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 Post subject: Kids Performing At School - A Good Idea?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2006 6:06 pm 
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born to perform.

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I doubt this essay is going to be particularly structured but I just thought that it would be worth getting my ideas down about this subject.

As I'm sure you all know, what with Penguin's attractive prices, many younger magicians use this site, and they also use the online forums. In the Outs and One-Liners forum, there are a cornucopia of threads about "This one kid at school" or troubles with performing tricks at school. With so many people having problems like this, is it worth performing magic at school?

Lets face it: younger magicians, in general, are not as good at performing tricks as adults. They might have practiced the sleights, but I think I've nailed the fact that there's something about misdirection that kids can't get right. In fact, I've found in my experience that some kids have the uncanny ability to direct. They will make you look straight at their sleights because they have to look at their hands in order oto do it, and can't talk at the same time to cover it up. That means that no matter how well they can do the double-lift, if they can't misdirect for [EDITED] then people will see it.

Another point. Young teenagers (and maybe a little younger) do not make good audiences either. As adolescence kicks in, children feel the need to be superior to their peers (in fact that's what makes the magicians do their tricks in school). If someone tries to get one up on them, they want to knock them back down again. Children are also generally observant. To them, magic is more of a puzzle, no matter how you present it. Good magic books will tell you that if you present a trick as a puzzle, people will feel resentful when they are not provided with its solution. However, if you present the trick as an experience, people will generally just accept it. Kids don't treat tricks as experiences - they just want the secret. So, they'll pay close attention and try not to be misdirected, and intentionally try to expose you. If they think you have something in your hand, they'll come out and say it.

So, we have an okay magician with a bad audience member. I think that it's like an accident waiting to happen. And let's face it: to insult someone is generally a lot easier than to do a magic trick, so it is usually the audience member who wins.

Here are my thoughts for those of you who are young and into magic: Spend your earlier years merely learning about magic. Practise your sleights and keep buying the tricks (the more the better because you can both find out what kind of tricks suit you and with the more you know, you can devise your own routines and be creative). Only when you're seventeen or eighteen start doing magic seriously to other people. Or course when you're 10 or 12 you can show tricks to close relatives, who will give you support rather than hoping you crash and burn. When you and your friends are old enough to treat each other like adults, that's when ou should start showing off your skills Not only will you have good practice, so you'll be good at your tricks, but the people you're performing to will enjoy it and want to enjoy it.

Okay. There you have it. Feel free to disagree but I thought it would be worth expressing my thoughts.


Last edited by Lawboy on Fri May 12, 2006 6:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2006 6:16 pm 
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Location: An amatuer practices until he gets it right, a professional practices until he can't get it wrong...
I agree with everything except for the first part where you said that teenagers can't do sleights without looking at their hands. I never look at my hands during a performance, out of habbit. That may be true for newer magicians, but not more expirenced ones, no matter their age.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2006 6:47 pm 
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Fair point and point taken. I'll agree that teenagers who have been into magic for a while will be able to do tricks relatively well. Newer magicians won't be as good. I say that but there are a few younger magicians I've seen that, as I say, just can't misdirect. And they appear that they've been into magic for a while. Maybe it's just me.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 01, 2006 5:29 am 
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I blame bad magic teaching, at least partially. If you look at a book targeted towards young magicians (with the notable exception of Secrets of Alkazar!), they generally contain no or little advice on presentation, just a battery of tricks. The kids will then learn the trick as a sequence of moves to get through, generally not thinking about the effect they are trying to present.

The other problem is that adults as well as teenagers and children refuse to take young magicians seriously, even if they are good.

However, the upshot of all this is that most people are aware that magic is a trick that requires some skill. When you present an illusion well, and the effect is far beyond what they thought magicians were capable of, they are usually pleasantly surprised.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 01, 2006 6:06 am 
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That's a very good point. I agree that most books are about the moves rather than the presentation and psychology about tricks. I myself realised that I was falling into that trap. I knew the tricks but I also knew there was something I could do to make them better still. So I picked up some books on the subject and now I look at my magic in a completely different way.

