The Art of Practice
Magic Article

The art of practice is what we need to master to be top of the game.

While most people are satisfied following the adage ‘practice makes perfect’, magicians set themselves apart by upholding a slight modification of this proverb which is ‘perfect practice makes perfect’.

Indeed for magicians, the only way which would help them to perform with a natural flair in front of an audience is to practice perfectly, meaning not only devoting time to practice but deriving the maximum that they can out of such sessions.

If you are willing to practice, the sky is the limit as regards the number of magic tricks which you can master – a word of advice would be to begin with simple and easy tricks which can be performed anywhere and at any time without requiring any props or extra gimmicks.

Observe any expert magician and the first point that becomes evident is that this professional is invariably ready with many tricks which they can perform impromptu in any given setting.

A tryst down the memory lane further proves the veracity of this method as famous magicians like David Blaine, Criss Angel and Cyril Takayama started out by stopping strangers walking down the street and entertaining them with their magic.  It was after having gained popularity in this manner that they acquired worldwide fame.

When compared with other artistic forms, the art of magic bears some similarities and some distinctions as well.

Undoubtedly it needs plenty of practice but in this case the quality of the practice is as important as the quantity – there is no point in practising for long hours if the practice session lacks organisation, is bereft of certain areas of focus,  and is full of distractions.

Therefore, to excel at performing magic flawlessly, for a professional as well a novice, squeezing the most out of practice sessions is a must.

Some of the fundamentals which enable a magician to derive the best possible results from the art of practice on implementation are:

Picking an appropriate location

This is one of the most important factors in determining whether the time spent is well utilised or a complete waste.

An ideal location for practising magic must be well lit, feature a full length mirror, and should consist of a variety of storage spaces like shelves and tables that are within easy reach.

Tranquillity and a minimum of distractions in surrounding areas is an added advantage as is extra space which permits free movement.      

Determining props and their positions

Determining props and their positions are details which need to be decided from the first day, as this cannot be neglected by the magician if success is important to them.

From the very first day of practice, the individual must make up their mind as to which props they would require and where they should be placed.

While one advantage of this is that it saves the time which would otherwise have been wasted in hunting and locating, the other is that objects can be placed in a sequence of requirement that suits the style of the magician.  

Time for the art of practice

What would be the best time for practice?

Obviously it should be the time of the day when you are free from other commitments and are mentally relaxed. This routine should be followed every day until it becomes a habit.

Initially, the practice session need not exceed half an hour at a stretch but later as fluency and mastery over tricks is achieved, it can be extended for another 15 minutes.

An important fact pertaining to time is that the magician must be cognizant of his own concentration limits and must not exceed them – doing so would not only add to mental fatigue but would mean a compromise on alertness which spells doom in this art.  

Sequence of learning

Like every skill which is mastered gradually, magic also has its incubation period wherein every magician must first learn the trick, practice it until they are confident of being able to perform it with their eyes closed and finally is able to perform it confidently in the presence of an audience.

Adhering to this sequence is a must when learning the art of practice as is the incorporation of the following points –

  • Mastering the basics by commencing with tricks which are enjoyable and then repeatedly holding, passing, palming and doing everything else until fluency is achieved.
  • Injecting structure into the performance by establishing a theme or a story-line wherein one trick automatically leads to another and saving up the most impressive trick as the concluding performance.
  • Increasing the entertainment value by making use of misdirection as this is the factor which separates an average performance from a spectacular, mind boggling and truly memorable act.
  • Adding pizzazz to your performance through liberal doses of style and humour irrespective of the location of the act.
  • Using humour, particularly while handling a trick gone awry or dealing with a heckler.

Using a mirror or video camera

At the time of starting out, it is the video camera which is more helpful as reviewing the recording is the best way to realise the short-comings of the act and make improvements.

It would also help to watch from the other side of the fence namely from the spectator’s perspective. Likewise, a mirror would come be useful once the moves have been memorised and critical review is required for further polishing.

It is the art of practice which will show itself during the final act being a refined performance proving that the practice time was well spent. 

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