In this magic blog post, let's look at why learning plateaus happen to magicians, and what we can do to push past them.
As magicians, we need to commit to a routine of magic practice, both to develop new material, and also to stay sharp and fresh with our working acts. However, sometimes we can be practicing as hard as ever but seem to be treading water and making no progress.
It's in your head.
Sometimes we can create our own problems within a magic trick, or with part of the practice. These 'problems' may be tiny errors, or adjustments that we become completely focused on, and in your minds they become huge road blocks. We may obsess over the timing of a sleight, or the exact placement of an object on our close up mats. These fixations can become all consuming, and much of our practice time becomes devoted to working on them, to the detriment of the rest of the routine.
It's important to examine on your whole practice program, making sure that you don't fixate on aspects that may not be a good use of your time. To help prevent this, we recommend that you drill the WHOLE routine repeatedly, rather than working on single moves one at a time. The aim is to develop the complete routine together as a single performance, rather than as modules that combine to create the magic trick.
When you have a boring or repetitive task to do, everything becomes a distraction. It's easy to spot distractions like TV, music, facebook etc, but those are not the most dangerous because they are so noticable.
The most dangerous distractions and those that feel like real work! You may be devoting many hours each day to your magic, but how are you really spending the time? Watching magic DVD's, reading magic magazines, sorting out and cataloging your magic props is not practicing.
Magic research on the internet is not practicing.
Reading this magic blog is not practicing.
Make sure that you set aside a dedicated practice time, planned out in advance. This practice time should be work on a specific magic trick, with no other distractions. By doing this, you will find that you need to spend far less time on your magic as the work is applied where it really counts.
Getting help from a magic teacher.
Just about every sporting professional makes use of a coach. Coaching isn't a luxury, or just a way to motivate the student to practice. Coaching allows a third party, who is detached from the learning process, to examine the whole practice program from an emotional distance. The coach cuts through all the distractions and imaginary problems that can suck up practice time. By using a third party to oversee your magic practice, you stay on track over time and work towards ONE goal, avoiding distractions.
If you find yourself making no progress in your magic practice, it may help to book a single session of personal magic tuition. This session isn't to learn more magic tricks (You probably already know enough). The goal of the coaching session is to look at your current progress, oversee your practice program and identify problems that you may not notice yourself as you are too close to the process.
Find a magic coach that you can trust to give you professional tuition. Ask them to watch your current material and give you HONEST feedback.
If you can't afford a professional magic coach, you can ask a trusted friend or your partner to help you stay focused on the practice program you set yourself. The important thing is that you have someone independent to keep you on track.