The thing about people not taking young magicians seriously is something I can identify with. I don't know exactly why this is, but I know it's true. It may be something to do with rapport. Generally, children and adults do not share a good rapport because different things interest them. You can tell that because often when an adult and child who don't know each other are together, there will usually be a long silence, which the adult tries to break by asking how school's going. The kid gives a monosyllabic answer and it's back to silence again. There's no rapport there. Rapport is a key element to magic. Without it, any tricks you do will not have even a tenth of their full power.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2006 1:17 pm 
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ok....i am 16 years old, and am a 3 year old magician....i am currently homeschooled, but lastyear i was in school, and did perform my magic at school...

i also had a friend that did magic at scholl also, and we were kinda like a two person team...

we got some of the same penguin tricks(b-2 bomber, hummingbird card, etc.), and both did them at school....the difference was, i practiced by myself, in front of mirrors and in front o my family before i ever went to school....but he came straight to school with it the day after he got it...

that is the main proplem with young magicians. They get in a hurry to show off their skills, dont practice NEARLY enough, and then go to school and screw up, look at their hands, don't talk enough, ect....

also, the fact you stated about the punks in the audiance is as good as gold, and every young magician needs to know that in younger audiances, you can't slip up a single time, or som people will tell all their little buddies, and ruin that trick for good...


good info man...


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 Post subject: Agreed
PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2006 11:32 am 
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Location: The prophesy of infedelity is merely the stimulation of a process less reconized by ME!!!
I agree with most of what you said and as a 15 year old magician i can see the point you make. I feel however that you are providing a very sterotipical view on what tennagers wan't to do to others. I use my friends in school as a basis to try out new tricks. They know i am in to magic and repect that and so before i show anyone i show them and they always tell me if i am going to get alot of [edited] for performing it.


I admit their are quite alot of people who focus of my magic as a puzzle and by not including them it makes them feel dumb. Its all about the way you treat yourself infront of others. You made some very good points however about magic books focusing only on the tricks. I strongly dislike using magic books in the firs place because i cannot get a feel for how the trick is supposed to flow and what part of each step is supposed to be empazised.


NOt a bad essay kudos mate


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 Post subject: I Agree
PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2006 6:05 pm 
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I am only thirteen. I had practiced using the stripper deck for hours upon hours. Today I brought it into school, and many kids did just what you said they would. One kid kept begging me to tell him the magic website, but I know hes the type of kid that ruins secrets. The next period he walked up to me (since I wouldn't tell him the name) and said I don't even care, magic is g*y.

Later that day, I left my backpack by the table and went up to buy lunch. When I came back, kids were looking through my backpack for magic tricks. Luckily I only has the stripper deck and no one figured it out. I don't think I'll be bringing tricks to school for a LONG time. Thanks for your suggestion. :D


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2006 3:01 am 
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I guess I come from the school of hard knocks. I feel you learn from doing. If a youngster gets caught doing a move, then that may motivate him to practice better and more often. I think that most kids think they practice adequately, and then go out and do it. They mess up. So what? I am not threatend by them or worry about someone finding out a secret. A young person who is actually into magic and wants to do it for more than just doing tricks will learn and then do better next time.

I do agree that more teaching needs to be done on performance. Mechanics is not enough even with self working tricks.
I did my first show when I was 8. I was getting paid when I was in Jr, High. I learned the hard way. That helps me teach the young magicians in our association from real life. Sometimes reading about misdirection is not enough. Learning from others who have been there is great also. I remember being at the Magic Castle and over hearing Dai Vernon go over some points with a young magician. I wished I could have sat in on that. I have had some personal instruction from Gary Dariwn. Eventhough I understood what I studied in his books, it helped to have the human help.

So, I say let them perform. let part of their learning come the hard way. Who is it going to hurt? It will weed out the serious from the not serious.


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 Post subject: Re: I Agree
PostPosted: Sat May 20, 2006 5:51 pm 
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gilbert42793 wrote:
I am only thirteen. I had practiced using the stripper deck for hours upon hours. Today I brought it into school, and many kids did just what you said they would. One kid kept begging me to tell him the magic website, but I know hes the type of kid that ruins secrets. The next period he walked up to me (since I wouldn't tell him the name) and said I don't even care, magic is g*y.

Later that day, I left my backpack by the table and went up to buy lunch. When I came back, kids were looking through my backpack for magic tricks. Luckily I only has the stripper deck and no one figured it out. I don't think I'll be bringing tricks to school for a LONG time. Thanks for your suggestion. :D


Good effort. If you can remotely handle 13-year-old peers, things are looking good. At that age group, there's always 'one kid' who's going to feel challenged and respond immaturely.

So, tell us how the others responded. How many enjoyed it?

I suspect people looking through your backpack isn't a problem with magic, it's a problem with your relationship with these guys, if they have no respect for your stuff.

