Tyler Erickson joins Jonah this week to talk about working with a mentor, finding the positive, and what to consider when scripting. Alongside being an extremely skilled sleight of hand artist, Tyler is a magic coach who works to improve the approach magician’s take to assessing their own magic.
Tyler’s interest in magic started while he was watching Saturday morning cartoons and eating cereal with his friend as deep inside that cereal box was a trick based on the grandma’s necklace principle. Unimpressed with the trick, Tyler resumed watching TV, forgetting about the trick until that following Monday; his friend had gathered a crowd performing the trick, and it was then Tyler realized he wanted that type of attention and told his mom he was interested in magic.
Growing up in the swampland of Minnesota, Tyler depended on the inter-loan library system for his access to magic. Reading books like The Magic Handbook by Peter Eldin and 3/4 of the Greater Magic series, Tyler developed his knowledge and skills alone. He had an opportunity to show off what he learned to fellow magicians after about a year when he visited his first magic shop. While he admits the vanish he did was rather meh, the magicians were impressed that his first bit of coin magic involved putting the coin into Down’s palm. As he grew more aware of the magic community, he began to work with other skilled magicians who welcomed them into their world, sharing their own knowledge and libraries with him.
Working with a Mentor
A mentor is able to provide you with something that books, dvds or any other instructional text can’t provide you, Tyler explains, eyes on you. Material created by other people is created with the belief that the person buying is capable of performing exactly what it asks; the creator can’t take into account what you specifically are capable of. Whereas a mentor is able to see who you are and capitalize on the aspects that make you strong while pushing you in the directions you’re clearly passionate for. Alongside focusing on your interests, a good mentor will also help you recognize the aspects of your performance that are wrong so that you can begin to adjust and improve your performance.
Thinking with Context
At the end of the day, when you’re planning your performance it all comes down to context. Where are you performing? A stage performance in a theatre and sitting down at a coffee shop are two very different settings. What tone do you want? Who is the audience? What are the forces that are going to affect your trick overall? If you fail to acknowledge that different contexts call for different requirements in your performance, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Stories & Magic
When it comes to telling stories with your magic, you have to step back and ask yourself: Do I like telling stories? If the answer is no, that’s fine; we’re not all born storytellers and you can’t force yourself to take on a role you don’t want to play. By forcing themselves to include stories with their tricks, magicians often cover their magic or overload the audience with information, lessening the impact of the effect. At the end of the day, Tyler points out, we’re human beings and we need to let our passions guide us for, when we express the passion we have for our interests through our performance, that’s what the audience will find entertaining.
Practical Sleight of Hand
If you want to do strong sleight of hand magic you need to leave your ego at the door. Tyler explains that sleight of hand magic isn’t good if your sleights are seen; you don’t get points for trying hard material. He drives home the point that you should be looking for moves that are versatile, not angle sensitive, and are at your level. Some moves may be flashy and cool for Instagram, but if you’re terrified by the thought of someone viewing the sleight from the side, then it’s probably not the correct sleight to use. His primary advice, however is: Practice.
Practice. Practice. Practice.
You can’t always spend your time always reading books and watching videos. While these are fine to learn from, you won’t get anywhere with your magic if your time is spent only viewing theory; you have to apply the theory to your practice and then actually perform what you’ve been working on to improve.
What do you Like About Modern Magic? What Don’t You Like?
Tyler likes that people are working harder than ever to make things better than they were in magic. However, these interesting ideas got leveraged into terrible effects because, somewhere along the way, we’ve seemingly lost clarity regarding what is classified as a miracle.
Take Home Point
Tyler wants the audience to remember that it is the mindset with which you teach yourself and others. The framing of things in the negative is typically disempowering. If you don’t like something, ask why and press on these things to discover the reason you’re not a fan of them.
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