Dear Dominic, In your approaching magic practice book and in a video you advise the using of a metronome for slowing down the drilling rehearsal. But how can I use it? If it is for music that’s all right because there is a tempo: one / two, one / two. But for magic I can’t understand even if it is for the patter. Or is it a stopwatch? Best wishes Frère
Hi, The use of a metronome isn’t limited to musicians. Its benefit can be found in dance, stage acting, and even comedians in the delivery of their punch lines. It’s quite common to find magicians using a metronome when practicing their magic. Setting a tempo helps with the motion and smoothness of a technique. For example, The speed and rhythm used in an Elmsley count, or the passage of the fingers and the hands in the motion of a shuttle pass. In coin magic, it’s especially useful in helping to make all the motions within the routine have a steady constant pace. It’s easy to accidentally speed up in the parts that you want to hide, and that can give you away.
Let’s look at an example, when we attempt to learn coin magic:
- You show the coin
- It drops to the palm up fingers
- The left hand reaches it and takes it
- The left hand moves away and the right hand rotates
- The left hand moves forward, whilst the right hand goes under the table
- The left hand pushed the coin it holds through the table surface and it vanishes..
- The right hand, produces the coin from under the table.
Each stage and action is performed in a steady flowing state of motion. The result is a beautiful choreographed routine.
Magicians using a metronome have a consistent base for their forward movement, they can then travel away from that constant, as they wish, but it’s there for them to fall back on. The speed is not set in stone.. It’s there for them as a natural steady flow, which they can then depart from for spontaneous actions. No matter what comes up whilst they perform, the habit and conditioned muscular movement that is built up from practicing with a metronome, acts to anchor their performance.
Use the metronome to become aware of how each action or move flows into the next. Nothing happens in isolation, movement between sleights, transfers, and the moments between technique are all interconnected.
Starting to use a metronome in your magic practice
Begin by setting the metronome to beat every second.
Now run through the routine that you wish to work on. Perform the sleights, patter, actions, and movements. Notice how each movement matches or fails to match the beats of the metronome. Be aware of how you are speeding up, or slowing down at different points. Does this analysis for the moments BETWEEN your effects too. Notice how you transition between props and effects.. Learn from this feedback.. It’s powerful stuff.
The benefits of magicians using a metronome
Over time, a natural smoothness develops in your performance and your movements will become less mechanical and staged. Working on the pace and timing will give your performance a natural and unhurried feel. You will be amazed to discover parts of your act that have become sloppy without you realizing it. You will notice parts that have lots of movement and energy, and other areas that need that added. .
Try it and let me know how you get on in the comments section below