you are staring at 3 tricks. The first is your intro, the second is your middle trick, and the last is your closer. Now you have some fun creative experimenting to do.
It’s also just a great way to catalogue effects that you can do, you can cut to random tricks, and try to test your memory as well.
Anything that will help spice up your creativity in practice sessions will eventually help with your magic.
Hope some of these practicing tips were helpful!