Developing Confidence :: Advice for Beginners
I have only been pursuing magic seriously for about three years now. In that time, I have made major progress and growth in my confidence as a magician. I am convinced that there are several beginners or newcomers to magic who struggle with low self-confidence. They would give anything to handle a spectator the way they’ve seen Brad do in his teaching videos. This article will walk you through the steps I took to develop self-confidence. I’m far from where I want to be as a performer, but I’m far from where I began and I’m convinced that with a little work, you too can develop into the confident magician you want to be.
1. Practice, practice, practice!
I know this may sound obvious, but it is vital to developing confidence. Every time you practice a sleight, you are building confidence. I remember when I first started performing magic for spectators. There were literally hundreds of thoughts running through my head. “What if they see the break I’m holding? What if I lose the break? Was the card I glimpsed a spade or a club? Why are my hands shaking?” While all of these thoughts are running through your head, you’re trying to do an Elmsley Count that you’re not very comfortable with. I’ll never forget the first time I gathered enough courage to perform for a complete stranger. I was in a store and walked up to two kids and asked them if they wanted to see something cool. The effect I was performing called for a double-lift. I had “practiced” double-lifts, but apparently not enough. I accidentally did a triple-lift and had absolutely no idea what to do. I walked away and said, “Never mind.” I vowed from that point forward to never perform a sleight until I had practiced it enough to perform it flawlessly. There is no substitute for practice. It is the key to developing confidence.
2. Never underestimate the power of self-working tricks.
There are literally hundreds of card and magic tricks that don’t require any difficult sleights whatsoever. You can put together an awesome routine using effects that require no more than a glimpse of the bottom card or having the deck setup before hand. Here are just a few effects that would fall into this category: Sick Aces, Chance Zero, Gemini Twins, You Do As I Do, locate a selected card using the key card principle, force a card using a simple force such as the Cross-Cut force, Cut Deeper force or Countdown force, etc., etc., etc. My point here is that until you’re ready to perform sleights under pressure, you can still be developing confidence by performing incredible magic which doesn’t require any intimidating sleight of hand.
3. Have a script written and memorized for each effect you perform.
There are some who might disagree with this, but I think it’s important to have a script, especially for beginning magicians. There are so many things going through your head while performing. Guessing what you’re going to say next shouldn’t be one of them. Can you picture this scenario going through your head? “So, um, this old guy was like, um you’re not ready to perform magic yet (Did she catch that flash?) and I was all like yes I am. Um, so I start shuffling the cards but I like screwed up and started shuffling face-up into face-down (Why are my hands shaking? Why can’t I take my eyes off the cards. I should be looking at the spectator). Um, so yeah, so I like remembered what the old guy said (How am I supposed to cut the cards again? Does the top packet get kicked to the left? Which packet do I flip over?”) Do you see the point I’m trying to make? By having a script and memorizing it, you completely eliminate worrying about what you’re going to say. Not only are you thinking about less, your performance will come across better because you’re eliminating the “um,” “yeah,” and “like” from your vocabulary. I believe scripting your routines will give you that extra edge you need to help you develop confidence.
4. Force yourself to make eye contact.
This is probably the area I still struggle with the most. It is very hard to make eye contact with someone, especially if you’re lacking self-confidence. Making eye contact throughout your routine does a couple of different things. First of all, the spectator is going to look where you look. If you’re concerned about performing a sleight and the spectator is burning your hands (because that’s where you’re looking), you’re going to be even more concerned about getting caught. Similar to scripting your routines, eye contact conveys to the spectator that you are confident, have control of the situation, and are not intimated. Train yourself early on to maintain eye contact. I believe scripting your routines and maintaining eye contact will help your confidence grow dramatically. (Think about how easy it would be to make eye contact if you’re performing a self-working effect that you’ve scripted!)
There really is no substitute. Eventually, you’re going to have to throw caution to the wind and perform magic. Performing for your mom or girlfriend can only build your confidence so much. Eventually you’re going to have to perform for others. Others might disagree, but I suggest performing for complete strangers. Why? If you mess up, you’re probably never going to see them again. Remember those two kids I talked about earlier? It’s been over three years and I haven’t seen them since. Practicing, scripting, and training yourself to make eye contact will help your confidence grow, but by combining them and performing, you’ll see it grown by leaps and bounds. Every time you perform magic, you’re growing that much closer to being the self-confident magician you want to be.
Some people are born with self-confidence. Others need to work at it. If you’re one that needs to work at it, try applying the lessons I’ve applied. They worked for me. If they work for you, great! If they don’t, I’ll give you your money back!