Keep up the good work!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2006 12:47 pm 
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Ive been doin magic for 1.5 years not and i got my slieghts down good to where ive NEVER been caught and i can do them without lookin down, but other then that u are right about everything else


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 6:03 pm 
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i somewhat agree with the original post and somewhat disagree with it. I am a teenager, and i do magic as a job. When performing i never get caught simply becuase i practice. Yes if someone is not that dedicated to magic then they will not really care about how well they know it. If they can do it once then that is good enough for them. I do misdirect, i do know the psycology, i have studied up on the material.

However, i have seen pleny of adult magicians who screw up. I once went to a bar mitzvah and there was a magician there. I watched him and he was terrible. His misdirection was terrible, his crowd control was terrible, everything he did was terrible.

So, i am against the first post in the fact that teenagers can't do magic effectively for their peers. The biggest problem with teenagers AND adults is their experience. I have lots of experience in performing for my peers (not that much for kid shows) and i do fine. Others don't.

Basicly what i am saying is you can't be stereotypical (i definitely butchered that word). THe only thing that judges how good someone is in magic is their skills, the technical part, and their experience. In fact experience IMO is the most important thing to have.

Ben Winter


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 9:28 pm 
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I am currently 15 years old, and I do magic all the time at school. I agree with you that some younger performers do not practice nearly enough before they start performing. I was like that untill I finally realized this point. Now I practice in front of the mirror untill I have everything down perfect. Also, about misdirection, I have worked a lot on it too and I think I'm pretty good at it now.

I, for the most part don't agree with the essay, because you have to perform in order to be a magician, you have to get used to hecklers, you have to see for yourself what works and what doesn't. If someone really wants to be a magician, they can't just study magic for years and start performing when they're older, they won't have the experience. Just because you're older, doesn't mean you will naturally be a better performer. For sleights and being able to do them without looking at your hands, it's all practice, which I will agree that many teens don't do enough. But when it comes to misdirection and audience control, it's all about experience. How will you be a good performer by the time you are 18 if you have never performed before. I will bet that if you take an 18 year old magician who have spent 5 years merely studing magic, and never performing it, and another 18 year-old, who have not studied as much, but have been actually performing for 5 years, the second one will be much better. Also, about how kids and teens not being good audiences, when you are older, you will have to perform for them anyways, if you've performed for this age group before, you will have the experience, u will know what to do. Performing at a young age in school, you will most likely fail when starting out, I did, but the important thing is to learn from the mistakes, therefore, gaining experience. Magic is a performance art, without actually performing it, how can you be good at it?

For all u young magicians out there that want to perform in school, resist the temptation to perform right after you learn a trick, and practice until you get it doen perfect. You'll probably fail here and there, never give up, learn from your mistakes and do better next time.

These are my veiws and mean no offense to the author of the essay above because I do see where he/she is coming from and respect his ideas.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 27, 2006 3:32 am 
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Nice reply, Oz. i had to think a long time while making this response.

As I say, I doubt my opinions are "correct" but I thought I'd share them anyway. I think my biggest fear is that the more people perform their magic in school, the more secrets they will carelessly give away.

The thing about the two eighteen year-olds: I agree that the one who performed would be better than the one who studied, but the one who performed would have revealed more secrets (which is a negtive thing). What I suggest is that first you study. Then you go out into the audience. It will take you twice as long to get to where you are, but you will be many times better.

I think a better analogy would be if you take a 13 year-old and an 18 year-old, both of whom do not know any magic, and let them practise magic in the same way for five years, the older one will be better because they have more people-handling and rapport-building experience from outside sources.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 27, 2006 1:20 pm 
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I totally agree with you on the fact that younger performers reveal much more secrets. I've revealed a couple myself when I was just starting out, but I've since realized that I really need to practice before performing. When I was a total beginner, once I understood and can barely do the trick, I'd show it to someone, which was a complete mistake. But I still think that it's ok for younger performers to do magic in school, but like you said, they need to study before doing it. But I don't think they need to study until they are 18 or anything, just until they've gotten the sleights, misdirection, and all the subtleties. I don't think we should stop younger performers from performing, but instead we should teach them to use the secrets they've learned cautiously(don't do a trick 20 times in a row, some kids and teens do, especially when the audience keep saying "do it again, do it again"), and to practice adequetly before performing, therefore, lowering the chance of them revealing the secret. Beginner magic books and DVD's should really emphasis this point, since that's where most kids and teens start out.


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