‘Coin magic really interests me from an “immediate and no set up” perspective, and I have Bobo’s book (from you) but those primary conceals, etc, are a nightmare to learn – any ideas?’
It’s a sad fact that so many magic beginners are put off from trying to learn coin magic. They find the learning curve at the beginning far too hard. Most magic coin tricks that don’t rely on gimmicked coins force you to face up to a big scary monster called ‘sleight of hand’. With so many magic tricks available that have special devices (called: gimmicks), It’s never been easier to bury your head in the sand and pretend that sleight of hand doesn’t exist.
What’s wrong with that? Well, it means you have to be a consumer of other people magic.
Mastering at least some of those core moves is an incredibly valuable way to use your practice time. Being able to perform a few killer tricks, just with the coins in your pocket means:
- Freedom from being dependent on expensive props and gimmicks.
- You can perform at a moments notice, wherever you are.
- The ability to borrow objects (the coins) from a spectator and create magic with them.
- You gain a set of utility moves that allow you to create your own unique routines.
- You gain balance within your act.
Here are a few quick tips that will help you speed up the learning process:
Choose the right coins.
If you are in the UK, then a good coin to start with, is the UK 2p coin. It is easy to palm. The small and sharply defined edge makes it easy to grip. For a larger coin, go for the UK £2 coin as it has a good size and edge. The down side with the £2 coin is it’s thickness and weight, which can slow down progress. The 2 Euro coin is also a good choice, and for magicians in the US, the half dollar is the most popular choice.
Commit to practice everywhere.
One of the best features of coin magic is that it can be performed just about anywhere. In fact, you can practice moving a coin in and out of a range of palms and concealments, without even having to take your hand out of your jacket or coat pocket.
Start right away with the Classic Palm.
It’s one of the hardest to master, but it’s also the king of all coin moves. The sooner you start work on the Classic palm the better. Dan Watkins has produced a great free guide to a good classic palm here.
Palm – Pass- Vanish.
The ideal first set of sleights to focus on would be one from each of the categories of coin magic. We suggest choosing the classic palm, then a good pass, such as the shuttle pass, and finally a decent vanish like the retention of vision vanish. By choosing just one move from each of these categories of sleights, you work on just three sleights at a time. Because each is from a different category of sleights, you can combine them together to create a number of full routines.
Transfers and Transitions.
It’s also important to work on how you get into and out of each move. Once a coin has been vanished, you will want to move it over to another concealment, and this transfer needs to be undetectable. In the example of the retention of vision vanish, the coin will be in a specific position after the vanish has taken place. Practice how you go into classic palm from that position.
Use a cyclical one coin routine for practice.
There are several cyclical one coin routines in print that use the core moves and run through a series of productions and vanishes. David Roth teaches some excellent one coin work in his books and DVD’s. Once you have a few moves, choose a routine that you can drill and practice it every day. The routine repeats endlessly, so there is no sense of a start or ending. These routines tend to cause people to practice much more as there is an automatic flow into running through it ‘just one more time’
Slow motion as you go through the moves.
Fast is not deceptive in sleight of hand. It’s confusing and suspicious. IN practice, it’s also the quickest way to make very little progress. Your goal is to teach your fingers the movements and touch needed for each move.
The slower you go, when running through the moves, the more you can check that each movement is perfect. Don’t make any deliberate effort to speed up. Speed will happen over time on its own.
When to use a mirror and when not to.
Mirror work in coin magic IS needed to check that your angles are correct and that a placement is exactly where it should be. However, once you have that move perfected in front of a mirror, you will need to start practicing without one. There is a danger that you will become dependent on the visual feedback the mirror gives you, and will not have confidence that a sleight looked correct unless you are able to see the move happen yourself. Make sure you practice in front of a mirror at first. Once you have the placement and angles, it’s time to practice it ‘blind’.
Don’t hide the action.
Most coin work requires you to hold a coin at the fingertips and manipulate it. A common mistake that beginners face, it that they tend to put too many fingers in the way. The fingers that are not holding the coin could hide all the actions. This might look fine from their viewpoint (behind the trick), but for the spectators, it’s confusing and suspicious. Any unused fingers need to be out the way of the action. If your hands are palm down, whenever possible, the palms should be visible to show there is nothing hiding in your hands. Your fingers should be just a little apart. A hand that looks as if it could conceal something is often thought to BE concealing something, even though you may know it’s totally innocent.
Watch your eyes are not giving it away.
It’s so hard to stop the truth from showing in your eyes. Especially if, you are used to only practicing in front of a mirror. Many beginners find that they half close their eyes when performing a sleight. It’s almost as if they don’t want to see that the move has happened. That, if they can’t see it, the spectators won’t be able to see it either. Moving away from mirror practice to rehearsal will help remove this tendency.
Image courtesy of Jin Thai